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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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That would have been one hell of a draft, Mark.

jets got smart and signed rex ryan to ext. was hoping they wouldnt

Mark from Toronto- what metrics do you use to rate players. I would like to learn how you do it!

Dusty, whats the O/U on how many days before Rex starts talking about Superbowl bound Jet's?

frank he throws darts in the cold canada winter

Boy, is this kid Jake Matthews going to be good or what. He gave Manziel plenty of time last Season and on top he's a terrific blocker that can pull plus very smart too. The first that should be nabbed by the Dolphins if they can.

Xanders=phony&a fraud&more failure.
If Ross hires Xanders we're doomed again.

who knows rage but ryan is one hell of a coach. took that garbage and won 8 games with it. if they find a qb look out

oscar manziel and matthews will most likely be first 2 picks of draft

dusty, i said straight up last year @ 12 Richardson wuld be my guy considering we couldn't get Johnson or Fisher (turns out we could've got Johnson). People thought it was a luxury pick because we had three dts in Starks, Soliai, and Odrick. Well, doesn't look like a luxury now.

I know it's all in hindsight but a draft of Richardson, Collins, Armstead, and Schwenke would've fixed up this franchise nicely...

And I agree, we should write it down...

And the new GM for the Dolphins is:

Mark in Toronto

You should send your metrics to Ross. Maybe there is a future for you with the dolphins.

race, mcuh the same here. Colder and nastier than many recent winters here...

I think Matthews will be gone in the first 5 picks. Probably before the person who he was blocking for.

yikes on fisher, what a horrible pick by kc

IMO- from reading the article he has had some hits and some misses, which is, hmmm, similar to Ireland. Maybe Ireland wasn't so bad.

These are touchy things, you know. If I had Jake Matthews and Sammy Watkins at my disposal to draft either one in that 1st Rd, at this moment, time and place, I would draft the Matthews kid.

I agree that we have to wait about 3 years before passing judgment on a draft.

Posted by: Orlando Dolphan | January 16, 2014 at 01:31 PM


Oh my God, a rational statement on Dolphins in Depth!

Don't you know where you are?!?

Nonsense! It is every fans obligation to INSTANTLY judge each and every draft pick even though we have absolutely no idea whatsoever how they will actually do as pros! Don't you know we are all EXPERTS??

Guys, if I could clarify a few things for you:

A) Lazor is going to be the OC, he can't overhaul personnel (that's the GMs job). If he's not given any goodies, he can't bake a delicious cake. We should know fairly quickly if Ireland really was the problem all along (which will offer some posters here a chance to say, "I told you so" over and over again).

B) This will be JOE PHILBIN'S offense that Lazor will tweak. So don't expect a Chip Kelly offense or anything like that. He only spent a year with Chip, and he's been in many different offenses, so probably has a hybrid of what he thought worked best. But the good news is Joe also believes in up-tempo, so we could see offshoots of last year's Philly offense maybe (again, goes back to talent).

C) Chip Kelly mainly used his TE for blocking (McCoy was the centerpiece). We neither have a McCoy and Joe doesn't like to run as much even if we did (I assume). The offense he came from used their TE as a pass-catcher. So it will be interesting to see how Lazor either bends to Joe's demands or gets Joe to buy into incorporating more of the run game. A lot will probably depend on how effective it is.

D) Bill Lazor's #1 priority is to get Ryan Tannehill to develop into his potential. He, and his offense, and Joe Philbin, and the team will ALL be saved or sold down the river based on his ability to develop Tannehill. We can talk about the line or the run game or the WCO or anything we want, but trust and believe Lazor truly has 1 mindset, make RT the real deal.

E) Lazor isn't a demigod. Neither was Chip Kelly by the way. Or Belichick or Parcells or ANYONE. YOU. NEED. ELITE. TALENT. TO. BE. A. SUCCESSFUL. PROFESSIONAL. FOOTBALL. TEAM.

It's fun to talk x's and o's, formations, pass patterns, blocking assignments, run styles. But it's meaningless if you have semi-pro personnel starting for your ballclub. I'm not saying we do, I AM saying we don't have enough elite talent. We need more. Our GM needs to get it right in March-Aug. if we're ever to make it to January. Getting the OC was important, but getting the right GM will be ESSENTIAL!

Frank, basically I rank players in the following categories - size, production, and their performance in each of the six major combine/pro day test results - 40, bench, cone, shuttle, vertical, broad. Tabulate the results and voila...

I would like to take it one step further and try to find a direct line of how results of each test is a predictor of future success at a position in the league ... but I presently don't have the time for that...

So, dusty?

Read the Update folks.... MANY NFL professionals feel STRONGLY that hiring Xanders would be a BIG Mistake.
Like Big O said yesterday.

so we havent a shot at him. alabame guy wouldnt be a bad start

Fu-k you, man. odin, YG and I have picked great Players BEFORE they got to the NFL.

haha @ Orlando, Ross knows where he can hit me up ....

A guy can only wish.....

Who said we haven't a shot at him, you, dusty? We have some good Players we can trade including a good QB. NOTHING is unreachable.

I'd pass on Xanders. Farmer looks like he would be the right fit or maybe give Pioli another shot

Does John Clayton have projeria? Is he really only like 12 years old?

I Heart Radio, are you Orlando Alzugaray?

oscar come on dude, be real. no way on pioli but i agree on farmer hes my choice now that gamble is gone


Why was fisher a bad pick?

watch some film rdubs. kc hates the guy, was even healthy towards end when they still didnt play him. they know they messed up big time on that pick. hes so small and overmatched and now they have to use him at lt next year!

NOTHING is unreachable, dusty. I know.


CELLAR ........

You guys know as much about judging players or predicting their future prospects as you do about nuclear physics or Keynesian Economic Theory.

WELCOME THE CARP TALK ..............

EVEY BLOGGER THINKS A LOT OF HIMSELF LIKE (( DAshi )) the donkey ............


I dont plan on watching any KC film. But that does indeed suck, if he Fisher fails. Damnand joeckle was injured all year. Thats a bad sign for those 2 LT's



Yeah, I probably missed on Fisher but I had Zach Ertz over Eifert, that was as clear as crystal.

Damn rage @1:51

I was wondering the same thing. Stop patting yourself on the back Orlando, it's embarrassing already.

ertz and eifert have bright futures, neither started but learned from 2 good ones

Whoth is Orlando Alzugaray?

So now we're to believe that some of you are "watching film" of certain teams and/or players?

Please. Just stop. It's embarrassing to even read crap like that.

Oscar, I guessing it's I Heart Radio.

Oh, it's this Time of Year, Orlando. We have nothing else to do Football wise.


Its horrible isnt it...The season isnt even over and I hate I have to wait

We need an NFL2...That takes place during the offseason

Arena football sucks and so did the UFL

Bring back the XFL Vice Mcmahon

LAZOR: "...Miller and Wallace just as good as McCoy and Jackson...no comment on Tannehill..."

2014 Mock

1. Cyrus Kouandijio LT Alabama
2. Carlos Hyde RB Ohio St
3. AJ McCarron QB Alabama
4. Kelcy Quarles DT S. Carolina

Kouandjio is good value at #19. Hyde? 2nd rd may be a little too early but I believe he will be worth it because of the production we could receive from him.

AJ McCarron. What better way to push Tannehill than bringing in a 2-Time Nat' Championship qb?

Kelcy Quarles. Scouting report says still needs work in run game. But, 9.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss in 2013. Walter Campbell has him going to us in rd 4.

hyde wont be there in 2nd

That's funny. I'm a Tanny supporter of sorts, but thats damn funny.

u meant 3 time nat champ guy

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?
Posted by: rage | January 16, 2014 at 12:45 PM

Rage, that's coz it's the players! The product on the field brought in by Irescum was pathetic! garbage! soft! no sense of where to be on the field other than what the play call was. Players do have to be accountable for their actions and ellerbe and pos wheeler (almost forgot his name already) showed it, terribly!

Dusty Walter Campbell has Hyde going in the 3rd rd.

Harbin, which was originally a Manchu word meaning "a place for drying fishing nets", grew from a small rural settlement on the Songhua River to become one of the largest cities in the northeast. The city first prospered as a region inhabited by an overwhelming majority of the immigrants from the Russian Empire. It is known for its bitterly cold winters and is often called the "Ice City."

Harbin is notable for its beautiful ice sculptures in winter and its Russian legacy, and it still plays an important part in Sino-Russian trade today. In the 1920s, the city was considered China's fashion capital since new designs from Paris and Moscow reached there first before arriving in Shanghai. In 2010, Harbin was declared a UNESCO "City of Music".

Sam, I would not mind that draft at all. I'm not going to lie and say I know much about Quarles,but the Phins will need to address the DT position somewhere in the draft.And those are some nice stats for a big man coming out of the middle of the line.

The soil in Harbin, called “black earth” is one of the most nutrient rich in all of China, making it valuable for cultivating food and textile-related crops. As a result, Harbin is China’s base for the production of commodity grain and an ideal location for setting up agricultural businesses.

The local cuisine in Harbin is also Russian-influenced. Harbin's bakeries are famous for their bread da-lie-ba(大列巴) in local dialect, derived from the Russian word khleb for "bread". Harbin's sausages (harbin hong-chang) are another notable product, in that they tend to be of a much more European flavours than other Chinese sausages.

kiper has him going first rd

The architecture style of Harbin shows a unique combination of oriental and European architecture styles. The city is well known for its unique, Russian and other European-influenced architecture. The architecture in Harbin brings the city the name of "Oriental Moscow" and "Oriental Paris".

loso204, I have to disagree with ya, man. Dansby and Burnett had career years this past season. I don't think it was because they forgot to play the position while they were here in Miami.

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