Denver Broncos: George Paton quickly proving to be a great hire

Denver Broncos GM John Elway Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos GM John Elway Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

Could this be premature? Yeah, it sure can be, but after a couple of short months on the job, I believe hiring George Paton will soon prove to be the best thing John Elway did for the Denver Broncos (aside from the Lombardis).

Here’s why.

George Paton has taken a long and deliberate road to get to this point. His career started in Chicago, where he was a Scouting Intern for the Bears. He then spent the 1998-1999 seasons as a Pro Scout and quickly became the Bears Assistant Director of Player Personnel in 2000.

In the 2001-2006 seasons, Paton was the Director of Pro Personnel for the Miami Dolphins and started the 2007 season as Director of Player Personnel for the Minnesota Vikings.

He remained with the Vikings for 14 years in an executive position, before landing with the Broncos as the new General Manager.

What sticks out to me about Paton, and what should excite you, goes deeper than just what his Wikipedia page says.

The first thing that sticks out to me is how he went from a low-level scouting intern to a pro personnel director in just four years. To put this in perspective, in 2001, Paton prepared a 35-page scouting report ahead of the Dolphins season opener against the Titans.

For those of us who may not understand the personnel side of the NFL, this may not read impressively, but I’d encourage all of you to open a Word document, set it to 12pt. font double-spaced, and see how long it takes you to fill 35 pages of information.

And that was just one game.

To further flaunt Paton’s diligence, he, along with Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman, acquired 22 Pro Bowl players, with a whopping 15 of them coming from the NFL Draft.

Of those 15 players that Paton helped acquire, they have a combined 33 Pro Bowls.

And what might be the most telling aspect of Paton’s career thus far, is how many General Manager positions he has interviewed for before coming to Denver.

What we know is Paton has been considered for at least 12 General Manager positions over the years, which is 37.5% of the league.

What we usually see from soon-to-be General Managers is how quickly they take advantage of the opportunity. What I mean by that is we see them take these positions as early as they can get an interview.

Recent General Manager hires like Terry Fontenot, Brad Holmes, Joe Douglas, and Trent Baalke took a much quicker road to their GM positions. This isn’t to say that they aren’t qualified, but this specific group of men jumped at the opportunity, and none of them were being considered as frequently as George Paton.

Paton’s hire soon received national praise, with Charles Robinson, a Senior NFL Reporter from Yahoo! giving Paton and the Broncos deserved praise.

Robinson likened Paton’s patience to that of Colts GM Chris Ballard, who is widely regarded as one of the better GMs in the NFL.

What should also excite Denver Broncos fans is how many opportunities Paton passed up before picking Denver.  Why would a 50-year-old father uproot his family from Minnesota, relocate to Denver if not for good reason?

Paton elaborated on reasons for taking the position, calling the Broncos a ‘sleeping giant,’ among other things.

During his introductory presser, Paton harped on the importance of building teams from the inside out, both figuratively and literally. Specifically, Paton believed that part of a healthy team culture was drafting and retaining the team’s own players.

That could have been GM talk, but Paton kept his word. He exercised the option for Von Miller and brought back ‘Best Hands in the League’ Shelby Harris and NFL Ironman Justin Simmons. Not only that, there were substantive reports that the team was going to target multiple cornerbacks in free agency.

Like clockwork, those reports were accurate, as the Denver Broncos signed Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller, filling the team’s biggest need.

Just a few short months on the job and George Paton has kept his word — all of it.

As much as I appreciated John Elway, he had a tendency to let players test free agency, often watching them sign with other teams. Recently, we saw defensive cornerstones Derek Wolfe and Chris Harris Jr. both leave.

While it may have been smart in the long run, letting your better players test free agency hurts the team culture.

It festers within the locker room, as players begin to think that even if they ‘ball out’ for this team, they still won’t be taken care of, being just another player who played out his rookie deal, only to get paid from another team.

George Paton keeping his word and bringing back three defensive cornerstone pieces only helps the team culture, which can then help overall team chemistry.

If Paton was able to get deals done with Justin Simmons and Shelby Harris, who’s to say he can’t get long-term deals done with Courtland Sutton, Bradley Chubb, Dalton Risner, and others?

Between Paton’s draft success with the Vikings, his diligence as a scout, and his deliberate willingness to take the GM position that’s right for him, I do believe that in five years, the hire of George Paton will prove to be the best thing John Elway and Co. ever did for the Denver Broncos.

The Denver Broncos’ long history of success in the 80s, part of the 90s, and into the 2000s will come to light again, as General Paton hopes to lead the Broncos army into battle and out victorious.