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Mason's Mailbag: Pondering draft possibilities
April 22, 2018 07:30 PM | Andrew Mason
You can tweet questions to me with the hashtag #AskMase or use the submission form to your right (if you're viewing on a standard browser) or at the bottom of the page if you're on the mobile site.

If the Broncos select Bradley Chubb with the fifth overall pick, what position would he start at?

-- Callen Marks

Outside linebacker, with the potential to work as an inside, hand-in-the-dirt rusher in some sub packages. Chubb's advantage comes from his size-speed blend, which is best used against tackles and tight ends chipping on the edge. At 269 pounds, he would not be as effective working as a 3-4 defensive end.

Given the offensive struggles in the red zone last season and C.J. Anderson's recent release, is it worth considering bringing in a proven veteran power back such as Adrian Peterson to help the offense inside the red zone? Or would he command too much money?

-- Scott Hartley

The Broncos went down the veteran-back road last year and it didn't yield the results they wanted. The deep running back class makes it likely that the Broncos can find the help they need next week.

Further, for the Broncos to improve their red-zone production, it won't simply come with a change at running back. Rather, the team needs more production from its inside receiving targets at tight end and in the slot. So the development of Jake Butt (along with perhaps the drafting of another tight end) and improvement from the slot will generate the red-zone improvement the Broncos need, allowing them to return to a level of efficiency inside the 20 that they haven't hit since 2014.

Do you think Justin Simmons should play linebacker instead of safety?

-- Arom Chowdhury

No. A 202-pound linebacker isn't going to be effective, and that role would not take advantage of his skill set.

The Broncos always say they want to draft the best athlete available. The Broncos have the opportunity to draft the best athlete available and one to fill the greatest need. In Quenton Nelson, the Broncos can build a dominant offensive line. A dominant line makes the quarterback, running back and receivers better (and the defense should be on the bench resting more often). Don't you agree that this is what the Broncos should do?

-- Lou Hanebury

Not the best "athlete." The best "player." There is a massive difference. And even then, it isn't simply the best player, but, as President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway said Thursday, "the best player that is best for the Denver Broncos."

And while I think Nelson is the most talented player in this draft, at No. 5 you must ask yourself two questions:

1. Which player is capable of making the biggest difference in potentially making this club a perennial Super Bowl contender? Quarterbacks, edge rushers and cornerbacks, for example, typically offer the best value.

2. Are there fairly comparable prospects at the same position that could be had with later picks?

The answer to Question No. 1 will rarely favor guard compared with some other positions, particularly quarterback, edge rusher and cornerback. As for Question No. 2 in regards to Nelson, that depends on how other guard prospects like Georgia's Isaiah Wynn, UTEP's Sam Hernandez and Nevada's Austin Corbett are viewed.

The line is important, yes. But the Broncos targeted the line with their top draft pick and top free-agent signing last year, brought back Matt Paradis for this season and traded for Jared Veldheer. Connor McGovern has also shown promise at right guard. Improvement on the line is at least as likely to come from what the Broncos have already done via the investment in veterans and young players -- and that group growing together -- as it is from the draft.

Since C.J. Anderson was released, is it likely the Broncos draft a running back at No. 5?

-- James Kolb

Possible, but not likely, especially with quarterback, edge rusher and cornerback potentially in the mix. If the Broncos stand pat at the No. 5 pick and Saquon Barkley is still on the board, he would represent a tempting option. But given the depth of this year's running back class, it seems likely that the Broncos could find an answer to bolster that position on Day 2, with prospects like USC's Ronald Jones II, Auburn's Kerryon Johnson, San Diego State's Rashaad Penny and Georgia's Sony Michel and Nick Chubb among the prospects who project to being taken in the second or third rounds.

Another way of looking at the situation is as follows: Take the Jacksonville Jaguars of 2017, who selected RB Leonard Fournette at the No. 4 overall pick. They then took DE Dawuane Smoot in the third round. Fournette was productive, no doubt. But Smoot had no sacks in a limited role last year. The Jaguars could have addressed both positions with Derek Barnett in the first round and Kareem Hunt, last year's leading rusher, in the third round. Hindsight is 20-20, but the Jaguars could have gotten comparable -- or better -- production with a Day 2 running back and gotten an immediate contributor at the other position in Round 1.

Why do you think we've had such a difficult time finding THE quarterback? John Elway has made some brilliant personnel decisions over the years -- except for quarterback (excepting Peyton Manning, of course).

-- Susan Roller

First of all, that's a bit like saying, "the Broncos always fall short in the playoffs (excepting their three Super Bowl wins, of course)." Furthermore, it's been two years since the Broncos had Peyton Manning. That's it. For proper perspective on having a "difficult time finding THE quarterback," just take a look around the NFL:

> Buffalo: No quarterback has been a clear starter (10-plus starts) in more than three consecutive seasons since Jim Kelly (1986-97)
> Miami: 18 different starting quarterbacks since Dan Marino's retirement in 2000
> Cleveland: 27 different starting quarterbacks since 1999
> Chicago: No Pro Bowl quarterbacks since Jim McMahon in the 1985 season
> Washington: 23 starting quarterbacks since their last Super Bowl win (XXVI, 1991 season), in spite of using four first-round picks on passers (Heath Shuler, 1994; Patrick Ramsey, 2002; Jason Campbell, 2005; Robert Griffin III, 2012)
> Tampa Bay: No starting quarterback has earned a second consecutive contract in the team's 42-season history

These are teams that have had a "difficult time." The Broncos are not there yet. Not after only two seasons. If Case Keenum doesn't build on his 2017 performance and the Broncos are still in a rough spot two or three years from now, then you would have a point. But not now, and not in the overall big picture of things.

Washington: A hot dog isn't a sandwich, but feel free to break the rule for a half-smoke at Ben's Chili Bowl, which I had once again late last month. Don't forget to take a look at the famed mural on the west wall outside of the restaurant, which was re-painted last year.

Arizona (also in the regular season): The Five Spot (two eggs, two slices of thick-cut bacon, cheese and grilled onions) at Matt's Big Breakfast.

Baltimore: Grilled Cheese and Co., a chain with four Baltimore-area locations, gets it. They understand that once you add meat to a grilled cheese, it becomes a melt. That brings me to the Crabby Melt: crab meat and Monterey Jack cheese on ciabatta. Another option is the pit beef sandwich at Chaps Pit Beef. Order the gravy fries on the side and you've got a quintessential Baltimore meal.

New York: Pastrami on rye with mustard, Katz's Delicatessen. Don't lose your ticket.

Los Angeles: Shrimp po'boy, Little Jewel of New Orleans in Chinatown.

Cincinnati: With the 2017 closure of Gilpin's, I'll recommend the banh mi pork sandwich at Le's Pho and Sandwiches. Le's is only open for lunch, however. At the stadium, try the Who Dey Melt, preferably with bacon.

San Francisco: Since Broncos fans will be around Santa Clara in the South Bay for the game, drive down to Los Gatos, about 10 miles south of Santa Clara, and get any sandwich with tri-tip beef at Los Gatos Meats and Smokehouse. On game day, hit the crab-sandwich stand at Levi's Stadium, which comes in just a notch behind the exquisite Dungeness crab sandwiches at the Crazy Crab'z stand AT&T Park behind the center-field scoreboard. (If you go to a Giants game, get your crab sandwich early; if you arrive too late, they'll be sold out.)

Oakland: Can't help you much on the East Bay, since I usually hang out in San Francisco during this trip, so I'll keep the focus there. Start your journey at Woodhouse Fish Co. and have a Dungeness crab sandwich or a lobster roll. Walk it off by strolling through the city and around Russian Hill (it's mostly a downhill jaunt) to Ghirardelli Square for a chocolate sundae (where you'll basically nullify the effect of the walk). If you want to go the burger route, hit Gott's Roadside at the Ferry Building.

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The analysis, opinion and speculation in this story represents that of the author, gathered through research and reporting, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Denver Broncos organization.

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