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A look at Dolphins GM candidate Brian Xanders

People I've been talking to about Dolphins GM candidate Brian Xanders generally have positive things to say about him: He's experienced. He knows the ins and outs of the NFL rules for player acquisition, salary cap, and other personnel matters to the point he served as John Elway's tutor on the topic -- obviously they didn't cover faxing. And he apparently dabbles in the idea of using a sort of sabermetrics to speed information gathering on players, something Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is certain to appreciate because he enjoys being confused by such things.

[Update: Three NFL people and two others who apparently read this post either texted me or emailed me to say Xanders is not all that. The pushback was so overwhelming that I decided to add this update. Anyway, I was told other scouts don't think very highly of Xanders' ability to pick players. And as for his experience, they say he has none actually picking players. So there is that. I was also told Xanders fits Ross in that he's calm and very willing to play nice with others. A more balanced outlook.]

Xanders completed his interview with the Dolphins on Wednesday. He was the sixth candidate to interview. But immediately he stands out because he is the first candidate for Dolphins GM who has been an NFL GM before.

Xanders was the Denver Broncos GM from 2009-2012. He was the team's assistant GM in 2008.

It's unclear how much personnel say Xanders truly had in Denver. He didn't have final say under coach Josh McDaniels. And he certainly didn't have it after McDaniels was fired and the Broncos hired John Elway. But he was obviously a resource.

After Xanders was fired from the Broncos after the 2012, the Denver Post recapped his time with the team and what personnel decisions were made under his watch. Here it is:


Draft: Xanders’ first in Denver, was one to forget. The Broncos used their two first-round picks to select running back Knowshon Moreno and defensive end Robert Ayers, neither of whom have lived up to first-round billing. But it was the second round of that draft that was particularly poor. None of three players drafted in that round, cornerback Alphonso Smith, safety Darcel McBath or tight end Richard Quinn, was on the roster in 2012.

ree agency: The first free-agent class of the McDaniels-Xanders era was a big one, and included veterans such as safety Brian Dawkins, wide receiver Jabar Gaffney, cornerback Andre Goodman, running back Correll Buckhalter and longsnapper Lonie Paxton.

Trades: Xanders helped orchestrate the blockbuster trade that sent quarterback Jay Cutler to Chicago. The Broncos received two first-round picks, a third-round pick and quarterback Kyle Orton in exchange for a fifth-rounder and Cutler, who began feuding with McDaniels shortly after the new coach was hired.


Draft: The Broncos made a splash in the first round of the draft by making two trades down and two trades up and ultimately winding up with wide receiver Demaryius Thomas at No. 22 and quarterback Tim Tebow at No. 25. The Broncos also drafted starters Zane Beadles, J.D. Walton and Eric Decker in the second day of the draft.

Free agency: The Broncos’ big free agent signings were defensive tackles Justin Bannan and Jarvis Green, who both received big-money contracts. Green, who had $3.25 million guaranteed in his contract, did not make the 53-man roster. Bannan was released in a cost-saving move in 2011 before re-joining the team this year. Later, the Broncos signed defensive end Elvis Dumervil and guard Chris Kuper to contract extensions.

Trade: The Broncos traded troubled wide receiver Brandon Marshall to Miami for two second-round draft picks. The other notable trade of the offseason came when Denver shipped fan-favorite running back Peyton Hillis to Cleveland in exchange for quarterback Brady Quinn. Quinn never took a regular-season snap for the Broncos.


Draft: With the highest pick in team history, Denver drafted linebacker Von Miller at No.2, and he was an immediate star. The Broncos drafted three other players who started in 2011 — safeties Rahim Moore and Quinton Carter, and right tackle Orlando Franklin.

Free agency: The biggest names in the Broncos’ post-lockout free agent class were running back Willis McGahee, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards in 2011 and made the Pro Bowl as an alternate, and defensive tackle, who suffered a season-ending injury in training camp.

Trades: The Broncos traded for defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley in August, and he went on to start 13 games. The team was unable to re-sign Bunkley this spring. Denver also traded wide receiver Jabar Gaffney to Washington for defensive end Jeremy Jarmon, who did not make the team. In October, the Broncos traded unhappy wide receiver Brandon Lloyd to St. Louis for a fifth-round draft pick.


Draft: Denver traded out of the first round of the draft before selecting defensive tackle Derek Wolfe at No. 36 and quarterback Brock Osweiler at No. 57 in the second round. Denver drafted seven total players.

Free agency: Other than the Peyton Manning signing, Denver otherwise has been relatively quiet in free agency. The team signed veteran free agent Mike Adams and re-signed linebackers Joe Mays and Wesley Woodyard.

Trades: After Manning signed on as the team’s new starting quarterback, the Broncos traded Tim Tebow to the New York Jets in exchange for fourth- and sixth-round draft picks.

So clearly there were bombs. But there were highlights. The 2010-2011 drafts produced the most starts (155) and playing time (more than 12,000 snaps) of any NFL team.

Xanders is said to have unearthed cornerback Chris Harris, who was an undrafted free agent.

Xanders is currently Detroit's senior personnel executive under Martin Mayhew. Xanders was hired by the Lions in January 2013 and one of his responsibilities was to develop an internal scouting database to help the team better process information during the draft. 

So what does Xanders look for when he scouts?

"We're looking for guys with football instincts, which is wide vision, anticipation, savvy angles, quick recognition of what's going on," Xanders told Fox Sports Florida in 2012. "What instincts and speed lead to is production. If you have that and some athleticism and strength, you tie it all together and all you have to have is some competitive toughness. You get a productive player.

"And off the field, we grade a player in four different areas. Injury and durability, and that's just a function of how they made it through college. Number two is mental and learning. The third thing is personal character, the dependability, the leadership, the off-field issues or no issues, and then their family. The fourth is football character, which is effort, work ethic, passion for football. It all blends into this scouting process."


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I agree that Wilson has more players around him which lightens his load considerably but at the sametime. If Wilson was the same height as Tannehill he would have been a higher first round pick than Tannehill and on top of that wouldn't have been considered a reach like Tannehill was. I have said numerous times that I am not on the bandwagon of getting rid of Tannehill just not sure he is the long term solution to our need for a franchise QB. Am I wrong for feeling that way?

2nd Jets game, yes. And since you brought up the slide (I had actually forgotten that play,) the minute he committed to running for the first down he should've sold out to get it. I wouldn't suggest that on every play but think just how pumped his teammates would've gotten to witness that.

I remember a not so limber Marino his first game back from achilles injury selling out for a first down by launching himself into the muddy infield at JRS. I was lucky enough to be there for that great game. He willed the Dolphins to victory that day.

When Tannehill was drafted - and this is all old news - it was well known that because of the small number of college games he played at QB, he would likely require some patience to develope. So it is not surprising he's show inconsistency in his play the first 2 years. A bad OC and OL has not helped in his developement. But I do have hope for next year. The receiving corp is a good one, there is a new OC in place, and if the OL can be at least upgraded to average then it's all on him to grow as a QB.

James Hurst is a cow.

Massdolphin if you have seen Wilson or kaep thry should not be put in the same sentence as RG3 thill and luck! These 3 QBs were put into the fire in awful teams that won less than seven games in there respective season
Wilson was drafted by a playoff team and kaep was drafted and groomed by a top 5 team in the NFL.

3 things those team have on the dolphins
They can run the ball consistently for much needed yardage
There o-lines are very good and always give there QBs a stable pocket
And there defense can stop the run something our cannot do

Belichek says stats mean nothing. Lazor says stats mean nothing.

Bloggers spend their whole day quoting stats.

Who are the idiots and who aren't?

I've noticed that some QB's in this blog get blamed not only for everything that happened on offense, defense and special teams but get the blame for shht that happened before/after they were even on the team.

However in Tanne's case he deserves none of the blame?
C'mon man.


I got that from your previous post about Ross not wanting to give one person total control. You also said that Ireland had total control when actually he never did. So in truth Ross really isn't changing much from a control standpoint. Ross is changing the chain of command of who people have to report too. When it seemed before that Ireland reported to Ross but Philbin and Aponte(partially)reported to Ireland who maybe then took what they said to Ross with his own interpretation of it. Ireland didn't have the authority to fire Aponte nor any of the coaching staff.

Stats are good for comparison purposes but they can't measure the intangibles. Drew Brees didn't set the league on fire his first few years but he certainly had the intangibles and he finally put them together. Hope that happens here.

Now comparing the 4 actual 2012 draft Qbs i can say this
Thill not a media favorite never gets mentioned even when he gets the job done
He improved from a rookie to a promising second year player

Luck the golden child in the media gets praised even after bad games. Luck is better than thill right now, i can say that thill intercepts less and had a better progression in his sexond year than luck did

Rg3 used to be the other golden child then became scrutinized by the media for regressing big time this year. Being honest shanahan messed up his career making him a running QB instead of teaching from the pocket. I think RG3 will never be the same after the knee injury

Foles did not play much in his rookie year but stepped up in his second. Had a very accurate year and looks very promising! However! Defenses caught up and game planned against foles turning him into a average QB. Lets see how his third year goes


I live in Raleigh,NC where NC State is. Russel was always a good QB. He also has tons of experience. I like Russel Wilson and is a quality QB. But what bothers me, is we cant overlook RB and OL. They werent even mediocre, I cant help but to think early in camp when Philbin said he wasnt concerned with the running game. I hope he is concerned now.

I agree that Tannehill's long ball needs work. I also think a few of those passes could have been caught if Wallace even fought for the ball a little.

With an improvement to our running game and OL. This should be the year we see the true Tannehil. I will firmly admit I am drinking the Tanny kool aid. With that being said, I want to see us draft a QB and drop Moore.

Posted by: Si senor | January 17, 2014 at 10:11 AM

Gracias Si senor

Get youro arse back in bed!

Drink me Mark, Drink me!

ETF, look away from your Chad Henne poster for a second... ok, now look at my post at 9:57. Where did I say Tannehill was perfect?

One more time in the butt, Mark!

One more time!

Swallow lover, swallow~

You don't drop Moore, Rdubs, you trade him. He is a good QB and an excellent backup.

I do believe the future AFC battles will feature luck and thill one the golden child and one the forgotten one!!!
Gonna be epic!!
Luck does have 2 playoff appearances and did well in both.
Wish thill had some playoff experience!

Agree with you massdolfan thill was a experiment that needed patience, dont worry guys i know that our patience will pay off
The old cliche says "good things happen to those who wait"

2014 luck vs tannehill!!!!!!! No tannehill vs luck!!!

EOR, i would contend RG3 didn't really regress but we saw what happened when he was asked to pass more - that was a heavy heavy run offense the previous year - he threw 26 times per game in 2012 ~ the same as Wilson and kaep. This year, 35 times per game because his defense stunk and he couldn't run as well. I contend we would see something similar from those two if they had to pass as much...

I forgot to add that Tanne and the offense had to deal with the fact the Dolphin's D regressed this past season, which probably led to less time on the field for the offense. I saw way too many long drives that led to TDs given up by the defense this past year.

Posted by: Fin_Fan_in_DC | January 17, 2014 at 10:12 AM

Let's put it this way, Ireland had more control than Ross wanted to continue to give him. This is all academic stuff and its a forgone conclusion that Ross is changing the structure of reporting. Personally I believe for the better due to past big shots like Johnson, Saban, Parcells and then Ireland not getting the job done with what ever control they had. Do not split hairs over who gives a shyt stuff.

Really? Is that humour where you are from, Home-O?

I would contend that Mark loves my brown eye.


Who would trade for Moore? He makes like 5 mill this year. I think we get Tannehill a good OL that doesnt get him sacked 80'leven times, we should never have to use our back up.Tannehill seems pretty damn sturdy. I would rather pay patterson that money, even if he only plays 8-11 games.

back to bed for another special sauce facial.


Nothing gets me more angry than someone that uses Inappropriate humor badly!!!!

Especially since you and I do it much better(not in the butt)

I'm tired of scrubbing the skid marks out of your underwear.


I always thought NC State coach was fool telling Wilson football no baseball or you won't start or play(can't remember which). Defintely can not over look Lynch and that OL. I 100% agree that a better running game and OL will truly help Tannehill out. I still think old school football "THE GAME IS WON AND LOST ON THE LINE!!" You right about Wallace not fighting for the ball. I agree about drafting a QB to give Tannehill some real QB camp competition. Would love for that to happen. If we draft a QB I would drop Devlin and keep Moore. I wouldn't our 3 QB's to be Tannehill,Rookie and Devlin.

Get back on your filthy knees Mark and play catch again.

squirt! squirt!


Somebody is infatuated with you. Don't you think it's time to tell him you like girls. You might want to get a restraining order as well.

I agree rdubs, fart and dikk jokes have their place and are a staple of a good laugh. But Home-O's a loser. He got banned for this exact same thign twice before. He lacks humour awareness...

Could be from ebing home schooled and breast fed by his mother until he was 36.


I like you bro. you can debate without being a dikk and seem reasonable

ff71, no need, It's Home. He's always wanted my knob stuck down his throat... just let him act it out and eventually his mom will call and we can get on with the day ... or Mando will have him banned for the third time...

Hey, Armando, get this fu-k outta here. He doesn't let us talk Football since yesterday. Apparently, he got mad again.

You get that guy Mark.

How was being dick fed until 36 yrs old working pout for you.

Now get home and drink me!

Daytona is as MAD as hell and he cannot take a Dong anymore.

We have to get something for Moore, Rdubs. In any case he's a goner and the only reason he was here was becuse of his Ireland connection. We should pick up a QB in the Draft.

TannePuke is a 5th rd project that is not working out. Drafting him in the 1st rd was idiotic.

who is u'r new
friend that u'v been hiding
in the closet this whole time?

caddy all of the lemon qb's
come thru davie to finally die


Perhaps we can re-coup the pick we lost for Mckinnie. I dont see a high pick for him

mkini stays
he wants to stay u out of touch out of towners

Why are we still talking about Ireland? Did nobody get the news that he was fired last week? Seriously, what gives? Who cares! Next topic....

I know, let's talk about Nick Saban. Or how about how we should have signed Brees, rather than traded for Culpepper.


Thanks man I love a good debate and go back and forth with good knowledgable folks which you seem to be. Makes my work day go by a lot faster!!

MOUTH.STFU. Who are you tell people what to discuss on the blog MORON.

Craig M for MORON wants to tell us what to talk about?? LMFAO!!!!!!

mkini is in decent shape
and he is the only option now.
get used 2 him.

Craig M for MORON wants to tell us what to talk about?? LMFAO!!!!!!
Posted by: Blogger | January 17, 2014 at 10:53 AM

Yeah, he doesnt like the conversation!! So he cries like a baby.

is that u?

Sure thing buddy....whatever you say....

u have the best blog
in cyber space

Ireland cant get a job at McDonalds.


You are correct, because he is overqualified!!

ohhhh Burrrrrrrn!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cameron Erving returning for his sr year sure has put a wrinkle in the OT class for this year's draft - have to agree with you there 2 watt. Thos hoping to find our left tackle in the draft may be left wanting. Zach martin appears to be a 2nd round talent. Cyrus obviously is not ready by his bowl appearance. Robinson and Lewan dropping are the ebst bets for day one starters - that may not happen though.


Your making some good points and yes we could trade Moore. Not sure who might want him? His contract is for $4 mil this year (as it was for last) and it's NOT guaranteed!!!

Most overrated player in the NFL? Russell Wilson! Over the last 5 games his QB rating is between 52 and 56. Not sure what his rating was after last weeks game but going in to last week, for the previous 4, he had a rating of 52.7. And last weeks' game wasn't a 'classic'. Did nothing to improve his stats. He really wasn't much good and Seattle won inspite of Wilson.

Someone said that "if Wilson was Tannehill's height", etc. He's not and never will be! Both Kaepernick and Wilson are very nice QB's that do well in the system designed for them or they inherited. Little need for their teams to rely on these two having to carry them. Two outstanding D's and two good running games. Neither team plays from behind all that often.

haha, rdubs, BURRRRNNN!!

Man, that's an 80s classic...

signal, I think Newton is much the same way ... get up 10+ points on them and it's over.

Posted by: Craig M | January 17, 2014 at 10:50 AM

Amen to that! And to ALL the posters (Dashi, Mark, etc.) who seem to pull for this guy or that coach or GM, allow me to give you another refreshing point-of-view.

Harbaugh had a presser yesterday, and was asked about the season being gratifying if they didn't win the SB because they would've gotten this far again. And his answer was classic, basically said whatever we did doesn't matter, all that matters is what we're doing to make today a great day.

That should be EVERYONE'S point-of-view here. Tannehill, yeah great, his biggest feat was 8 wins. Ireland, great, his biggest feat was 1 Playoff appearance (lost). Marino, great, biggest feat was playing in a SB (lost).

So EFFE all that. I care about what the team is doing TODAY to make it great. What they will do to get TO a SB. What they will do to WIN a SB. You all are debating LOSERS, because every single team, player, coach, FO is a LOSER unless they are the SB Champs. So when you compare Tannehill to Luck, you're comparing LOSERS. When you compare Ireland to 30 other GMs, you're comparing LOSERS. It's all about wins, it's all about trophies, it's all about glory.

Power and control don't equate to trophies. An ok QB with an average RB and the worst OL in the history of the team don't equate to trophies. It takes 53 players, a coaching staff and FO all working everyday in unison, with one goal and one goal ONLY in mind, which is to be the best and do anything and everything to make yourself the best that make dreams happen. So far, Miami has not been able to achieve that sort of greatness. The fans are tired of losing. I'm waiting for the day when the franchise comes to the place the fans are at. When I see it, I'll believe it.

DC Dolfan

Can't and won't agree. Your saying just because Warren Buffet isn't the richest man in the world that he's a LOSER! Bu******t! Everybody that ever played the game then and now are LOSERS if they've not won the SB? Your reasoning is seriously flawed. If Belechick doesn't win it this year his legacy will be tarnished because of it? There are one h**l of a lot of very good players and coaches who haven't, as yet, won it! Thus they're LOSERS?

Your definition of a winner and a loser defy logic! But I suspect it wasn't logic that was the reason for your post!

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