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Mason's Mailbag: Revisiting the Mock Draft, coffin-corner punts, and more

Posted Feb 5, 2017

So why did Mase have Leonard Fournette not in his first mock draft? Find out the reason ... as well as a Super Bowl prediction.

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.

So I noticed in your first Mock Draft that you left Leonard Fournette out of the first round, unlike many other "expert" mock drafts. I was hoping you could expand on your reasoning here?

-- Mitch Ottoson

Absolutely. I have concerns about Fournette's ankle, which drove him down through the mock first round. Had I incorporated trades, I would have placed one into the late first round, which would have probably pulled Fournette off the mock board. But trades are so random and difficult to predict, I find that including them is a fairly pointless exercise.

If Fournette comes through the Combine medical examinations well, I expect he will not only be in the first round of a future mock, but comfortably so. For now, he slipped out of Round 1 on the mock.

Who do you have winning the Super Bowl?

-- Ahmed Chowdhury

Atlanta holds its opponents to 8.7 percent below their average points per game, while scoring 27.5 percent more on its foes than their average allowed per game. New England limits its opponents to 34.5 percent below their per-game scoring average, while scoring 8.6 percent more per game on its foes than they usually surrender.

Based on that, I have a final score of New England 27, Atlanta 24.

First, expect to see some zone elements remain. Few blocking schemes are pure zone or pure power anymore. But the biggest beneficiary could be Max Garcia, who as a rookie showed a tenacity and brawler-in-a-phone-booth style that could lend itself well to what the line does going forward.

Why don't punters use the coffin-corner kick much any more. It pins the other team back and there is no returning of it. Ray Guy was a master of that art.

-- Don Clark

Because other methods developed in recent years are more effective.

By holding the football differently -- in particular having the point of the football angled down toward the ground at about 45 degrees -- you can have what is colloquially called a "rugby-style punt," which takes some distance off but increases hang time and also the chances of having the football bounce back and away from the goal line, rather than skid into the end zone for a touchback.

Evidence of the success of such tactics lies in the fact that seven of the eight lowest touchback percentages for punts since 1976 -- when STATS, Inc. began keeping track of touchbacks on punts -- have come in the last seven seasons. Further, last season, punters placed 36.9 percent of their punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line; that is also a league record.

Although the Pro Bowl turned out to be a decent game in terms of competition we still need a way to keep it exciting. What if we played Pro Bowl players vs regular NFL players. Basically just have Pros vs Joes. Perhaps the pride factor would come into play.

-- Phillip Marshall

Then the Pro Bowl ceases to be a reward for the league's best players and becomes a novelty act. Further, that idea does nothing about the real issue -- which is that players understandably want to avoid injuries in a game that has no impact on the standings. (Their teams want them to avoid injuries, as well.) The nature of football as a collision sport hinders any effort to make the Pro Bowl more robustly competitive.

Did the Patriots just have the easiest run to the Super Bowl of all time? It seems like they didn't really play anybody great all year.

-- Joe Williams

No. In fact, Super Bowl winners like the 1999 St. Louis Rams ("Greatest Show on Turf"), the 1972 Miami Dolphins (the only undefeated Super Bowl winner) and the 1970 Colts (first post-merger champions) all had easy schedules, with their opponents winning fewer than 40 percent of their games. Those slates were substantially easier than the Patriots, whose opponents' winning percentage of .439 was the lowest in the league this season.

Do you think the Broncos would consider drafting Chidobe Awuzie or Tedric Thompson to their stable of stud defensive backs? How about Shay Fields as a WR? Historically, it seems the Broncos have ignored CU players no matter how good they are and teams like the Steelers covet them! I hope that trend changes especially with the high quality of players the Buffs are churning out these days.

-- Dennis Moore

I'm sure they'll study all viable prospects who are eligible for this year's draft, including those from CU. That list won't include Fields, because he returns to the Buffs' roster for 2017.

But to say that the Broncos historically ignore players from CU is completely incorrect. In fact, no school has produced more Broncos than CU, with 32 of its products on the team's regular-season roster over the years. The 1,158 total games played by CU players for the Broncos is also the most for any school.

Now that we have Mike McCoy on board, is there any chance of bringing in Philip Rivers?

-- Pete Cuttino

There is virtually no chance of that happening. The Chargers would be reluctant to trade Philip Rivers within the AFC West unless extracting an exorbitant price which would make any deal a poor one for the Broncos.

My question is concerning the turf I see on the fields now. When they make cuts I see what looks like ground up black rubber flying up. I also notice that when a receiver drags his feet across a sideline that the lines are not erased or affected. Clearly, this isn't the chalk of yesteryear. What is the makeup of the fields of today's game? When did it change? Does it vary between stadiums? What do players prefer? Is this an area that continues to evolve?

-- Dan Strebig

The rubber granules that you see coming from the field is part of the current generation of artificial fields in which rubber pellets are used between the artificial blades to create a softer layer that allows turf fields play more like grass and are softer on the joints than the old turf fields, which often had the consistency of Brillo pads after they became worn.

The lines aren't affected by players dragging their feet when they are permanently on the field. Some turf fields are created for American football, which means the turf blades are white on the sidelines, yard lines, hash marks, etc. (This isn't the case of all turf fields, especially those that are also used for Major League Soccer, like at Seattle's CenturyLink Field; the lines are painted on the turf for each Seahawks game.)

As for what players prefer ... most players still prefer grass, which remains easier on the joints than any turf.

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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