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At long last, the truth can be revealed. And the truth is gonna hurt Drew Lock.
Lock, who fancies himself a jump-shooter with the range of Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, lost a summer basketball contest to rising Buffalo star Josh Allen when the two young NFL quarterbacks took a break from working out together.
“I think he had (basketball scholarship) offers in high school,” Allen said Wednesday, not bashful about bragging how he took “care of business” and beat Lock in a pick-up game this past summer.
Allen, however, is also humble and gracious. Trying to be nice to his buddy Lock, the 24-year-old Bills quarterback said: “He’s a 10 times better dancer than I am.”
Ouch. A better dancer, eh. Do you feel that burn?
Lock wants to win a Super Bowl, not “Dancing with the Stars.”
On the verge of leading Buffalo to its first AFC East division title since 1995, Allen is the quarterback that Broncos Country wants Lock to be when he grows up. Although this game Saturday between Denver and Buffalo will be hyped as a shootout between brash NFL gunslingers, it’s not really about Josh vs Drew.
The real question is: Why didn’t John love Josh?
With the fifth overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, Broncos personnel chief John Elway selected linebacker Bradley Chubb rather than Allen, who played quarterback 128 miles up the road from Denver at the University of Wyoming.
Before Allen recently out-dueled Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger and led the Bills to their 10th win of the season, I got this text from one of the stronger talent evaluators in recent NFL history: “Does Allen look like an Elway clone or what? Allen had all the intangibles. Just needed somebody to coach him up.”
The QBs that caught Elway’s fancy in the 2018 draft were Baker Mayfield (nice!) and Sam Darnold (oops!). Denver let Allen slide to Buffalo, which grabbed him at No. 7 in the opening round.
Which player would you rather have on your team, Broncos Country: Chubb or Allen?
After recovering from an Achilles injury that brought his 2019 season to an abrupt and early end, Chubb has re-established himself as an edge rusher with Pro Bowl invitations in his future.
“The first two, three, four games, (Chubb) was playing good, but you could see (his health) still wasn’t all the way back. Then I think each and every week he’s gotten better and better,” Broncos coach Vic Fangio said.
Praising Chubb’s work in a 32-27 win at Carolina, Fangio added: “We had to go out there to get the stop at the end of the game to preserve the win. His pass rush was really good. He caused the first sack we got, (then) applied good pressure on the other plays. That’s what your good players have to do. They’ve got to rise and play great in crunch time.”
The Bills’ patience as Allen slowly climbed the NFL’s steep learning curve has been rewarded. In Year 3, he is completing nearly 70 percent of his pass attempts and has run for six touchdowns. Elway-esque? A QB who Denver passed on has filled the power vacuum in the AFC East, now that Tom Brady has uprooted his old bones from New England and relocated to Tampa for the 5 o’clock early bird dinner special.
In a game where you ain’t nothing without a quarterback, it appears the Bills can compete for a championship with Allen. “The guy has really emerged as one of the top quarterbacks in the league,” Fangio said.
While the outcome of Buffalo vs. Denver won’t have a major impact on the standings, beating Allen might be the biggest victory of Lock’s young career. It would provide evidence that patience in him might richly reward the Broncos’ quest for a return to playoff glory.
Chubb might yet prove to be not only a rock-solid choice, but among the smarter draft picks Elway has made. But we all know the NFL is ruled by quarterbacks and money.
When he grows up, Lock might not be the equal of Allen, much less Peyton Manning. After reviewing a breakthrough performance at Carolina, Lock wisely slowed his roll: “I’m not saying I’m fully there by any means. There’s still a lot of work that I need to do.”
The real evaluation of whether drafting Chubb instead of Allen was a good idea: As an edge-rusher, does Chubb give Elway the leverage to renegotiate the contract of 31-year-old Von Miller without apprehension that Denver’s defense would be crippled if the team moved on from Super Bowl 50’s MVP?
Pro football is a bottom-line business. Denver can afford to be patient with Lock. Paying a premium price to make Miller a Bronco for life would be a whole different deal.
A more valuable football player than Allen? That’s not the bottom-line question for Chubb.
Is he good enough to replace Miller?