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Mason's Mailbag: Patience needed with young quarterbacks

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.

Do you think it's fair to judge a QB after only one season? I mean, Elway struggled his first season, Peyton Manning threw 28 interceptions, Tom Brady was considered average and a stop-gap and they had/have all Hall of Fame careers. On the other hand RGIII was considered good, Colin Kaepernick led San Francisco to the Super Bowl, etc. and their careers have gone downhill since then.

-- Abby Wilson

Absolutely not. Those examples you cited generally stand as reasons why you don't rush to conclusions regarding a quarterback's potential (although by the end of Brady's first season as a starter, he'd led a game-winning Super Bowl drive, so it was clear something special existed in him).

With Kaepernick and Griffin, both had systems and game plans that played to their strengths from their first starting assignments and they were able to flourish. Griffin's knee injury in a January 2013 wild-card loss to Seattle hindered his mobility; he was unable to fully adjust to the altered reality of not having the same elusiveness. Kaepernick has never been as accurate as he was in his first season as a starter; in three of the last four seasons, his completion percentage hovered below 60 percent, widely considered a demarcation point in that statistic.

It's difficult to have patience in the win-now environment of the NFL. But at quarterback that is required for proper evaluation. It's also necessary to prevent a perpetual spinning of wheels that results from hasty and preemptive cycling through quarterbacks.

Can Austin Pasztor be a possibility for Broncos at LT in free agency? He's still young and very underrated. Last season he played well for the Browns and would give insurance.

-- Luis Torres

Given that Pasztor has never started a game at left tackle in his professional career, that does not appear to be a realistic possibility. His versatility, including starts at both guard spots and at right tackle, should ensure that he lands somewhere.

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It seems like most draft analysts, and even fans for that matter, develop a list of "my guys". That is, a list of players that they personally hold in higher regard than where those players are being projected. Who are some of "your guys" in the upcoming draft?**

-- Mike Middleton

*Florida linebacker Alex Anzalone: *Injuries restricted his college playing time; if they recur, they could hinder him in pass coverage. But as a two-down defender against the run, he could be the best in this draft class.

*Virginia Tech tight end Bucky Hodges: *Last year, the Hokies hired Justin Fuente as their new head coach. Fuente brought the offensive concepts he used at Memphis to Virginia Tech, and no one benefitted more than Hodges, who lined up all over the place. If he can cut his drops, he will cause matchup problems for defenses.

*Villanova defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon: *Smart, athletic and raw, with a very high ceiling. At 6-foot-7 and 289 pounds, he has a body that could handle another 10 to 15 pounds. If he adds bulk, maintains his quickness and adds another move or two to his pass-rushing repertoire, he could be Malik Jackson, 2.0.

*Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey: *Given the stampede of praise for him from all corners, it seems like he's everybody's guy.

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Who will step up and be a solid No. 3 receiver? Seemed like Bennie Fowler was ready to be the guy after 2015, but not so sure after last year. Maybe it's someone not on the roster yet?**

-- Joey Sanchez

I wouldn't be surprised if the Broncos draft a wide receiver at some point, but beyond Fowler, you have potential on the roster in Jordan Taylor and Kalif Raymond, with Raymond a more natural fit as the slot receiver.

The quality of this year's tight end class could also allow the Broncos to add another tight end, and in effect, that player could fill the role of a No. 3 receiver. Prospects such as Hodges, Mississippi's Evan Engram or South Alabama's Gerald Everett, may fit that bill. They’re all versatile targets that could be used more in the slot and outside than as an in-line tight end.

Do you think the Broncos could possibly trade up for Forrest Lamp if he drops to 15??
-- @AO350legend (via Twitter)

Lamp seems most likely to go off the board late in the first round or early in the second round. There's a lot to like about Lamp, including his persistence, his work against high-level competition and his versatility. But I think that he'd be a reach at No. 15. Trading up to get him at that spot is likely to be an unnecessary move.

Which starting position do you feel is most "up for grabs" for somebody to steal by good work in training camp/preseason?

-- Kaden Smith

It would be obvious to reply, "left tackle." But since that position group could look radically different by the end of this month, it's best to sit and wait to see what the Broncos do there.

At this point, the answer is right defensive end. Jared Crick, who started there last year, returns. Zach Kerr was signed to push for that job. The wild card is Adam Gotsis; he could be in the mix if he does the required work in the weight room and can translate added strength to the field, especially in holding his ground at the point of attack.

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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