You probably couldn’t pick them out of a lineup but they are the undisputed stars of the NFL draft: General managers. We list the best.
T-10. Thomas Dimitroff (Atlanta Falcons)
He’s been named NFL Executive of the Year in two of the last three seasons and it’s no wonder: His first move was drafting QB Matt Ryan and signing RB Michael Turner, which has turned the Falcons’ offense from a joke to one of the best in the NFL. Oh, and in the same draft he also landed LB Curtis Lofton, CB Chevis Jackson and WR Harry Douglas. It’s a little too early to put him among the very best in the league – like, until the Falcons actually win a playoff game – but Dimitroff is well on his way.
T-10. Mark Dominik (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
It’s hard to distinguish between these two new kids on the block. In his first draft, Dominik selected QB Josh Freeman, which was called a reach by many. In 2010 he drafted DT Gerald McCoy, DT Brian Price, WR Arrelious Benn, CB Myron Lewis and WR Mike Williams. The result? The Bucs improved improved by seven games last season and to the verge of the playoffs. Not too shabby.
9. A.J. Smith (San Diego Chargers)
Yes, he let Drew Brees get away and there are plenty of people that hate his guts and called him the “Lord of No Rings.” Well, in his second draft, he traded picks so that the Giants got Eli Manning while the Chargers landed Philip Rivers, Nate Kaeding and Shawne Merriman. He’s also discovered stars like Vincent Jackson and Michael Turner despite no one hearing of them in college.
8. Kevin Colbert (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Definitely the least appreciated GM in the league, Colbert draws groans in Pittsburgh for neglecting the offensive line and a secondary that got torched in Super Bowl XLV. Well, when you’ve got two Super Bowl rings and have selected Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu, Mike Wallace, Max Starks, Ike Taylor, Brett Keisel and gotten Willie Parker and James Harrison from the rookie free agent pool, you get a couple “Get out of jail free” cards.
7. Mickey Loomis (New Orleans Saints)
The big feather in the cap of Loomis is signing Drew Brees over trading for Daunte Culpepper in 2006. But he’s also done a great job digging up great talent in the draft such as WR Marques Colston, RB Pierre Thomas, RB Chris Ivory, guards Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks and S Roman Harper. Considered a complete slam dunk at the time, the Reggie Bush pick in 2006 hasn’t exactly worked out as planned, but name one GM who would have passed on Bush at the time.
6. Scott Pioli (Kansas City Chiefs)
For tipping the Patriots off on selecting Tom Brady in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft alone, Pioli belongs on this list. And Bill Parcells’ son-in-law has done a lot more than that. As VP of Player Personnel for the Pats, he helped land Wes Welker for second and seventh round picks plus Randy Moss for a fourth rounder. He won three Super Bowls while in the New England front office. His last two drafts with the Pats were a wash but when he landed in Kansas City, he swung a deal to land Matt Cassel. Pioli also hit home runs with last year’s first round pick, Eric Berry, and the Chiefs are now a playoff team instead of a doormat.
5. Jerry Reese (New York Giants)
Reese hit the ground sprinting after replacing Ernie Accorsi in 2007, landing Aaron Ross, Steve Smith, Jay Alford, Kevin Boss, Michael Johnson, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Zak DeOssie in his first draft – all of whom helped lead the Giants to a Super Bowl title the following season. The jury is still out on last year’s first rounder, Jason Pierre-Paul, but otherwise Reese has consistently been great with his picks and made shrewd moves like landing DB Antrel Rolle after he was cut by the Cardinals.
4. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots)
While former Titans GM Floyd Reese is now a senior adviser for the Pats, we all know who is in charge. Despite losing Scott Pioli to the Chiefs in 2009, the Pats haven’t missed a beat with smart draft picks like Patrick Chung, Devin McCourtney, Brandon Spikes, Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Aaron Hernandez – to name a few. Oh, and Belichick was the guy who realized Danny Woodhead was way better than anyone else in the league realized. Now armed with five picks in the first 74 selections because of shrewd moves like trading Richard Seymour and Randy Moss, expect Belichick to make a 14-2 team much better.
3. Ozzie Newsome (Baltimore Ravens)
The former Browns tight end went to the dark side by following the franchise to Baltimore but he’s done an unbelievable job while there. He helped pick Ray Lewis and Johnathan Ogden and since taking over the GM gig in 2002, Newsome just keeps bringing talent to Baltimore despite usually drafting late in rounds. He’s had lots of success with Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, Joe Flacco and Ray Rice and his success isn’t limited to the draft. He landed Anquan Boldin last season from the Cardinals for mere third and fourth round draft picks.
2. Bill Polian (Indianapolis Colts)
Always placed #1 on these lists, this six-time NFL Executive of the Year took a miserable Bills franchise and compiled a team that went to four straight Super Bowls in the early 1990s. He moved on to the Carolina Panthers where he nearly won a Super Bowl in year two of an expansion franchise and then headed over to Indianapolis where his first order of business was selecting Peyton Manning over Ryan Leaf in the 1998 NFL draft. A year later the Colts landed Edgerrin James. The Colts are now annually in the playoffs and finally won it all in 2007 behind the drafting of Reggie Wayne, Bob Sanders, Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis and Joseph Addai – just to name a few. The question is, with the Colts seemingly in a slight decline, has Polian lost his touch just a bit?
1. Ted Thompson (Green Bay Packers)
That’s right, there’s a new king of the castle. After helping build the Seahawks to a Super Bowl level, Thompson’s first move after being named Green Bay’s general manager in 2005 was drafting Aaron Rodgers with the 24th overall pick. Yeah, that worked out pretty well. He’s had a couple misses in the draft – most notably Justin Harrell and Brian Brohm – but overall he has stocked the Packers’ fridge full with young talent like Clay Matthews, Nick Collins, B.J. Raji, Brian Bulaga, Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finley, Sam Shields, Tramon Williams and Greg Jennings. When NFL.com recently asked seven experts who they’d like running their draft room, three (and a half) selected Thompson.