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Mason's Mailbag: Inside linebackers, Devontae Booker, Trevor Siemian, and more

Posted May 8, 2016

The draft is over and rookie minicamp is in the books, but neither will bring a stop to questions for the Mailbag.

As always, 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.

Why did the Broncos and John Elway draft a punter in the seventh round, that we seemingly don't need, when they could've drafted Scooby Wright at a position of need at ILB?

-- De Carolis Luca

Because with the success the Broncos have enjoyed in finding and developing quality inside linebackers (Brandon Marshall and Danny Trevathan, for example), they didn't perceive the position as a need because of the young talent in reserve. Further, special-teams assistant Chris Gould coached Riley Dixon at Syracuse and knows his skills and potential better than almost anyone.

Are you comfortable with what's being done at the ILB spot? Three undrafted players is all I see. Might there be something else? Thanks for all your work for the draft.

-- Dan March

There's no reason to be uncomfortable, and unless the inside linebackers on hand struggle in the coming months, the Broncos have what they need on hand.

Todd Davis has proven he can play in his spot starting assignments the last two seasons. Corey Nelson can offer quality depth and push for the spot. And Zaire Anderson, a member of the practice squad last year, is a classic "plays-bigger-than-his-measurables" player who has outstanding instincts, is tenacious and always around the ball.

I know there are some people (not you, sir) who are panicking over not adding an inside linebacker in the draft. These people need to chill out. What was Marshall before he replaced Trevathan because of injuries in 2014? He was an unproven unknown, and by the end of the season, he was an indispensable part of the defense, and is now one of the best three-down inside linebackers in the league.

Successful teams trust their ability to develop replacements from within. The Broncos have two years of development in Nelson, one and a half seasons of work with Davis and a full year with Anderson. To that, they added some undrafted signees with potential.

"We feel good about the guys we have," Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips said Saturday. "We have some prospects to take some of the guys’ places. Danny played really well and had a great year for us, but Todd and Corey played last year when Danny was out. The same thing happened when [S David] Bruton [Jr.] was out last year. He didn’t even play in the Super Bowl.

"We feel good about our team. We feel good about our players."

The success of Marshall, Trevathan and, in spot starts, Davis also shows that the Broncos know what they're doing at this position. There were misses (Lamin Barrow), but the hits outnumber them. I'd bet on at least one of those young possibilities being able to handle the workload next to Marshall -- and handling it well.

I love the Booker pick in the fourth round, but how big a deal is it that he's turning 24 this year? Running backs don't have a long life span in the NFL.

-- Vic Arlow

Carries and wear and tear are more important than chronological age. Besides, it's not like his situation is in any way unusual. He graduated from high school at 19, as many people do. He was in college five seasons because he had to sit out a year for academic reasons when he transferred to Utah; that allowed him to get his bachelor's degree last December.

The key number is 854. That is the number of carries he had during his college career, including two JUCO seasons and two at Utah. That gives him 251 more carries in college than Derrick Henry (Tennessee) and 262 more than Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas).

Booker's tally is on the high end, but it's not a deal breaker; some of the most successful running backs of the last decade-plus had similar tallies: Matt Forte (809), Ray Rice (910) and LaDainian Tomlinson (943).

I thought Brock Osweiler did not have quick feet like Russell Wilson or Aaron Rodgers. Does Paxton Lynch have any better foot speed/quickness than Brock?

-- Steve Swendler

Quicker feet, more fluid mobility, better feel for the pass rush and the ability to keep his eyes downfield as he buys time by stepping around and away from the rush.

Last year I thought Trevor Siemian might be the "franchise quarterback" down the road. His game time was short but eye-catching. Now he seems to be an afterthought. Does he have that potential, and is there any chance he could be the primary backup to whoever starts?

-- Guy Clifton

I wouldn't call him an "afterthought." Not when he was brought in front of a horde of local media to answer questions last Monday. He might be an "afterthought" outside the organization, but not within it.

But that said, I wouldn't place too much stock in preseason work, unless it's phenomenal or uniquely dreadful. (See Russell Wilson racking up a 110.3 rating on 40-of-63 passing with five touchdowns and one interception in 2012, when he snatched the job from Matt Flynn.)

Siemian showed some promise in the 2015 preseason, but his final rating of 85.7 was close to the NFL median, and his accuracy still needed some work; he completed just 57.5 percent of his 40 passes. Improving his completion percentage is a priority. It's why footwork was such a high priority in Quarterbacks Coach Greg Knapp's work with him last year; it will continue to remain a focal point.

But Siemian should get some looks, and even if he doesn't emerge as the starter, could be in line to be a long-term backup. This summer will reveal more about his possibilities.

For a long-distance fan planning on making a trip out to training camp for the first time, are there any consistencies in the scheduling? I would love to be there for a day when I may get to see more 11-on-11 rather than drills.

-- Josh Lopez

Because camp practice schedules can be adjusted based on the team's progress, it's too early to tell. About the only thing we know is that if you want to see the team in full pads, you will have to wait until at least the fourth day.

Based on the preseason schedule, the Broncos can hold their first training-camp practice as early as Thursday, July 28. That would put the first full-pad session on Sunday, July 31. But as for finding a day where you see more 11-on-11 than drills ... it's too early to know.


It's WAY too early to make that comparison. Let's see Adam Gotsis in action during the regular season before we start comparing him to one of the top five defensive linemen in Broncos history.


-- Michael Skebe

Because you'd rather see if you can find a long-term solution that could be the answer for a decade or more before spending several million dollars -- or more over time -- on a stop-gap.

Re: Mason's top five Broncos defensive linemen. Rich Jackson should be there instead of Elvis Dumervil.

-- Dave Fowler

This is what happens when you make a preemptive complaint before the entire top five is released.

Andrew, I just want you to know that I enjoy listening to or reading all your comments. It's always a joy for me especially being so far away from my favorite team of all time. You do such a great job! In fact here in the Philippines they have a small bus that transports riders around town here in Cavite City. It's all decked out with Broncos and the colors. This is such a great reminder of the team I love. The bus drivers are so proud to have the Broncos on their bus. A lot of these buses are decked out with Baseball teams and vasketball teams but very few NFL teams. Thank you for your time Andrew. Relax now since the draft is over. I enjoyed your coverage here on the Broncos site. GO BRONCOS!

-- Jim Sisson

Appreciate it, Jim. e

Jim was also kind enough to share a picture of the bus:

Broncos bus in the Philippines

Maybe it's not Broncos Country. Perhaps it's Broncos World.

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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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