Allen Park, Mich.—The Detroit Lions announced today that they have hired Brian Xanders as Senior Personnel Executive.
Xanders joins the Lions following a five-year stint with the Denver Broncos, including the last four seasons as the Broncos general manager. This season marks his 20th season in the NFL that includes him serving in a variety of player personnel, football operations and coaching roles while with the Broncos and Atlanta Falcons.
“As I indicated following the season, we are re-evaluating all aspects of our football operation,” said Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Martin Mayhew. “As part of process, we are thrilled to announce the hiring of Brian Xanders who has a wealth of experience that will benefit our organization.
“Brian’s addition, given his diverse background, positively impacts all aspects of our team’s football operations. He brings experience as a general manager and has worked in both pro and college scouting. In addition to his personnel background, he has experience in contract negotiations and expertise in the development and use of technological resources in player personnel.
“Brian will effectively improve on the structure we have in place and will add another set of eyes to the evaluation process.”
At the time of his promotion in 2009, Xanders was the youngest general manager in the NFL at the age of 37.
During his tenure as the Broncos general manager, Denver claimed the 2011 NFC West Division title. From 2009-11, the Broncos acquired 25 players through the draft and free agency that ended the 2011 season on the active or reserve roster. Denver became only the third team since the 1970 NFL merger to win its division and a playoff game with a new head coach following four or fewer wins the previous season.
In 2011, with the assistance of the college scouting and pro personnel departments, Xanders navigated the 2011 offseason that lacked organized team activities and acquired 19 newcomers that made the opening-day roster and helped Denver capture its first AFC West Division title in six seasons. Two of those newcomers—running back Willis McGahee and linebacker Von Miller—made the Pro Bowl, making Denver the only team in the NFL in 2011 to have a free agent acquisition and a draft choice make the league’s annual All-Star Game.
Nine rookies saw playing time for the Broncos in 2011, including seven individuals that started at least one game. Miller was named AP Defensive Rookie of the Year and made the Pro Bowl after tying the franchise rookie sack record (11.5), and right tackle Orlando Franklin opened all 16 regular-season games and two playoff contests for the club.
The Broncos also signed several players through free agency in 2011, including regular starters in McGahee and tight end Daniel Fells. McGahee rushed for 1,199 yards and tied for the NFL lead with seven individual 100-yard rushing games in 2011. Defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley, who was acquired via trade, solidified Denver’s interior and helped the Broncos improve in nearly every defensive statistical category from 2010.
During his tenure in Denver, he also supervised the day-to-day operations of the Broncos’ equipment, medical, video, football systems and turf operations departments. He was originally hired by Denver as assistant general manager in 2008.
Before the Broncos hired him in 2008, he worked 14 seasons (1994-2007) with the Atlanta Falcons. Xanders served as director of football administration/ player personnel analyst (2006-07), director of football administration/ salary cap analyst (2002-05), director of football systems/ player personnel (2000-01), quality control – defense (1997-99) and systems information (1994-96).
Xanders was a member of the Falcons’ defensive coaching staff on their 1998 team that became the first in franchise history to earn a Super Bowl berth (XXXIII). Selected by the Falcons to attend Stanford University’s NFL Program for Managers in 2005, he has given speeches at several universities on NFL player personnel issues.
During his previous 19 NFL seasons, Xanders has worked with 11 different head coaches, including Dan Reeves, Wade Phillips, Jim Mora, Mike Smith, Mike Shanahan and John Fox. He also trained under several different player personnel executives such as Ron Hill, Bobby Beathard, Rich McKay, Tim Ruskell, Billy Devaney, Phil Emery and Thomas Dimitroff.
A former middle linebacker who played for Bobby Bowden at Florida State University from 1989-92, Xanders was a member of four bowl-winning teams with the Seminoles that had a 42-7 combined record. He was an All-Atlantic Coast Conference academic team selection and graduated from FSU with a master’s degree in business administration and a bachelor’s degree in business management.