Denver Broncos: Scouting Combine insight from Matt Russell

Denver Broncos GM search continues. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Denver Broncos GM search continues. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

What kind of stock do the Denver Broncos put into the spectacle that is the NFL Scouting Combine? Matt Russell gives a behind-the-scenes look.

Although John Elway gets pretty much all of the credit — or blame — for the way the Denver Broncos are constructed, he has plenty of help in the scouting department and front office.

One of Elway’s most trusted guys in the front office is Matt Russell, the Broncos’ Director of Player Personnel.

Russell, once a big time linebacker for the Colorado Buffaloes who was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the fourth round of the 1997 NFL Draft, has been working in the NFL as a scout or executive since 2001 when he broke into the business with the New England Patriots as a scout.

When the Broncos brought in Josh McDaniels from the Patriots as head coach in 2009, they also brought in Russell whose history with McDaniels was undoubtedly a factor in his coming to Denver. He joined the Broncos in 2009 as the Director of College Scouting. In 2012, he took a new role as Director of Player Personnel and he’s been right there with John Elway through some of the best years of building the Denver Broncos.

Russell doesn’t often get the spotlight, but he did give the Denver Broncos’ media team a behind-the-scenes look at the team’s setup for the 2020 Scouting Combine.

Russell had an interesting comment in that behind-the-scenes look about what the Combine means for the Broncos when it comes down to it.

He was talking about if they’re watching a cornerback workout and he runs a 4.4 or a 4.5 in the 40-yard dash, that it’s good, but if he runs a 4.8, that might be cause for concern.

Obviously, the tape is the most influential piece of a player’s evaluation, but according to Russell, the Broncos use these workouts to rule guys out or potentially even bring some back into the fold.

That means that if the Broncos didn’t necessarily love a prospect on tape, a great Combine workout could prompt them to go back and watch some more of that player’s film to see if their athleticism matched what they put on tape, or if there were other circumstances and factors that played in.

It also means that if a player has a really bad Combine workout, it could very well keep that player off the Broncos’ board.

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The Broncos aren’t always taking the most outstanding Combine workout warriors, but it’s clear they have valued this part of the process more with guys in recent years. Russell’s comments speak to that.