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Mason's Mailbag: Noah Fant was the right choice for many reasons

Mase,

Is there any way the list of 100 can be expanded for fans to consider?

It blows my mind that Jack Dolbin isn’t listed, a player Paul Zimmerman considered one of the most overlooked guys in the game. And fan favorites like Glenn “Lumpy” Hyde or Chip “Myrtle’s Turtles” Myrtle or Larry “The Mailman” Canada and so many others.

It is fine to write them in but it does a disservice to those guys to not have their names listed.

-- Pablo Dorzweiler

The write-in vote is the only way to vote for them, sorry. There wasn't room for all of them on the ballot.

When I worked on creating a list of 200 nominees for the ballot, the first item to handle was to make sure every player who made at least one Pro Bowl as a Bronco was on the list. Then it was creating standards at each position, based on productivity, games started, etc. For Hyde, that's where he came up short compared to other offensive linemen; he started just 12 games as a Bronco. Dolbin ranked 23rd in Broncos history in receiving yardage, although I must note that he was on the cusp of being on my list of 200.

Players with notable accomplishments who had short Broncos tenures were among those making the ballot cut. For example, I don't think you can have the ballot without kickoff and punt returner Trindon Holliday. While wearing a Broncos uniform, he had the greatest postseason return game in NFL history, becoming the only player to ever return a punt and a kickoff for a touchdown in the same postseason contest.

As a college-basketball enthusiast, I view this through the prism of selecting the field for the NCAA Tournament each March. Occasionally, you hear bubbles of sentiment for expanding the field to from 68 teams to 96 or even 128 teams (which would be absurd). Some feel this would reduce the debate over the final teams in. It won't. All it will do is change the landscape of the debate. Instead of arguing over a cluster of power-conference teams with records in the 20-12 range and mid-majors in the realm of 25-8, you'd shift the ground of the debate to power-conference teams with .500 records and mid-majors with 10 to 12 defeats.

So no matter where the line for making the ballot was drawn -- at 150, 200, 250, or 300 -- there would be a bit of controversy. That debate is a healthy thing -- and part of the fun of selecting the #Broncos100.

Do you think the Noah Fant pick was twofold? First we get a great tight end, and second we keep the Raiders from using him against us twice a year.

-- Glenn Fischer

No. If you draft based on preventing a specific player from going to a division rival, you might miss out on helpful prospects at positions that rival may not be targeting in the first place.

There are more than enough Broncos-related reasons for taking Fant. These start with the fact that the team has just 13 regular-season touchdown receptions by tight ends since Julius Thomas' free-agent departure in 2015. Only the Los Angeles Rams and New York Jets have fewer scores from their tight ends in the last four seasons.

So when you have the chance to add a receiving threat with 4.5 speed, one who has 18 touchdowns the last two years and should be an effective red-zone target in the NFL, you have ample cause to grab him. That is the case regardless of what your AFC West foes might do.

After the draft, several teams signed 20 undrafted players, but at the time, it didn’t show the Broncos signing any. How does signing undrafted players work? It seems like first come, first served? If so, why didn’t we grab players ASAP?

-- Martin Stockton

Nobody signed players right after the draft. Players agreed to terms, but generally did not sign until days later. Some teams choose to post the additions of new players when they agree to terms. Others, like the Broncos, wait until their signatures are on the deals to make the announcement. This isn't a bad idea, considering that there have been players in the past who agreed, only to back out.

Like every other team in the NFL, the Broncos had agreed to terms with most of their undrafted additions within hours of the draft's conclusion.

Hey Andrew! I was really hoping we would have selected one of the Devins (Bush or White) instead of moving back in the first round. The defense has struggled to cover TEs in years past, so you think Coach Fangio’s scheme will clear that up or we will sign a free agent to help?

-- Tanner Steineke 

Don't be surprised if a free agent is added at some point between now and the preseason. Denver has found contributors at linebacker as late as August, including camp signees such as Keith Brooking (2012) and Paris Lenon (2013).

But Fangio's tactics will aid the returning inside linebackers. You can expect to see more zone coverage. Perhaps no player will be helped more by this than 2018 fourth-round pick Josey Jewell; I expect him to make a significant leap in this scheme. Fifth-round pick Justin Hollins could also help with his 4.5 speed if he can make a quick transition.

Have the Broncos ever drafted players who were born on a Star Wars film's release date?

-- Paul Frame (@PaulFrame85 via Twitter)

They haven't drafted any, but they've had two on their roster -- both on the offensive line.

Guard Steve Herndon, who played 22 games over the 2001-03 seasons and started 12 of them (three in 2001, nine in 2002) was born on the date that "A New Hope" was released: May 25, 1977.

Guard Montrae Holland, a free-agent signee in 2007 who started every game that season, was born on May 21, 1980. That was the date "The Empire Strikes Back" hit U.S. theaters.

Over the next decade or two, we should see a name or two added to that list, as players born on the release dates of "The Phantom Menace" (May 19, 1999), "Attack of the Clones" (May 16, 2002) and "Revenge of the Sith" (May 19, 2005) will break into the league.

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