The Tennessee Titans are a very attractive job for a head coach. They have a Hall of Fame defensive coordinator if they want to keep him, a low pressure environment with low expectations and a franchise quarterback. However, this job is even more important to a general manager.
Think about it, they will likely have a ton of money to spend in free agency, they will get to pick from essentially any coach they want, they don't have any bad contracts going forward, and they get to enter the NFL Draft with with a top two pick without needing to get a quarterback. In all likelihood, they will get to take the person they feel is the best player in the draft which is a huge advantage for them.
So, with that in mind I thought it would be interesting to look at who NFL.com thinks the top GM candidates are. The full article is here, but this is their top 10 (listed in alphabetical order).
1. "Chris Ballard, director of football operations, Kansas City Chiefs: Could've had the Bucs job in 2014, was close in Chicago last year. Strong evaluator who's waiting for a "true" GM job (with full power/responsibility)."
My thoughts: If he is truly waiting for a full power opportunity, this is it. Not only will he be instrumental in choosing head coach, he will also have a lot of leeway in who he wants to sign and what contracts he wants to give out.
Best signings/picks: Jeremy Maclin, re-signed Justin Houston, Marcus Peters (Pro Bowl rookie), Mitch Morse, Travis Kelce
2. "Nick Caserio, director of player personnel, New England Patriots: Caserio just signed a deal last year taking him through the rest of the decade. But that won't stop others from asking -- and Detroit or Cleveland might."
My thoughts: It is so hard to separate what Bill Belichick does with what his personnel people do. Is Belichick making these players look good/great, or would they be good in any system? I don't know, but if the Patriots want to keep him for the rest of the decade, then maybe this wouldn't be a bad idea.
Best signings/picks: Rob Gronkowski, Jamie Collins, Jerod Mayo, Dont'a Hightower, Danny Amendola, and Nate Solder.
3." Eric DeCosta, assistant general manager, Baltimore Ravens: DeCosta's flirted in the past, but is content to remain as Ozzie Newsome's heir apparent. He thought about Chicago, and would only leave for a gold-standard job."
My thoughts: I'm not sure about gold-standard, but if he has any interest in leaving ever, he isn't going to find a job with more assets in place than this one.
Best signings/picks: Steve Smith, Kelechi Osemele, Justin Tucker, Ricky Wagner, C.J. Mosley, Timmy Jernigan.
4. "Brian Gaine, director of player personnel, Houston Texans: Organized, talented and Parcells-tree-connected, Gaine has become a trusted resource for Bill O'Brien. Interviewed in Miami, St. Louis, Chicago and New York."
My thoughts: This is the first selection I don't like. The Texans are a poorly built team. Old and bad on the offensive line, they had no back up plan for Arian Foster despite his injury prone past, one receiver that carries the team, defense that is constantly saved by J.J. Watt. I'm just not a fan.
Best signings/picks: Re-signed Watt, DeAndre Hopkins
5. "Omar Khan, director of football and business administration, Pittsburgh Steelers: Long pegged to be Bill Cowher's GM if Cowher ever were to get back in, Khan's skill with the cap and connections would be valuable to any coach."
My thoughts: Alright back on track. I think the Steelers have quietly done a great job taking this team into the 21st century without any issues. His track record speaks for itself, and having someone that is that connected would be a huge asset.
Best signings/picks: David Decastro, Le'Veon Bell, Markus Wheaton, Ryan Shazier, Stephon Tuitt, Martavis Bryant.
6. "Will McClay, senior director of college and pro scouting, Dallas Cowboys: A former coach who's worked his way to the top of the scouting department in Dallas and has influence with the Joneses. But would he want to leave?"
My thoughts: If you are talking about someone who knows how to build an offensive line and get receivers then this is a great hire on paper. If he wants to get recognition and a bigger payday, then this makes a lot of sense. McClay is also from Memphis, which means he may have some ties to the area.
Best signings/picks: Dez Bryant, Byron Jones, Randy Gregory, La'el Collins, Zach Martin, re-signed Tyron Smith, DeMarcus Lawrence, Devin Street, Travis Fredrick, Terrance Williams.
7. "Terry McDonough, vice president of player personnel, Arizona Cardinals: Jason Licht's replacement as Steve Keim's right-hand man has a strong reputation as a hard-nosed, fearless evaluator who turns over every rock."
My thoughts: The Cardinals have the deepest and most talented roster in the NFL. Likewise, they have one of the best head coaches in the NFL, and if there is someone in that organization that can replicate that process then this list needs to stop right here.
Best signings/picks: Deone Bucannon, John Brown, David Johnson, re-signed Patrick Peterson, re-signed Carson Palmer, JJ Nelson.
8. "George Paton, assistant general manager, Minnesota Vikings: The question with Paton isn't if so much as it's when he'll get a GM job. Would've been the front-runner for the Jets job last year, but pulled his name out early."
My thoughts:The Vikings and Bengals have been the favorite franchises of "draft twitter" and that community really hasn't been wrong about much on the macro level. Reports say that Dan Quinn was hoping to have him in Atlanta, and that the New York Jets wanted him to take the job in 2014.
Best signings/picks: Xavier Rhodes, kept Adrian Peterson, Anthony Barr, Teddy Bridgewater, Scott Crichton, Eric Kendricks, Stefon Diggs.
9. "Jon Robinson, director of player personnel, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bill Belichick's old college director has helped Licht overhaul the roster with two strong draft classes. Tennessee native who could be of interest to the Titans."
My thoughts: This is another one I am conflicted about. On one hand, this team drafted Mike Evans and several offensive linemen who are developing nicely. However, they took Jameis Winston over Marcus Mariota, which I still think was a mistake based off of everything I have seen.
Best signings/picks: Mike Evans, Donovan Smith, Ali Marpet, Kwon Alexander
10. "Duke Tobin, director of player personnel, Cincinnati Bengals: Like McClay, Tobin has already reached the scouting peak of an owner-driven operation. He's got a quiet way, but the talent in Cincy speaks for itself."
My thoughts: This is the team that has internally built better than any other team on this list. This team is homegrown and they have done a lot of great things in terms of building for the future.
Best signings/picks: Cedric Ogbuehi, Jake Fisher, Jeremy Hill, re-sign A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert, Gio Bernard.