When I heard the news that George Paton would be the next GM of the Denver Broncos, I thought two things: at last, as it seems Paton has become the designated interviewee for nearly every GM vacancy the last 5-6 years; and, who really is this guy? I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Paton, so I wanted to learn a little about him.
Turns out I wasn’t the only one wondering. Try Googling his name and you pretty much get two things: he was a walk-on at UCLA, and he’s spent over a decade with the Vikings. Fat lot of good that did me. However, I had an advantage. I have a lot of people I know who know him well, so I asked them to give me a few thoughts on the Broncos’ new chief.
The following comments are what I got, mostly from friends and people who’ve known him longest. Are they glowing? Yes. Are they from his friends? Again, yes. Still, there were a few things I took away from the comments. But first, check them out.
- “He’s awesome. He’s amazing. Doesn’t do interviews, not a self-promoter, media trying to do interviews but they can’t get anything because he’s not out there shoving himself in front of cameras. He’s everything you’d want out in front of your org. Strong evaluator, great with people, likeable, good chemistry guy, checks every box.”
- “He’s really smart, organized and not only works hard, but works smart. He has earned everything he’s got. He will listen to all voices and then make a decision. Most of all he’s a great person. No ego. Big loss for us. He has zero ‘look at me’ to him.”
- “I’m a big fan of George Paton. George has a great football mind, he’s a terrific communicator, and I think he’s been the unsung hero for the Vikings for many years. Runs the draft, runs free agency, communicates well with agents. College scouting, pro scouting, cap, he does contracts. I think the Broncos hired the best guy in the marketplace. I mean, Nick Saban likes George Paton. He’s really good.”
- “George combines great player knowledge, experience and the ability to lead and communicate in the building. He is both highly respected and liked by staffs he’s been around and his peers.”
- “As good of an evaluator as we had in the building, smart, detailed, prepared. He’s been ready! Denver’s lucky to get him.”
So, like I said, very positive comments from several people in the game. What I took away from them, though, is that Paton seems to be the kind of communicator today’s game demands. As we see fewer dictatorial, Bill Polian-style general managers and more work-with-the-head-coach-who’s-the-true-face-of-the-franchise types, Paton is probably a perfect fit. That’s a good thing as he’s got a question mark under center, his best defensive player is 31 and coming off a season lost to injury, and he has to play the Chiefs twice each season.
He also seems to be a great evaluator, which as a fan of veteran scouts who pay their dues, I greatly admire. It’s interesting that the Vikes had to go “outside the building” to get their QB after mixed results on Teddy Bridgewater and Christian Ponder. Probably Paton’s first big test will be determining if Drew Lock gets the benefit of the doubt.
At any rate, it will be fun to watch. I’ll discuss the Broncos’ move as well as the seats of power that are yet to be filled in tomorrow’s The State of Football with former NFL scout David Turner and several other great guests. It kicks off at 9 a.m. ET here. I hope you can tune in.