While the city of Seattle and 12th Men & Women everywhere are still reeling from the startling dissolution of the team’s relationship with Russell Wilson, the NFL keeps moving. In the weeks since this league-shifting trade, a former NFL MVP, multiple All-Pro wide receivers and one of the best young quarterbacks in the game have all been traded in an offseason operating at a breakneck pace. Wilson was sent to Denver along with a fourth-round pick in exchange for two first-round picks (including the No. 9 pick in 2022), two second-round picks, a fifth-round pick, defensive lineman Shelby Harris, tight end Noah Fant, and quarterback Drew Lock.
Much of the discussion has (rightfully) been centered on the first-round picks the Seahawks received in return as projections for a quarterback at the No. 9 slot abound. Fans, the media, and analysts have been quick to discount Lock as anything more than a desperation starter – which could easily end up looking like a mistake at the conclusion of 2022. To understand if Drew Lock garners trust or will bust in 2022, we need to look at what he has done up to this point.
Lock came into the league as Denver’s second-round pick in 2019 and started five games that season. This stretch from Week 12-16 proved to be his most successful streak in three seasons, as he led the Broncos to four wins in five games as he completed 64.1% of his passes and threw seven touchdowns against three interceptions. Turnovers have plagued Lock throughout his career as he has thrown 20 interceptions in 24 career games. Lock is a physically talented quarterback who has flashed the ability to use his legs and produce highlight-reel plays. However, no amount of physical talent will be able to compensate for a turnover rate anywhere near this in Pete Carroll’s offense.
As former NFL General Mike Tannenbaum said, Pete Carroll wants to “play good defense, run the ball, and know where the ball is going in the passing game,” and if Lock can avoid turning the ball over and string together wins, “he will have a chance to earn the job long-term.”
Lock’s overall play in Denver was mediocre at best as he started 13 games in 2020 and threw just 16 touchdowns to 15 turnovers. He still showed flashes of his 2019 play but proved to be an unreliable option. Notably, the Broncos transitioned from offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello in 2019 to Pat Shurmur in 2020, coinciding with Lock’s struggles.
“Continuity has its advantages but should not solely be responsible for whether a player succeeds or fails,” says former Philadelphia Eagles President Joe Banner.
This correlation is certainly not causation by any means but there is certainly merit to the idea of continuity on offense for a young quarterback. Lock will now have his third offensive coordinator in four seasons with Seattle’s Shane Waldron.
Seattle’s offense in 2022 will remain a mystery until kickoff as Pete Carroll’s only season without Russell Wilson as the Seahawks Week 1 starter was in 2011 with quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. It is clear that the wide receiver duo of DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett will be crucial to any success Lock and Seattle have in 2022 as they are one of the top tandems in the league.
Banner says, “the quality of wide receivers there would help any quarterback and Drew Lock is no exception,” while Tanenbaum believes that Lock has the ability to consistently generate explosive plays through Metcalf, who showed the ability to be productive without Wilson throwing him the ball. In the 3 ½ games Wilson missed in 2021, Metcalf had 21 catches for 197 yards and four touchdowns. The arrival of Fant in the trade is important for two reasons: it allows Seattle to replace tight end Gerald Everett, who departed for the Los Angeles Chargers in free agency and gives Lock a familiar target. He was Lock’s second-most targeted receiver in 2020 and had 62 catches for 673 yards.
Tannenbaum believes the Seahawks offense can still be effective in 2022 because they have depth at running back and Lock is an athletic signal-caller; combined with the wide receiver duo, Seattle projects as an intriguing offense. The Seahawks have been one of the run heaviest offenses in recent seasons (Seattle ranked 31st in passing attempts in 2021) which was a source of frustration for Wilson but will be to Lock’s benefit. As Banner observes, Seattle’s offense is very dependent on running and play-action passing.
Based on his career trajectory, Lock turning into even an above-average starter would be a surprise and mean that he has understood Waldron’s offense well and made significant jumps in his processing and decision making. However, Seattle would be well served by trying to coax that improvement out of Lock in 2022 and seeing if he can be a part of the next chapter of Seahawks football. While they could certainly take a quarterback in the first round of the 2022 Draft, bolstering an offensive line that projects to be without either starting tackle from 2021 would allow for a more fair evaluation of Lock this season and prove if he is a player Seattle can trust or one that is simply a bust.