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Mason's Mailbag: Stacking up positions after the draft

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's your take on Su'a Cravens? In my opinion I think he's going to be a superstar. Thoughts?

-- Richard Hurst

To say he will be a "superstar" is a bold statement and not an expectation I would put on any player, whether he is a top-five pick or a second-rounder who has not played a game since the 2016 season. The current plan for Cravens is to have him work as a sub-package linebacker -- similar to how T.J. Ward was used in the box during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. This has been the most commonly used sub package in the last three seasons, and if Cravens can cover running backs and tight ends as well as the Broncos hope, he should flourish in that role. Good work there could lead to an every-down role in due time, but for now, that gives him a chance to gain his footing and establish himself.

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With Phillip Lindsay a great special-teams guy, including punt returning and two WR draft choices, is Isaiah McKenzie looking over both shoulders?**

-- Jeff D

Not exactly, considering that McKenzie was already off the top line, leaving him in pursuit mode. Head Coach Vance Joseph said at the NFL Annual Meeting in Orlando that Jordan Taylor was the first-team punt returner, not McKenzie. Taylor filled in for McKenzie late last season and averaged 9.4 yards per return while fumbling just once in 25 opportunities (11 returns and 14 fair catches). McKenzie had a lower per-return average last season (8.7 yards) and fumbled once every 4.7 opportunities.

Lindsay and DaeSean Hamilton (who fielded punts during Senior Bowl practice) will be among those likely to get chances to field punts in practice over the next few months. But Hamilton did not have a single punt return in a college game and Lindsay only handled kickoffs, with 82 percent of his 44 college kickoff returns coming in his freshman season.

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I love the Bradley Chubb pick and am excited to see him play. My question is regarding getting pressure on the QB up the middle. To me it is vital no matter how good Chubb and Von Miller are. I feel like Malik Jackson was the biggest loss to the D because of that reason. Who is the pressure going to come from?**

-- Russell Dillard

You're counting on at least one of a few things happening:

1) DeMarcus Walker finding his form as he returns to the interior in his second season.

2) Derek Wolfe, Adam Gotsis and Shelby Harris capitalizing off the attention given the edge rushers to generate more pressure up the middle.

3) Chubb being able to rotate to the inside, allowing the Broncos to use a speed-rush package that would incorporate at least three of the Broncos' edge rushers: Chubb, Von Miller, Shaquil Barrett and Shane Ray.

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Do you think Josey Jewell could win the second ILB spot? I think he is Denver’s biggest sleeper in this draft.**

-- Aidan Mann

Given that Brandon Marshall has three 100-tackle seasons in the last four years and that Todd Davis just signed a contract extension in March, the best likely outcome heading into this year -- barring injury -- is to be the top backup. But in time, he has the potential to develop into a starter if he can show the same instincts and ability to read plays as they develop as he did at Iowa.

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DeMarcus Walker and Bradley Chubb are close to the same size and weight. What makes Chubb better suited for linebacker/edge rusher and Walker better suited for defensive end?**

-- Steve Swendler

For starters, the 269-pound Chubb is 11 pounds lighter than Walker was when he was drafted; this is not an insignificant difference. Then there is the fact that Chubb has operated as a stand-up linebacker at North Carolina State, something that Walker did not do at Florida State, as he was focused on the defensive line, usually at an interior spot.

Then there is the difference in their timed speed; Walker ran a 4.88-second 40-yard dash time at his Pro Day in March 2017, while Chubb clocked a 4.65-second 40 at the 2018 Scouting Combine. Chubb's speed allows him to track down elusive quarterbacks in space, as he showed against Ravens first-round pick Lamar Jackson.

Does trading away a talented player like Aqib Talib create added pressure either from or for John Elway for the player drafted with the acquired pick (5th round) to make the team, and could that have had anything to do with the decision to trade that pick back to the Rams, thus muddling the return for Talib to the point a straight-up evaluation probably can't be made?

-- Sean Mahanna

No, and no. These ideas make for interesting sports-talk discussion, but they are not relevant notions in the draft room.

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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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