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Mason's Mailbag: Jordan Taylor, Connor McGovern and more

Posted May 15, 2017

Questions about young players and how the Ring of Fame will be displayed when there are more additions are among those in this week's Mailbag.

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.

What is the hardest part for a rookie to transition to NFL life? Is it speed of game? Physically? Mental? Playbook?

-- Jordan Brantley

You can't give a one-size-fits-all answer to the question, because it depends on the player, his position and his situation. I've asked many rookies over the years about the most difficult part of adjusting to the NFL, and I've heard each of those answers. For quarterbacks, the most difficult adjustment is likely to be mental and involve the playbook. For receivers and cornerbacks, it's more likely to be speed.

I've always been a fan of Jordan Taylor. With a wealth of wide receivers for 2017 season does he have a chance to make the team?

-- Don Brown

Of course he has a chance. Every receiver on the roster has a chance. That being said, when you have two clearly established starters in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders and two draft picks in Carlos Henderson and Isaiah McKenzie, you can see the crunch developing among returning veterans like Taylor, Bennie Fowler, Cody Latimer, Kalif Raymond and Marlon Brown. Barring injuries, there simply isn't going to be room for all of those veterans -- or maybe even a majority of them -- on the 53-man roster coming out of the preseason.

If special teams ends up being the separating factor for receivers on the back end of the roster, that could dent Taylor's chances; he doesn't have the punt-return or kickoff-return experience of others like Henderson, McKenzie, Raymond and Latimer. Last year, also didn't have as expansive a role on coverage units as Latimer and Fowler, both of whom excel in that department.

But Taylor still managed to make the roster last year despite the fact that others had more robust special-teams roles. Taylor did so because he made so many plays in practice and preseason games that he made himself indispensable. Then he went out in the regular season and just made plays, even though he had limited opportunities to do so. Having seen this for two consecutive years, I expect him to do the same thing this summer. His athleticism, body control and ability to adjust to the ball in mid-flight allows him to make grabs that few others can. As I told a friend recently, "He'll make enough plays to where he effectively says, 'I dare you to cut me.'" Guys like that seem to find a way to stick in the NFL.

Got me wondering about Broncos history on drafting players from CU and what went wrong?

-- Timothy Sherrie

No school has produced more Broncos players over the team's 57-season history than CU. I don't really see anything wrong there.

I've noticed over the past few seasons that no one has worn the number 24. I realize this is out of respect to Champ Bailey. So my question is if no one is going to wear 24 for the foreseeable future why not give Champ his proper respect and officially retire it since it should be anyway.

-- Brandon Mont

It is currently out of consideration, as was the case for Rod Smith's No. 80, which remained out of circulation for three years until Julius Thomas donned it in 2011.

Personally, I support retiring No. 24. As is the case with the only retired number from the last 40 years of Broncos football, quarterback John Elway, you're talking about a top-5 all-time player at his position.

What further helps Bailey is the fact that he re-signed with the team in the 2011 offseason, when the franchise was at its lowest ebb, coming off a disastrous 4-12 season that was its worst since the AFL-NFL merger. I doubt I need to rehash just how far the Broncos had fallen at that point, but it's important to remember it to understand how much of a leap of faith Bailey took by choosing to stay rather than pursue a Super Bowl elsewhere. Even after 12 seasons, he would have been coveted had he hit the free-agent market.

Instead he remained with the Broncos, and as players like Von Miller and Chris Harris Jr. noted in recent weeks, his influence continues to be felt in the locker room.

After attending several games, I noticed that at times the players on the field stand around for a few minutes, and then go into a huddle. I am assuming this is during commercial breaks. My question is this ... why don't they call several plays during this time so they can wear down the defense and spend less time in the huddle?

-- Jan Leffers

Because the game situation changes with each play. In a two-minute situation, sometimes you will see two plays called at once, because you're thinking in terms of getting downfield in large clumps, since that's all you might have time to do. But at other points in the game, you have to adjust based on the scenario -- e.g., if you end up facing third-and-a-foot, you're probably going to want to call a play like a sneak, a dive or a quick misdirection that gets the one yard. That's not a scenario for which you could plan if you call several plays at once. Furthermore, you are boxed in by the one-play-at-a-time nature of the sport; calling several plays at once goes against this.

Do you think Elway is waiting until June 1 to go after a guard that gets cut because of the cap?

-- Bruce Strickland

No, I think that barring injuries, your first-team guards are already pretty well penciled in with Ron Leary and Max Garcia, who they expect to improve in a scheme that incorporates more gap blocking and less "horizontal" blocking, as Garcia said last week. Furthermore, you don't see post-June 1 cuts the way you once did. The Chargers, for example, went ahead and cut Orlando Franklin on Monday morning. So the market isn't likely to look appreciably different on June 2 than it does on Memorial Day.

With the recent announcement of Red Miller's induction into the Ring of Fame, it got me thinking. What happens when there isn't any physical space left to add names in the stadium? Will the Broncos add in names to another section?

-- Aron Snyder

We'll see. Fortunately, they have some time before that becomes a problem. There are some spare spaces with logos that can be used for additional names, as well. It is an issue that will be easily solved, perhaps with a solution as simple as reapplying the names in a smaller font size.

Seems Connor McGovern has been working at center, is this a clue as to the seriousness of Matt Paradis' injury? And wouldn't McGovern be better suited at guard with his strength, and power game?

-- Doug Holmes

McGovern working at center has nothing to do with Paradis, other than the fact that the Broncos need a center while Paradis continues his rehabilitation work. Paradis is on schedule and is expected to be ready to go before training camp. As for McGovern, one reason the Broncos liked him last year was that he is the rare lineman who could potentially work at all five positions. The versatility he offers makes him a key piece on the game-day 46-man roster if he makes the team. Giving him repetitions at center only increases his value.

How can the tight ends and wide receivers stop dropping the ball on big plays? Is it more of a mental or physical problem?

-- Shelly D

Drops and other mental mistakes happen sometimes. They've happened since the invention of the forward pass. They'll keep happening. Even Jerry Rice dropped passes. This is the reality of the game. You can work for countless hours at the JUGS machine, and on occasion the ball will just skip away. Sometimes it's because the receiving target was thinking about the next move upfield. Sometimes it's because a defender is in the area and you're bracing yourself for the potential collision. Sometimes it's just because an oblate spheroid isn't the easiest object to grab, particularly on a frigid day when the football comes at you like a cinder block.

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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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