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Mason's Mailbag: Could the 'one-helmet' rule be scrapped?

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.

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I doubt it will, just because the NFL has so much invested in the "Color Rush" program, and I think that Washington's stated reason for pursuing the bylaw change -- which was simply stated as "garish uniforms" -- will not pass muster.

What is potentially interesting is that the Eagles proposed a change to the league helmet rules. Per Resolution G-1, the Eagles proposed to scrap the one-helmet rule, in place since 2012, and allow for an alternate helmet to be worn with a team's alternate uniform or "Color Rush" uniform.

The one-helmet rule was passed for player-safety reasons, but in the Eagles' argument for scrapping it, they cite the fact that players can use a small bushel of helmets in one season:

Current rule is unnecessarily restrictive; by our equipment manager’s estimate, players at certain positions can go through 15-20 helmets per season and players regularly switch helmets during the game (e.g., helmet breaks, player with C2P [coach-to-player communication] components needs to switch to helmet without C2P components).

I doubt any single subject has been beaten to death in this Mailbag as much as the one-helmet rule ... but the discussion on the Eagles' proposal will be fascinating.

If the one-helmet rule is really useless given helmet changes, as the Eagles suggest, then why not allow for multiple helmets? This would, of course, bring back the possibility of more teams using true throwback uniforms as their alternate attire -- and, yes, the possibility of a true 1980s or 1960s Broncos throwback as part of the ensemble -- beyond a "Color Rush" uniform with throwback stripe, number and logo elements, as the Broncos used last October at San Diego.

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What do you think if the OT was turned into a NFL-style shoot out? With each team getting four PAT-style plays with the one scoring the highest point total wins. As for the structure, each team can choose to go for two points or one with the same format as current PATs. If they tie after the first round, a second set of four will be given to each team until the game is decided. It would be fair and I think up the excitement in what may have been a boring game.**

-- Andrew Bruscher

With all due respect, I think it would be a terrible idea.

It doesn't in any way resemble the sport as it is played for the rest of the game. It has the same problem as the college format, where teams are given possession at the opponent's 25-yard line. I only like such contrived formats if they come after an overtime period to break a tie, just like a soccer penalty-kick shootout comes after 30 minutes of extra time. They ought to be no more than a last resort to break a deadlock.

NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino and Competition Committee chairman Rich McKay both said that player safety was a reason behind the proposal to trim regular-season and preseason overtime from 15 to 10 minutes -- and noted that the potential for more ties was an acceptable consequence, especially in light of how more ties can help avoid messy tiebreakers at the end of the season.

Of course, that leads to the question asking why have overtime at all before the postseason -- but that's for another day.

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When and if we even pick at #20 in the upcoming draft, what would be of greater value at that spot, a left tackle, a playmaker such as Christian McCaffrey or a defensive player?**

-- Don Evans

To touch on the three players/positions you mentioned -- left tackle is a premium position, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's the best value at No. 20 given this year's class. McCaffrey is a unique talent. Is he more unique than, say, Oklahoma's Joe Mixon, who has some open-field and receiving skills of his own (but well-documented off-field issues)? "Defensive player" covers half of the draft field and is too vague.

That is not a question you can answer with any one of the choices given -- and it's not one you can accurately answer before the draft, either.

The player of the greater value is the one who will a) be the most productive over the long term and b) is the most unique talent relative to his on-field position and draft standing.

For example, if you have three or four tight ends clustered together on your board, and you think you can get one of them a round later, then picking a tight end at that point wouldn't represent the best value, when you might be able to get 96 percent of the top prospects in that group a round later.

Determining value is difficult because it's highly variable based on scheme, coaching, team needs and the quality of prospects -- and their specific skill sets and sizes.

As with the previous question, I could give you a simple answer, but it wouldn't be an accurate one.

If you're picking between two areas that require reinforcements, it's not simply about which is the bigger need -- it's about what area can be helped the most, and which player is the better value and the best fit.

For example, the Broncos could take a left tackle with the No. 20 pick, but if they did, how much of an upgrade would they receive over internal options -- or a veteran free-agent or trade acquisition? Is the best play to take a tackle at No. 20, plug him in and hope he quickly develops, or is it to sign a veteran who is still on the market, then use a second- or third-round pick on a tackle who might have a higher ceiling, but would likely spend his rookie season as a backup or a game-day inactive while developing in practice?

Or do you even bypass the tackles entirely unless one slips and provides good value, knowing that the weak overall tackle class might lead teams to overdraft and reach?

And also remember that a playmaker -- if he can make plays short and in space -- can make life easier for the offensive line. Let's say you draft McCaffrey, who could work in the backfield or in the slot, among other spots. The threat of him on traditional screen passes and bubble screens could take the edge off an opposing pass rush and prevent opponents from simply teeing off on the quarterback; this is part of his value.

Why haven't we called up Colin Kaepernick. We were interested at one time?

-- Ernesto Garcia

Because that was last year, and the landscape of the Broncos' quarterback position is different now. This is this year, when the Broncos have two young quarterbacks on the roster -- one of whom started 13 games last year, with the other being a first-round pick. Colin Kaepernick's career rating of 88.9 is only 4.3 points higher than that of Siemian -- not an appreciable upgrade.

What do you see in the draft for mid-late round talent at receivers. Would a guy like Ryan Switzer from UNC be a good fit as our slot receiver beside Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders?

-- Shawn Doren

Switzer would be a good fit, but the versatility of Sanders would allow him to move into the slot if the need arises. So the Broncos don't specifically have to add a slot receiver, although Switzer's good hands, quickness and potential on returns make him a good fit. (Switzer had the second-best quickness score -- incorporating 3-cone and short-shuttle drills -- of any wide receiver at the Combine.)

Other sleeper picks at receiver include Akron's Jerome Lane (raw, but unusually quick for a 226 pounder and worth a late-round flyer), Western Kentucky's Taywan Taylor, Michigan's Jehu Chesson (timed numbers are better than his on-field speed and quickness, but Day 3 is usually the right spot in risk/reward ratio for players like that), Air Force's Jalen Robinette (quick for his size and an outstanding blocker who can win jump balls downfield) and Washington State's River Cracraft (productive slot man who is coming off a torn ACL and likely projects as an undrafted pickup).

Submit a question for the next Mailbag!

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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