George Paton, a 26-year personnel executive with a wealth of NFL experience overseeing year-round personnel transactions, enters his second season as general manager of the Denver Broncos. He was hired on Jan. 13, 2021.
Following his first season with the team, Paton (pronounced: Peyton), along with the football personnel department, was awarded the Best Draft Award during the 13th annual Inside the League Combine Seminar. The Broncos became the fifth team—and second AFC club—to garner the distinction since its inception in 2017.
With his first two draft selections as general manager, Paton selected CB Pat Surtain II (Rd. 1, Pick 9) and RB Javonte Williams (Rd. 2, Pick 35). In addition to winning NFL Rookie of the Week honors in Week 9 and 14, respectively, both Surtain and Williams were named to the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) All-Rookie Team following their inaugural campaigns.
Prior to the Broncos, Paton most recently served as Minnesota's Vice President of Player Personnel/Assistant General Manager. During his 14 seasons with the Vikings, he worked directly with General Manager Rick Spielman on all salary cap and player acquisition decisions in addition to helping establish the team's analytics department.
Paton earned two formal promotions with the Vikings, holding titles of Director of Player Personnel (2007-11) and Assistant General Manager (2012-20) before adding the Vice President of Player Personnel role in 2018. Prior to joining Minnesota, he spent six seasons as Director of Pro Personnel with Miami (2001-06), working with Head Coach Nick Saban during his final two years with the team.
Paton started his NFL career with Chicago in 1997 as a scouting assistant, ascending to Pro Scout from 1998-99 and Assistant Director of Pro Personnel from 2000-01 before joining Spielman in Miami.
In Paton's 14 seasons with Minnesota (2007-20), the Vikings made six playoff appearances—with six different starting quarterbacks—while winning four division titles and advancing to a pair of NFC Championship Games. He played a key role in the Vikings' acquisition of 22 Pro Bowlers through the draft (15), college free agency (2), veteran free agency (4) and trade (1) during his time in Minnesota.
No team selected more future Pro Bowlers (13) than the Vikings from 2011-20. Those acquisitions included wide receiver Justin Jefferson (2020), running back Dalvin Cook (2017), defensive end Danielle Hunter (2015), wide receiver Stefon Diggs (2015), linebacker Anthony Barr (2014), cornerback Xavier Rhodes (2013) and safety Harrison Smith (2012).
Of the 15 first-round selections by the Vikings during Paton's involvement with the team's draft (2008-20), four rookies were chosen to the Pro Bowl—including Offensive Rookie of the Year Percy Harvin in 2009—while 14 players became primary starters in their initial seasons. The Vikings made 26 first-, second- or third-round draft picks from 2012-2020 with an NFC-best 92.3% of those players still playing in the NFL in 2020.
Paton has also displayed an ability to find impact players such as Cook (2nd round- 2017), linebacker Eric Kendricks (2nd round – 2015), Hunter (3rd round – 2015), wide receiver Adam Thielen (CFA- 2013), tight end Kyle Rudolph (2nd round – 2011) and defensive end Everson Griffen (4th round- 2010) outside of the first round.
Coming off the second-best record in the NFC (50-29-1, .631) from 2015-2019, the Vikings retooled their roster in 2020 and used 15 selections—an NFL record for a seven-round draft. Minnesota's draft haul included Jefferson, who was the only offensive rookie Pro Bowler this year after setting the NFL single-season rookie record for receiving yards (1,400). Jefferson was selected 22nd overall and with one of four picks that were acquired from Buffalo in an offseason trade for Diggs.
In the five seasons preceding 2020, Minnesota earned three playoff appearances (2015, '17 & '19) and made the 2017 NFC Championship Game. Paton helped build three playoff teams during that span quarterbacked by Bridgewater (2015), Sam Bradford/Case Keenum (2017) and Kirk Cousins (2019).
Following a berth in the NFC Championship and a 13-win season in 2017, Minnesota was aggressive in signing unrestricted free-agent Cousins to a three-year contract. He was named to the Pro Bowl during his second season with the team in 2019 and is the league's seventh-rated passer (103.6 rtg.) during the last three seasons.
Bridgewater, who was selected with the last pick of the first-round in the 2014 NFL Draft, led the Vikings to the postseason with an NFC North title and an 11-5 regular-season record in 2015. He would suffer a career-threatening knee injury during training camp in 2016, leading to Minnesota's front office trading for Bradford during training camp.
In 2012, the Vikings made their first of four playoffs appearances in the decade behind second-year quarterback Christian Ponder. Paton was also instrumental in the building of back-to-back NFC North champions in 2008 and '09 as the Vikings won the second-most games (22) in the NFL during that span.
Quarterback Brett Favre, who was signed as a street free agent and chosen to his 11th career Pro Bowl in 2009, piloted the team to a 12-4 record and a spot in the NFC Championship Game. In 2008, Paton assisted in trading for defensive end Jared Allen, who would go on to make four Pro Bowls with the Vikings. Quarterbacks Gus Frerotte and Tarvaris Jackson split time as starters as the club would win 10 games that season.
Paton was a four-year letter winner as a defensive back at UCLA from 1988-91 before playing professionally in Italy and Austria. He began his career as head coach of the sophomore football team at his alma mater Loyola High School in Los Angeles.
Paton, 51, and his wife, Barbara, have two children: Bella and Beau.