ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — In his first interview since being announced as the Broncos' next general manager, George Paton explained why this position was one he couldn't turn down and a basic overview for his vision leading the team's personnel department.
A major piece of his motivation and excitement stems from the collection of young talent on the roster.
"[T]hey do have a good core of young players," he told DenverBroncos.com's Phil Milani. "Their record doesn't reflect that because they had so many injuries, but I do think they have a good core of young players that, with this coaching staff, will keep getting better. … On the tape I evaluated, I do think it's a roster that can develop quickly."
Paton and his staff will aim to further that development in the coming months in free agency and the upcoming draft to add more talent and best prepare the roster to make a jump back into contention for the playoffs. In particular, Paton said, the draft would be vital.
"It's about the people, first of all — the players, the people you bring in your organization," Paton said. "And then you have to draft and you have to develop. You have to draft and develop talent in this league to win and sustain. I think that's our philosophy. Now, we're going to be aggressive. We're going to acquire talent any way we can, whether it's free agency, practice squad poaches, waiver claims — we're always going to look for talent. But drafting and developing will be our philosophy."
Overall, as Paton said in his initial statement, he emphasizes a strategy of being "aggressive—but not reckless" in talent acquisition.
"I just think you have to know where you are as a team," Paton said. "And that's really important before you can move forward; you really have to know where you are as a team, and that in turn determines your aggressiveness. But I think you're involved in every deal that's out there. And then you can discuss and collaborate and just determine if you want to make that jump. But it's really important to be involved with everything so you don't miss a deal that may get by you. So, we'll be aggressive [and] involved; it doesn't mean we're going to always jump."
During his time in Minnesota, George Paton helped the Vikings draft, sign or trade for 22 Pro Bowl players.
If all that comes to fruition, Paton's plan for the Broncos will return the franchise to the standard Broncos Country expects, which was a major factor in Paton's decision to join the Broncos.
"It's an iconic franchise with a winning tradition," Paton said. "We've played there over the years and the fan base is incredible. It's a rabid fan base and they love football. … Throughout the interview process, which was first-class, I really felt a connection with everyone I met with, whether it was [Vice President of Strategic Initiatives] Brittany [Bowlen] or [President of Football Operations] John Elway, [Head Coach] Vic Fangio, you name it. I really felt connected. I felt we had a shared vision on how we're going to build this thing, and John Elway is going to hand you the baton — what's a greater honor than to take the baton from John Elway? Really, really excited."
Moving forward, Paton will work closely with Fangio in building the roster. In the interview process, the two got to know each other better, but as former NFC North foes, Paton already had a basic knowledge of Fangio as a coach.
"Unfortunately, in Minnesota, I had to go against Vic Fangio's defense quite a bit in Chicago," Paton said. "So I always had a great respect for him. We have a lot of shared friends, so I knew a lot about Vic. But just sitting down and talking football and talking about where he came from, where I came from, I thought, again, we had a shared vision. I really respect Vic as a human being and as a football coach. I really look forward to being aligned with him and working with him down the road."
As he and his family prepare to move to Denver, Paton explained the overall sense of excitement that they have. In addition to Paton having a great opportunity to lead one of the NFL's most historic franchises, there's more that they're eager about.
"The whole family's fired up, I'm fired up," Paton said. "We can't wait to get rolling."