In a lengthy, 20 minute interview with 104.3 The Fan, Xanders talked about several issues, including the Denver Broncos scouting department.
He noted that the system has really only been installed for one year, ever since Matt Russell joined the team from the New England Patriots front office in 2010, but that the system had its roots in Parcell's personal method for scouting and drafting.
This system, which relies on extremely detail oriented reports on not only the players but the positions and responsibilities required of the head coach's scheme, has been working quietly in the background here in Denver for the last year and a half, and preceded Belicheck in New England, going back twenty years to Bill Parcells. Besides New England and Denver, Atlanta and Kansas City are the only other teams to be utilizing it. Because of its focus on details, ranging from specific heights and weights for a particular responsibility, to attitude matchups with position coaches, it tends to foreshorten any draft board it produces, resulting in fewer and more valuable names.
In 2009 the Broncos watched an incomplete and amateur effort turn up all manner of head-scratchers and oddities, but in 2010, with the actual system in place and with an experienced professional's oversight, the process seemed to have calmed down significantly, with most of the excitement revolving around the moves that targeted the names on the shortlist, not the names themselves.
Xanders' definitely believes that the group drafted in 2010 is exemplary of the system going forward. He referred to Demaryius Thomas as "going to be a star in this league, he's a stud," noted that the jury was out on Tebow, and tallied up 43 starts from other rookies, including J.D Walton, Zane Beadles and Perrish Cox. He also reminded us of Syd'Quan thompson's critical role in nickle situations throughout the year, and reiterated his belief in Eric Decker.
He also mentioned:
- The system does NOT preclude questionable or borderline character concerns in talented players. He mentioned Perrish Cox in that light, noting that in the 5th round, the value simply exceeded the concerns (ostensibly the money risk, since Cox graded out as a 1st or 2nd rounder for the Broncos). However he also noted that Fox would likely understand and support just such moves, pointing to Greg Hardy out of Mississippi, who ended up occupying a speed rusher responsibility for the Panthers after sliding to the 6th round.
- He specifically noted, when asked whether they would continue to use the system, that they were committed to it but that they were customizing it. "We're going to stick with it, but customize it to the John Fox 4-3." He again pointed out how they wanted to create very specific profiles for how every position was going to look, to help them target exactly the right fit in the draft.
While Xanders clearly sees the scouting system through orange colored glasses, it is obviously not the only type of system that works, as both the Packer's and Steelers have shown here in 2010, with their extremely deep and talented rosters. Perhaps the most scathing criticism that could be levied against the system is that it is intolerant to change, and that it forces teams to ignore legitimate talents who don't happen to be a perfect scheme fit. With so many teams spending so much time in subpackages, it stands to reason that scheme is really becoming a secondary concern to the ability of a coach to adapt to the skills of his players, since the name of the game is talent mismatches.
We have already heard from Fox that he will put a lot of value on working to the strengths of every player, but will he have a scouting department that can support him in that vision?