With the draft only two days away, fans around the country are hoping that their team uses the three-day selection meeting to rebuild, restock or reload their roster. It’s an event that can transform a franchise, for better or worse, if things aren’t handled in the proper way.
Being successful during the draft ultimately comes down to one thing: Making good decisions. When trade offers come a teams way, do they jump at the opportunity or decide to pass? When they are on the clock, do they pick the right player or reach to fill a need? Being on the right side of these types of questions are what separate the good teams on draft day from the bad ones.
How will your favorite team react and perform? Typically, the answer comes down to the guys in charge. What person, or group of people, is ultimately making those calls?
Heading into Thursday night, which fan bases should have faith in their franchise and which ones should be worried? The editors at cover32 rank the reliability of each team’s front office to answer that all-important question:
1. Seattle Seahawks – When a team wins a Super Bowl with a relatively young roster, which was primarily built through the draft, it’s a sign that their front office knows what it’s doing. John Schneider and Company earn high praise.
2. Baltimore Ravens – Ozzie Newsome is perhaps the best general manager in the NFL, having proven that he can build a Super Bowl winner on two different occasions, more than a decade apart. They have their way and they stick to it.
3. St. Louis Rams – The Rams have two picks in the top 13 this season because they pulled off one of the greatest fleecings in recent NFL history. The trade with Washington for RGIII, which earned St. Louis the No. 2 pick this season, was a steal.
4. Indianapolis Colts – Sure, Ryan Grigson somewhat stumbled into good fortune, having the No. 1 pick when Andrew Luck was on the board. But that’s not the only reason he transformed the Colts from the cellar to a playoff team in one season.
5. Green Bay Packers – Ted Thompson has been on the job for nearly a decade, which provides a unique stability in Titletown. As a result, the Packers tend to make very good decisions. Case in point: Grabbing Eddie Lacy in the second round a year ago.
6. Cincinnati Bengals – People like to scoff at the Brown family, claiming that they don’t know what they’re doing in the front office. But the results show otherwise. A young QB-WR combo has led them to the playoffs in three straight seasons.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers – Perhaps the most-stable franchise in all of professional sports, the Steelers know what they are, know what they want and they stick to the game plan. Kevin Colbert has built two Super Bowl winners that way.
8. New England Patriots – Yes, Bill Belichick hasn’t landed as many draft steals in recent years. Sure, his trick of constantly trading down to stockpile picks is growing stale. But it’s really hard to question the guy, given his overall track record.
9. Arizona Cardinals – Steve Keim might not have been a household name when he got the job in Arizona, but he’s proven to be effective. Hiring Bruce Arians was an outside-the-box idea, as was drafting Tyrann Mathieu. He’s a bold thinker.
10. Houston Texans – Coming off a horrendous season, it’s hard to think positively about the Texans. But close analysis of their roster, which is littered with talented players that they drafted, shows that Rick Smith knows what he’s doing.
11. New York Giants – People in New York will point to one blunder after another, finding plenty of ways to be unhappy with the job general manager Jerry Reese has done. But a pair of Super Bowl rings are the ultimate way to silence the critics.
12. Carolina Panthers – It’s hard not to be bullish on Dave Gettleman, considering the job he did during his first season in Carolina. He stuck with Ron Rivera, when most people were calling for the coach’s head, and won the NFC South title.
13. Denver Broncos – John Elway has been fantastic in free agency, but only so-so in the draft. Broncos fans need to hope that the skill in one area of personnel seeps over to the other side of the equation when the Broncos are on the clock.
14. Atlanta Falcons – Prior to last season’s debacle, the Falcons under Thomas Dimitroff’s leadership had won five more games than any other NFL franchise during a five-year span. That track record trumps one injury-plagued campaign.
15. Chicago Bears – Nobody quite knows what to make of Phil Emery, which is the way the Bears GM seems to like it. But his seemingly quirky moves tend to pay off. Hiring a CFL coach, Marc Trestman, transformed Chicago’s offense in season one.
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The body of work on which to evaluate Jason Licht and his staff is limited. But the early returns are positive. The Bucs hired a good head coach in Lovie Smith and have made some great moves in free agency.