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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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Hire Zanders is what I say.

Sabermetrics has a quite interesting place in baseball's talent evaluation process. Maybe the NFL can learn a lesson or two from this. I'll bet a penny to a dollar Armando's sources criticizing Xanders aren't in line for GM promotion and most likely never will be.

With sabermetrics in the NFL as a talent evaluation tool, this guy Xanders could be onto something big. Where the hell were these doubters when Ireland was brought aboard? They probably thought quite highly of him in the begin.

Steve Jobs had no background in computer hardware or software, yet he became the most successful CEO (in computers, music, retail stores, cell phones and tablets) in modern times. Not bad for a nonprofessional.

Phins78....you forgot about CNN. None of these networks will be winning any Edward R. Murrow awards anytime soon. You've pointed out to me the very sorry state of news reporting. A lost art. Now it's more important that it be entertainment then serious 'reporting the news'. It seems that everyone has an agenda and the news is what they want it to be. Reality is driven by large corporate news organizations whose first interest is profit and thus 'cow towing' to their core of viewers. You can't say "raise taxes" on Fox and you can't say "lower taxes" on MSNBC. As far as CNN they have Wolf Blitzer need I say more?

hooka moms ... not bad...


Is the Ball Sniffers Club alligned with the Nursing Home Crew?

Posted by: Sigh | January 16, 2014 at 12:18 PM

I see you and are thinking along the same lines.

Before returning to squash this guy after receving emails from none spectacular scouts. Maybe Armando should have done a little homework on "SABERMETRICS" and enlighten the masses.

I did, I found Sabermetrics is widely used in baseball,
and is a more "OBJECTIVE" system of stats measure. Traditional stat measure is more face value and never looks underneath the rug to see what dirt is hiding.

Sam, sabremetrics has been in football evaluations for years now... Xanders is nowhere near original here.

There are numerous databases that compare combine test scores not only against fellow current year draftees but everyone else who played that position in the NFL since these test scores have become standardized.

Sabremetrics is right in MIT's wheelhouse






"...I'm not gay, I'm Canadian..."

Lot of venom on the blog today. Let's just agree that as a whole, the Dolphins organization has seen better days.

I wish Gamble would at least interview but if he doesn't want to be part of the solution then happy trails.

New GM coming soon. (rubbing my crystal balls)

Memo about the hiring of Bill Lazor:


Mark, I think the real question is, What is it about Armando's ball,that make some of the bloggers in here, want to sniff them? I think the next live blog Q&A session with Mando, I should pose this question. I think it's pertenent.

Most of this coming from people at home on unemployment

rdubs, yes it is. i do my own version right around draft time. Not nowhere near as in depth as needs to be if it was my job considering time, resource, and information restrictions. But my superficial research did tell me that the best players in round one in comparison to their first round rated piers were...

Lane Johnson
Eric Fisher
Sheldon Richardson
Tyler Eifert
Star Lotuleilei

For what it's worth, which isn't much ... but I find it entertaining...

rage, maybe he bathes them in rosewater? Been reading the third instalment of the Game of Thrones series and Varys the Eunuch bathes in rosewater ... but he has no balls....

peers, not piers.... duh


I would much rather stay here in pa with job security and good pay than move to Florida for the same things. There is also something to be said for "company men". For gamble- he wants to stick with lurie and Kelly and cold pa winters. My point was that you dot turn down a chance for a promotion or at least a chance to interview to build your cred unless you are content in your current situation. My point is gamble, decosta, and Schneider, didn't interview bc they are content where they are or well taken care of so why leave that?

So the Phin's LB's coach got the Minny DC gig....? WOW

Things are looking up in S FLA.

How in thee hell does this guy have a job, let alone get a promotion, after last year?

"Anyway, I was told other scouts don't think very highly of Xanders' ability to pick players"
I've seen and heard enough. He would be a poor choice for GM. The Tebow pick alone is enough to disqualify him.

Enough of this minority BS. Anyone here have someone alive yet that was affected by slavery? Its America you don't like it don't come here. Enough helping the free loaders that think they are owed something.


I will expect a thorough Tre Mason analysis LOL

Tebow was McDaniels doing. But I agree with you.

FYI, the NY Mets have been using 'Sabermetrics' for several years now. That has not turned too well. Iit's no more effective than other systems. There is always a story behind the numbers, numbers alone have little meaning. And in football those numbers have even less meaning that in baseball which is a statisticians dream sport.

rdubs, i will do the best I can... as far as RBs last year, the ones that came out with good scores were ...

Christine Michael
Giovani bernard
Le"Veon Bell
Johnathan Franklin

All picked in the 2nd round...

Eddie Lacy flunked my scorecard ... haha ... oops...

never said it was perfect.


Lacy is good. I dont see him ever playing a full season. He had numerous injuries even before entering the NFL

PFT also reported that the Fins might be looking at Xanders as a package deal in which he would work for Farmer. This idea I like quite a bit.

I have always wanted to know what Lovato means to those Tex-Mexs. btw, wth is sabermetrics?

MassD, i have a major problem with Sabremetrics in baseball as it pertains to it's application by various teams. For example, The blue jays gm uses it almost exclusively and loaded his team with home run hitters who also strike out a lot. Thinking was heck, they end up with good #s at the end of the year ... what it didn't show was they rack up these #s against poor pitchers which tend to not play in the playoffs or down the stretch on contenders.

Also this system totally ignores one of the biggest reasons for success in baseball ... situational hitting, productive outs...

OBP + Slugging % is one of the msot useless and stupid stats I've ever come across.

I am curious as to where Jordan in your scorecard? You know, the guy with 26 tackles that Ireland thought so highly of he traded a valuable 2nd rd pick to move up?

MassD, I had him as a solid and worth first round pick. Did anything i came across say they shoudl've traded up for him? No. But I'm an amateur...

After what I see in one year... I see a guy that has crazy athleticism but not soo much burst. I would rather use the guy out in space such as an OLB in either a 4-3 or a 3-4. He has the speed and agility to stay with TEs, blitz effectively, but I don't see the brute power or burst that leads me to think his best use would be in trying to beat a LT on most snaps... use him exactly the way NE uses Jamie Collins .. altho for my money, Collins is the better athlete.

Only good thing those Tex Mexs have produced, besides Trini Lopez(was it Lopes, did they get to the z), was Selena and at that I think she kinda.....hmm, sung to a different crowd.

Off the subject (Not that it matters in here). But I want to see how much Chip Kelly has rubbed off on Bill Lazor. (Get your mind out of the gutter 2 Watt). I would love to see a super fast tempo O. I know we need a complete overhaul on the O line, but if he bring's in a fraction of the innovative/specialty plays with him, then it would be a fraction more then what the Phins had this past year.

Lopez is a Hispanic last name

Lopes is more Portuguese....

WTH? Will you guys first GOOGLE sabermetrics, not sabremetrics, as you and Armando "misspell it".

Sabermetrics is not test scores. Please, take time to google and find exactly what it is before giving your own concoctions of what you think it is.

I did.


Do you have a mock draft for the Dolphins this year yet or will you wait until after FA? Curious to see if you had a mock draft last year for the dolphins and how the players have turned out so far.

Oh! In any case, I would have loved to fu-k Selena, even if she had come all over me.

rdubs, re: Lacy and why he didn't score well - he didn't do bench - I had no way to measure his upper body power - if he did, he may have worked his way into the top group anyways ... his test results were also poor or unmpressive... but he may not be an elite athlete but he is a football player...

Ya cant win without a QB.

This TreeMason doesn't look too good to me.(so apparently the Portuguese did not get to the z)


One thing for certain, no matter who the new gm is, Jeffrey Ireland has left him quite a mess to clean up.

Replacing 3 to 4 olinemen and possibly 2 rbs, this is just one side of the ball only. Leads me to believe it will be "near impossible" to "thoroughly" clean up in a single offseason.

Therefore, my 2014 outlook is for another 8-8 record or worse. Even 8-8, I would consider a "very good job" whomever the new gm will be. It will get "very ugly" if the new gm is "subpar". Im talking 6-10 to 2-14 ugly, guys.

wtf r u huntin' 4
with those 5.56 mm shells

Orlando, I didn't peg one player for each round but a few for each round or where they were expected go ...

in the first I was ok with Jordan but i would've rather the five players I listed above ... Lane, Fisher, Sheldon, Star, and Eifert.

Turns out they would've got more production from any one of those guys than they did from Jordan. Still, I couldn't crap on the pick.

2nd round... I had

Jamie Collins (star)
Terron Armstead (started at LT for the Saints near the end)
Margus Hunt (played a little for the bengals)
Sio Moore (started all year for the Raiders)
*Da'Rick Rogers (went undrafted but flexed his talent in limited opportunities with the coltts)

Oddly enough two of those guys were the immediate two picks before us, Hunt to Cincy, Collins to NE. jamar Taylor was the next guy on my list and he was our pick.

I was ecstatic.

Third round I had a nice grade on Will Davis and was happy with him. Dallas Thoams to me was an afterthought and was suprised he was our pick because he was hurt at the time. i would've preferred Brian Schwenke at the time. he went a little later to Tennesee and started at centre all year.

I loved jelani Jenkins in the fourth.

After that no point even talking about it because it's such a mish mash but none of the guys we picked I had highlighted.

So in the end, I thought we got excellent prospects in Jordan, Taylor, Davis, and jenkins. I think they all bode well for the future and all but Taylor showed promise in one way or another in year one.

Anyway, yes, i will be going through the same exercises this year and talking about some of the guys like I did last year.

* like last year

let it b 1-14
so that at least the
phinz get the 1st pix in 2015

Thank you. And for what it's worth I think your analyis of Jordan is spot on. I'll just add that he plays too high at times (very easy to get under his pads) and I saw him take too many plays off last year.

then in 2016 the
phinz can go 11-5
or 12-6 if the nfl
adds 2 more games by then

Funny how no one is interviewing Ireland for anything.

4 bros
it's all a cheap ross smoke screen
Ireland is still secretly the phinz gm

On Dion Jordan, 2 things:

If he's not the starter at olb in 2014

1. He's headed for bust
2. We have the NFL's most incompetent defensive coaching staff.

Nah, the defensive coaches are actually very good.

Marc how much snow do you have in Toronto?

Hey just relaized if I was in charge of the draft last April and made no trades at the draft, we would've ended up with

Sheldon Richardson (DT - bye bye Randy Starks)
Jamie Collins (OLB - bye Phillip Wheeler)
Terron Armstead (LT or RT)

Mr Ross, I'm available for the right price .. and the right price is about 10% of what you are paying these guys to get it wrong...

2 watt,

I enjoyed our special day at the mall yesterday, especially the wonderful pedicures we got!!

Oh, and those shoes you got at Macy's! To die for!!

sure mark

now? none, but we have a lot of ice accumulated in banks on the sides of the road because of the ice storm we had around the time of the Bills game. Knocked out power in the city in a lot of areas for up to about 9 days. That was rough. Luckily I was only out for two...

Don't believe me Dusty?

I will write it down again this year.

If you go back to the archives I mentioned each and every one of those players before the draft.


Sounds like you are a knowledgeable fan. Thanks for your insight. Look forward to your posts on this year's draft.

BTW- Based on your analysis last year that you agree with Ireland's picks (except for Thomas). I agree that we have to wait about 3 years before passing judgment on a draft.

thats great everyone mentioned richardson. takes more than mentioning guys but yeah we should all write down this year who we would draft in the spot, see how it turns out

It has been a normal winter here in WI. The kind of winter I remember as a kid. We have had 30 inches of snow so far and more as we speak

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