Gil Brandt knows NFL front offices. He spent 29 years with the Dallas Cowboys as their Director of Player Personnel, and set the tone for the way teams handle NFL personnel strategy today. Brandt ranked his top eight "power brokers" in the NFL this week for NFL.com, and it probably won't surprise you that Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff made his list, coming in at number six.
These "power brokers," according to Brandt, are the guys front offices approach when they want to make a trade on draft day, or to acquire a veteran player. They are the primary decision makers for their respective organizations, and the gentlemen who made this list are using that power wisely.
At the top of his list is Bill Belichick. If you've read War Room, you understand how integral Belichick is to every single personnel transaction the Patriots undertake. He knows the team inside and out--every strength, every weakness, every need--and he's extremely smart and strategic in addressing their needs. I would put Belichick at the top of the list, also, and many of the hallmarks of Dimitroff's success come as a result of his time in the New England system.
Packers general manager Ted Thompson is second on the list. Much like Thomas Dimitroff, Thompson places a high value on building through the draft and retaining the players Green Bay develops.
Third on Brandt's list is Trent Baalke. The San Francisco general manager has a unique understanding of football, having spent time as a defensive line coach and strength and conditioning coach at the college level before joining the New York Jets staff as a scout under Bill Parcells. Brandt was hired by San Francisco just two years ago, and while San Francisco has been quite successful over the past two years, its a pretty small sample size for Baalke to be ranked so highly.
Fourth, in Brandt's opinion, is Jerry Reese. Reese, like Dimitroff, worked his way up through the Giants organization--although he did not start on the grounds crew, he began his career as a scout in New York. He was hired as New York's general manager in 2007, and the team has won two Super Bowls since he took over in the front office. It's hard to argue with those numbers.
Coming in at fifth on Brandt's list is Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome. Newsome is undoubtedly one of the best in the business. He understands the game from every perspective, as a former player and a longtime executive, and he is an excellent evaluator of talent.
Our very own Comrade, selected as the Sporting News Executive of the Year twice in his brief five-year career, is sixth on Brandt's list. Dimitroff is a skilled evaluator of talent, he's not afraid to make big moves, like the blockbuster trade to draft wide receiver Julio Jones, and he's willing to take chances on free agents if he feels like their veteran presence can enhance Atlanta's chances for success. Sometimes it works out--look at Tony Gonzalez--and sometimes it doesn't--Ray Edwards, ugh--but Dimitroff has had more hits than misses through the draft and free agency in his brief career.
Behind Dimitroff on the list are Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, who gets a lot of credit for things he accomplished prior to joining the Redskins staff, and Rick Smith, the Texans general manager.
In general, I agree with Brandt's list, for the most part. If I were ranking these same coaches and executives, my list would have Bill Belichick first, Ozzie Newsome second, Ted Thompson third, Jerry Reese fourth, Thomas Dimitroff fifth, Trent Baalke sixth, Rick Smith seventh, and Mike Shanahan eighth.
What do you think about the rankings? Where do you think Dimitroff ranks among his peers?