With the NFL Combine under way, the three-headed monster of the Denver Broncos front office is hard at work. Head Coach John Fox, General Manager Brian Xanders and Vice President of Player Operations John Elway have been in Indianapolis since Thursday, continuing the process of evaluating players for the 2011 NFL Draft. One member of this tremendous trio is new to the process, but is no stranger to Broncos football.
Though John Elway is a familiar name in the NFL, he is a rookie of sorts when it comes to his new duties. Elway has been learning his new job on the fly since being named the Executive Vice President of Player Operations on January 5th of this year. It is no big surprise that he is picking up his new duties very quickly.
“He’s very smart,” Xanders said. “He listens. Like he says, he knows what he doesn’t know and he asks very tough questions. I’ll say this too, being a player in this league for 16 years, he knows what he wants that locker room to look like.”
Despite the fact that he is leaning on others to make his transition into the front office as smooth as possible, Elway lends unique talents that most VP’s are not able to boast. Playing quarterback for the Denver Broncos for 16 years and leading them to five Super Bowls, he knows a thing or two about what kind of players you want on your team.
“I look at a lot of guys probably a little bit different,” Elway said from the combine. “I look at it as if I were playing against them. I know what I liked to play against, and I know what I didn’t like.”
Besides his time playing in the NFL, Elway had another part of his life that gives him a unique insight into the NFL drafting process, his father. It will be 10 years this April since Elway’s father Jack passed away. Now John finds himself calling on the years of experience of his father to help him evaluate players for his first draft. Besides being John Elway’s inspiration, Jack Elway was a longtime head coach as well as the Broncos’ former scouting director.
Elway remembers sitting in with his father during many evaluation processes and he will look to apply what he learned for this upcoming draft.
“I’d ask him, ‘What’d you see?’ … The competitiveness, that’s what I remember him saying … that’s what you’re searching for, players who believe football is important to them, who compete, who fight through tough times. Beyond talent, height, weight and speed, that’s what it takes.”
Armed with all of the tools it takes to successfully transition from a player to the front office, Elway finds himself transitioning from a legendary player to trying to find the next legend and there is no reason to believe that he will not succeed.
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