Mystery-man. Enigma. The Shadow. Mr. X
Gauging Xander's impact on the Broncos won't be easy, but we will charge forward nonetheless, after all, that is part of what this little experiment is all about. As a number's man, a capologist and a CBA savant, there is little doubt, and so assessing the contracts to come in free agency (and for our rooks) is important in Xander's grade, albeit a future grade.
The college free agent class is another area that is probably more Xander's and his staff than Fox or Elway. Fox will be part of the decision in terms of what he likes or doesn't like, Elway will probably weigh in a bit, given that he has heard of a guy who found pretty decent success in Denver as a CFA (Mr. Smith goes to Canton? We can only hope...), but overall, the names that Elway and Fox get to see will only be a slice of the total class available in CFA, and that will be due to the work of Mr. Xanders. But again, a weigh in on that issue remains in the future.
What exactly can we grade him on then?
Quality of Denver Broncos Draft: I understand that Elway has final say on which players are ultimately chosen, and that Fox's input on who he wants to coach is integral to the process, but the buffet that gets laid out before them, the quality of the scouting reports, the depth of the big board, the rankings, that all starts with X. So if you feel that the draft came off without a hitch, or that the right players made it into blue and orange, than some of that credit goes Xander's way.
- Draft Day Trades and movement: After starting the draft with 7 picks including a tremendous drought through the talented midsection of the draft, Denver ended with 9 new players, and avoided the 4th round drought (though they did substitute a 57 pick drought in the 5th and 6th rounds). Targeting Rahim Moore in the 2nd round, Denver traded away their first 2nd round selection to San Francisco for a 2nd, 4th and 5th round pick, and still managed to nab Moore. Later in the draft, Denver moved up to select TE Julius Thomas, by trading a 5th and 6th to Green Bay for a 4th and 7th. By that point Denver had nabbed 6 of the top 129 players in the draft. If you think that a team can just stumble into that kind of draft loot, you are wrong. It takes a solid treasure map, and last I checked, X marks the spot.
- Getting Champ Bailey to finish his career as a Bronco: Elway may have loathed the idea of Champ ever leaving the Broncos, and Fox may have been catatonic imagining Champ lining up in his defense, but Xander's said the magic words that made it happen. Champ's contract starts out by calling him a franchise player, which Champ had to hear: $15 million guaranteed. Over the first two seasons Champ will haul in $24.5million total, but there are protections built in that could save Denver $10.5million if the unthinkable happens between now and March of 2012. And the back half of the deal? $9mil per year, the kind of money a high quality safety can expect. You think that contract should be a feather in X's cap?
- The awesomest profile photo on DB.com: You think I'm kidding but I am soooo not. What I like to do is hold my thumb up over his left eye (to my right...I clarify because this doesn't work if you do it backwards), and I ask him, "So, Mr.X what exactly is it you do for the Broncos?" Then I quickly move my thumb and cover up his other eye and have him say back to me, "Wouldn't you like to know, ya little bastard." Like I said, awesome.
Not a lot to go on, but throw your vote in here anyways. We'll have this guy figured out before too long, count on it.