The power structure of an NFL team is a very intricate composition that many of the franchises currently struggle maintaining. The following is a ranking of the 32 executives at the top in numbered order.
1. Ted Thompson, Green Bay Packers - The man’s general manager tree alone (Technically a branch of the Ron Wolfe tree) puts Thompson on top of the mountain but the Thompson's dedication to his craft and work earns him the number one spot. This last draft netted instant contributors like Datone Jones in the first round, Eddie Lacy in the second round and David Bakhtiari in the fourth round. With one of the best quarterbacks in the league, the Packers should stay on top for he next few years.
2. John Schneider, Seattle Seahawks - It is hard to argue with the Super Bowl winning general manager with all the home runs he has hit in free agency and throughout the draft. The man who endorsed Russell Wilson, built the league’s best secondary and pulled the trigger on the Marshawn Lynch deal is one of the best in the business. He has one of the youngest and most productive rosters in the league with even more Super Bowls in the future.
3. John Elway, Denver Broncos - One of the best football players ever has done an outstanding job transitioning into one of the best executives in the league. Obviously the Peyton Manning deal paid off in spades but the decisions to draft Derek Wolfe and Von Miller in 2012 as well as drafting Orlando Franklin in the fourth round, Julius Thomas in the sixth round in 2011 were clear cut hits.
4. Ozzie Newsome, Baltimore Ravens - Newsome is the king of all GMs with his experience as a player and the vast knowledge that he has accrued during all of his years calling the shots for Baltimore. One of the best qualities of Newsome is that he knows everybody in the league and working out a trade or setting up a deal with any of the other 31 NFL teams is just a matter of a simple phone call.
5. Bill Belichick, New England Patriots - The evil emperor and his hoodie are still on top of this list because of their sustained success and their big successes in free agency. Aqib Talib was a gamble but it paid off in a huge way for them, as did their decision to draft instant impact type rookies like Chandler Jones, Donta’ Hightower and Nate Solder who have been key additions.
6. Trent Baalke, San Francisco 49ers - The 49ers are one of the few teams in the NFL with very few roster needs, as they feature a ton of depth and youth at very crucial positions like quarterback, runningback, offensive line and linebacker. They were gifted a 2nd round pick by the Chiefs in exchange for Alex Smith and they have a number of players waiting in the wings to contribute, making the 49ers a force to contend with for years to come.
7. Jerry Reese, New York Giants - A two-time super bowl champion, Jerry Reese has some of the best credentials of any general manager in the league. From orchestrating the trade that netted them Eli Manning to finding Victor Cruz out of UMass as an undrafted free agent, Reese is easily one of the elite executives in the NFL and regardless of the team experiencing a down year last season, he is still clearly among the best.
8. Rick Smith, Houston Texans - While Houston was one of the worst teams in the league last season, the blame can’t be placed solely on the general manager, as he has built a winner and constructed a strong foundation. Smith drafted the former defensive player of the year (JJ Watt) with the 11th pick in 2011 and he found one of the greatest undrafted runningbacks of all time in Arian Foster, because of Smith the future is very bright in Houston.
9. Kevin Colbert, Pittsburgh Steelers - Colbert is one of the executives in this league that is completely in tune with the frequency and pitch of the NFL. Injuries have been the only thing to derail their recent draft picks but they have still received contributions from them. Their only real gaffs have been drafting Mike Adams and Chris Rainey last year but when prospects like David DeCastro, Le’Veon Bell and Markus Wheaton all missing time early in their careers, you can’t help but think the organization is a little snake bitten.
10. Howie Roseman, Philadelphia Eagles - Howie Roseman was charged with the daunting task of replacing one of the most successful coaches in Eagles history after the release of Andy Reid and it certainly appears that he has landed a great coach with Chip Kelly who took Philly to the playoffs in just his first season. Meanwhile the roster now features one of the best offensive lines in football and one of the most potent offenses in the league.
11. Phil Emery, Chicago Bears - The Bears may not have qualified for the playoffs but they have still drafted well and they are poised to make a run at the division title next season with tons of offensive playmakers and a very talented young offensive line with rookies Kyle Long (1st rd) and Jordan Mills (5th rd) starting in all sixteen games. They did re-sign Jay Cutler to a multi-year contract and will have to convince Julius Peppers to take a pay cut but things are looking up in Chicago.
12. Thomas Dimitroff, Atlanta Falcons - The Falcons took a terrible tumble down the rankings with terrible offensive line play and a breakout of injuries that took out Julio Jones for the year at the midway point and slowed Roddy White down for the whole year. The team has made some decent draft picks with talents like Marcus Trufant and Robert Alford coming in last year but outside of Julio Jones, the team hasn’t drafted a star level player since Sean Weatherspoon in 2010.
13. Ryan Grigson, Indianapolis Colts - Grigson made a big splash when he drafted Andrew Luck and the Colts went to the playoffs in his rookie season but last season was a let down considering the change in offensive scheme under new conservative coordinator Pep Hamilton and the trade that sent a future first round pick to Cleveland in exchange for Trent Richardson. In Richardson/Grigson’s defense, picking up a brand new system midway through a season is no small task and the verdict is still out on whether or not that trade was a win but I’m still betting on Grigson coming out looking great.
14. Mickey Loomis, New Orleans Saints - The Saints have one of the best quarterbacks in the league but Loomis has done an excellent job of surrounding Drew Brees with talented playmakers like Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles. Meanwhile, the defense has transitioned to a very effective 3-4 option as of late under coordinator Rob Ryan that features standouts like Kenny Vaccaro, Akiem Hicks and Cameron Jordan.
15. John Dorsey, Kansas City Chiefs - The Chiefs said goodbye to the Scott Pioli “Patriots West” idea and sent Romeo Crennel packing along the way to give John Dorsey, another Ted Thompson disciple. Dorsey started out by acquiring eventual starters in linebacker Akeem Jordan, defensive end Mike DeVito, guard Geoff Schwartz who all contributed in a major way this season.
16. Les Snead, St Louis Rams - Snead made a huge splash in his 1st season as GM with the trade that sent the #2 pick (Robert Griffin III) to Washington in exchange for three first round draft choices and while the Rams were chastised for the trade at the time, St. Louis actually has done very well with the picks. Washington has struggled with an injured RGIII and the Rams have drafted Robert Quinn, Michael Brockers, Alec Ogletree and Tavon Austin in the first rounds of the last three drafts since.
17. Steve Keim, Arizona Cardinals - The Carson Palmer acquisition has to be looked at as a success considering how well he played in stretches and the fact that he was able to stay healthy for 16 games, something he hasn’t been able to do since he was in Cincinnati. In addition to fixing the quarterback room, Keim also hit on late round steals like Andre Ellington in the 6th round and the decision to select Tyrann Mathieu in the 3rd was possibly the best gamble in last year’s draft.
18. Tom Telesco, San Diego Chargers - All things considered, it certainly doesn’t hurt to inherit a franchise QB like Philip Rivers in your first year on the job. Telesco had an extremely successful first draft by letting talent fall into his lap and recognizing value in every round. DJ Fluker started every game at right tackle, Manti T’eo looks to be a star on their defense and third rounder Keenan Allen emerged as a go-to option for Rivers and looks to be a star going forward.
19. Rick Spielman, Minnesota Vikings - Spielman has done a commendable job reworking the Vikings’ roster but they still aren’t winning enough games to make the difference. While last year’s draft can be considered a success with three 1st rounders in Sharrif Floyd, Cordarrelle Patterson and Xhavier Rhodes, the trades that allowed them to acquire those players were costly so the verdict is still out on Spielman.
20. Reggie McKenzie, Oakland Raiders - McKenzie has not drafted that well but it’s not like he was gifted with a great situation in the first place without a first round pick in his first season (due to the Carson Palmer trade) and being granted control of the island of misfit toys that is Oakland’s roster. However this is hope, McKenzie’s last draft netted the team DJ Hayden, Menelik Watson and Sio Moore who should all be prominent players in years to come.
21. Mike Brown, Cincinnati Bengals - Brown has been steering the ship in CIncinnati since 1991 and has had only 5 winning seasons in all of those 23 years. Still, the team has an extremely talented roster featuring offensive playmakers like AJ Green, Giovani Bernard and Tyler Eifert to go along with defensive stalwarts like Geno Atkins, Vontaze Burfict and Carlos Dunlap. They should return to the playoffs next season as well.
22. Dave Gettleman, Carolina Panthers - In all fairness, Gettleman inherited a decent situation with a young franchise passer and a very good head coach already in place but he definitely has done his due diligence in surrounding Cam Newton with talent. He has also revamped a defense that now includes playmakers like Luke Kuechly and Star Lotulelei to build around.
23. Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys - No owner has hurt his own franchise more than Jerry Jones over the years but to be fair, the Jones 'brain trust” has improved their drafting prowess the past few seasons with quality players making instant contributions like Tyron Smith, DeMarco Murray, Travis Frederick and Terrence Williams. The biggest issue is the lack of secondary talent and while the team has tried to address the problem, it still remains a looming cause for concern entering 2014.
24. Martin Mayhew, Detroit Lions - While the team appears to have hit on players like Ziggy Ansah and Larry Warford, the decision to select a raw player like Darius Slay in the second round with their needs in the defensive backfield was anything but prudent. Mayhew fired Jim Schwartz and went with Jim Caldwell in the hopes to get the best out of Matt Stafford but if the move doesn’t pan out, the always patient Ford family might decide to move on.
25. Doug Whaley, Buffalo Bills - The Bills got away with murder getting Robert Woods in the third round and with how well he performed, he could eventually be the go-to option in this offense for fellow rookie EJ Manuel who looks to be the answer behind center if he can manage to stay healthy for 16 games. They gambled on Kiko Alonso in the second round and it clearly paid off as he ended up being the defensive rookie of the year.
26. John Idzik, New York Jets - Idzik just finished his first season as the general manager and even though the early results have not been favorable in the win column, the roster is shaping up to be very strong with the additions of Sheldon Richardson, Dee Milliner and Geno Smith. The decision to retain Rex Ryan will make or break Ryan and the Jets which is why it was only a one year deal.
27. David Caldwell, Jacksonville Jaguars - Caldwell’s first order of business was to hire a new coach and while the Jaguars didn’t start the season well, they finished strong and appear to have a keeper in Gus Bradley. The selections of Luke Joeckel, John Cyprien, Dwayne Gratz and Ace Sanders were all hits considering how much they played and with another strong draft class, Jacksonville could be a much better roster from top to bottom.
28. Ruston Webster, Tennessee Titans - Tennessee and Webster were faced with the tough task of letting Mike Munchak go, a lifetime employee of the franchise, and replacing him with Ken Whisenhunt. How Whisenhunt will pan out remains a mystery but the draft picks in the last two seasons haven’t been poor with a very strong class that features Chance Warmack, Justin Hunter, Zaviar Gooden and Brian Schwenke who all look to be fixtures on the roster going forward.
29. Bruce Allen, Washington Redskins - The Redskins made the deal to send three 1st rounders to the Rams for the rights to draft Robert Griffin and that decision is a big part of this ranking considering how poorly the team finished this season. While they didn’t have a first rounder this season, they didn’t really hit on any of their other seven picks with the lone exception being Jordan Reed who saw some success with Fred Davis out of the lineup again.
30. Jason Licht, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Licht can’t be blamed for last year’s record and also can’t receive any credit for the current roster. The team is not in bad shape, considering the offensive playmakers already in position and the defense features a ton of talent with guys like Darrelle Revis, Lavonte David, Mark Barron and Gerald McCoy leading the way. There isn’t a lot to fix outside of the winning culture which should be fix with the arrival of Lovie Smith.
31. Ray Farmer, Cleveland Browns - The Browns players, coaches and scouts aren’t to blame here. The fault lies with ownership and their inability to commit to a coach or general manager for more than a year. Jimmy Haslam has turned the Browns’ general manager job and the coaching position into a toxic situation that nobody wants to be a part of so best of luck to Ray Farmer.
32. Dennis Hickey, Miami Dolphins - Hickey inherits Jeff Ireland’s mess in Miami and that is very unfortunate due to some of the terrible free agent decisions (name Richie Incognito) as well as the current state of disarray in the locker room. There are some halfway decent pieces in place with Ryan Tannehill, Cameron Wake and Dion Jordan but the Dolphins roster has a long way to go before they can be a playoff qualifier.