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2014 NFL coaching class awards

The Cleveland Browns' hiring of Mike Pettine wrapped up the 2014 coaching hire season. All new seven head coaches are in place: Pettine, Lovie Smith, Ken Whisenhunt, Mike Zimmer, Bill O'Brien, Jim Caldwell and Jay Gruden.

If you don't know which coach landed with what team, you haven't spent enough time snuggling up to our beloved coaching tracker.

Three of the seven hires have been NFL head coaches before: Caldwell, Smith and Whisenhunt. Five of the coaches were NFL coordinators last season, while Smith sat out a year and Bill O'Brien was the head coach at Penn State. Four coaches come from an offensive background, with Pettine and Zimmer adding to the defensive total.

Time will tell which teams made wise choices, but we know that all seven hires are under pressure to win fast. In 2009, 11 new head coaches were hired. Nine of them were fired within three seasons. Only Rex Ryan remains.

We broke down the entire coaching class on the latest "Around The League Podcast," handing out awards for some of the hires. For those of you who are too lazy to listen, let's break some of them down:

Most likely to succeed: Lovie Smith

Smith inherits a terrific defensive roster and brings a great staff with him to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His defensive system is a proven winner. In a league where not every head coach has a defined skill set, we know Smith brings something tangible to the table.

Bill O'Brien also is in a strong position in Houston. While the roster is old in some parts, he is joining a weak division and has the backing of a patient owner and excellent organization.

Best ending to a long-running joke: Mike Pettine

Yes, Browns fans had to endure weeks of unfunny Twitter jokes about coaches withdrawing their names from consideration. None of that matters now. Of all the first-time head coaches, we have the best feeling about Pettine. He is a creative defensive mind, and he's a great leader, by all accounts.

Most opposite of the previous coach: Jim Caldwell

The Lions wanted an offensive mind with head-coaching experience who would not embarrass the organization. In essence: the anti-Jim Schwartz. Ken Whisenhunt made sense, but the Lions couldn't close the deal on him. Caldwell will stabilize things in Detroit.

Most likely to provide a lot of content: Mike Zimmer

The combination of Zimmer and offensive coordinator Norv Turner has a fighting chance of turning around the Minnesota Vikings. Zimmer is going to be interesting, win or lose. We envision many snappy news conferences, sarcastic comments about quarterback play and at least one controversy involving Jim Harbaugh.

Least inspiring for his new fan base: Jay Gruden

Gruden could wind up winning over Redskins fans, but most reacted to his hire in the same way: "Really?"

The Cincinnati Bengals' offense was coming off their third straight no-show in the playoffs. Gruden has a vision for how to improve Robert Griffin III, but it was surprising that he's keeping Jim Haslett to run Washington's struggling defense.

Most surprising belle of the ball: Ken Whisenhunt

It's mysterious why some ex-head coaches are so highly sought after, while others are ignored. We would not have guessed one year ago that Whisenhunt could bounce back so quickly. He had his choice between multiple jobs! Marc Sessler compared Whisenhunt to Geno Smith in last year's draft, with artificially inflated value in a weak class. We think Whisenhunt makes a lot of sense in Tennessee; it was just surprising that he was such a hot name.

We also talked Pro Bowl Draft and looked ahead to Seahawks-Broncos in the latest "Around The League Podcast."

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