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NFL GM Power Rankings: John Dorsey, Kevin Colbert rank top 5

Who are the best team-builders in the NFL today? Which front office folks leave something to be desired? I explored these questions one year ago in my first-ever GM power rankings, annoying and delighting decision-makers around the league. And now, just days before the roster-refurbishment exercise known as the NFL draft, it's time to revisit this honcho hierarchy.

Behold: the list of the top NFL general managers/decision-makers, based on body of work in the big chair. That includes drafts, free agency, hirings and basically any avenue available to improve the roster and organization.

NOTE: I did not rank first-time decision-makers hired after the 2017 NFL Draft, because they have not been on the job long enough to allow for a fair evaluation. I did, however, include those who came to the job with an established track record from previous tenures, including Dave Gettleman, John Dorsey and Marty Hurney. Before we get to the rankings, let's dispatch with the men too new in the role to be ranked, presented in alphabetical order.


Brandon Beane, Bills

Beane and his ex-Panthers buddy, head coach Sean McDermott, tore it all down by deposing many of former general manager Doug Whaley's players in 2018 before building Buffalo's roster back up with an active free-agent class this year. There's plenty to like about what the new Bills regime has done in a short time, but Beane's tenure will likely be judged on how his hand-picked quarterback (Josh Allen) develops.

Eric DeCosta, Ravens

The transition from Ozzie Newsome to his longtime lieutenant should be seamless because they simply appear to be changing roles. Newsome has been seen still working at league events like the NFL Scouting Combine and owner's meetings in a "consigliere" role for DeCosta.

Brian Gaine, Texans

Gaine's only draft in Houston didn't include one pick in the first two rounds, although the characteristics of the current roster remain typical of the Bill O'Brien era: The Texans are in need of offensive line help and thin on weapons beyond DeAndre Hopkins, though they did find some nice free-agent values in the secondary to supplement a star-studded front seven.

Chris Grier, Dolphins

While Grier has held the general manager title since 2016, it's safe to say that former VP Mike Tannenbaum and former coach Adam Gase held more personnel sway over the last three years. When Tannenbaum was let go, owner Stephen Ross made it clear that it was Grier's turn to run the show.

Brian Gutekunst, Packers

Gutekunst's aggressive additions to the Packers' defense in free agency were popular on the homefront, and built upon his defense-heavy first draft. Now, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine needs to make Gutekunst's moves look smart. Inheriting an offense with Aaron Rodgers and David Bakhtiari should ultimately make Gutekunst's job a lot easier.

Mike Mayock, Raiders

Jon Gruden is believed to wield more personnel power than most head coaches, but the draft should be Mayock's time to put all that worldly experience he absorbed as a former colleague of the "Around the NFL Podcast" to good use.

Brett Veach, Chiefs

It's hard to know where to divvy up the credit between previous general manager John Dorsey, head coach Andy Reid and Veach, who was hired after the 2017 NFL Draft. Veach's defensive overhaul this offseason was partly a recognition that last year's Chiefs secondary wasn't going to cut it.


Up/down arrows reflect changes from last offseason's GM rankings.

Allen has proven excellent at gaining the trust of ownership in Oakland, Tampa Bay and Washington, bridging the gap between ownership and the football side of the building. However, constructing a long-term vision in any of the locations has proven more challenging. This ranking reflects his body of work rather than just the last few years, along with a preference for management that aims for championships rather than the soft middle of the NFL's standings.

Licht appeared to push his chips into the middle of the table last offseason with a defensive line free-agent spending spree, and the Bucs' defense remained among the worst in football, like it has been for most of Licht's five-year run. Failing to fix consistent weak spots and burning big dollars on curious re-signings, such as left tackle Donovan Smith, have helped define Licht's tenure. It's up to Bruce Arians and new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles to prove it was the previous coaches, not Licht's players, who were the problem.

The last few months are promising. Sam Darnold will be throwing to an intriguing group of weapons, including Le'Veon Bell and Jamison Crowder. But Maccagnan's first four years have mostly been a bust. His first hire (Todd Bowles) didn't pan out. In the draft, he hit big on a few first-round picks ( Leonard Williams, Jamal Adams) and very little else. The overall talent level has been among the league's lowest. The Jets are the only team in the entire NFL that hasn't won at least six games in any of the last three seasons, but are entering a year when Maccagnan's long-term vision as the steward of the franchise should be panning out.

Two years of the John Lynch experience in San Francisco has contained a lot of swings and a lot of foul balls, if not outright misses. This ranking admittedly might be different if Jimmy Garoppolo hadn't been hurt last year, but the 49ers' defensive struggles remain more on the front office. Lynch's first two draft picks ( Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster) haven't worked out for different reasons, although Thomas still has a chance to become a more consistent contributor. Lynch suffers in these rankings for the same reason Chris Ballard succeeds: With a limited sample size, every draft class and free agency period counts.

This will be Quinn's fourth draft with the Lions, and he is just now putting his imprint on the organization (beyond bringing in another former Patriot, Matt Patricia, to coach the team). The offensive and defensive lines have potential, but overall, this is a roster that ranks roughly around average without much potential to be great. That's where this Lions organization has lived for a while.

Caldwell retains the general manager title, but executive vice president Tom Coughlin is at the top of the personnel pyramid. The Jaguars are only a season removed from playing in the AFC Championship Game, but they haven't won more than five games in any of Caldwell's other five years at the helm. The Jags should easily top that number this year with Nick Foles at quarterback and a defense still stocked with talent.

Gettleman helped take a talented Panthers roster to the next level in Carolina, but most of the best players were in place when he arrived, due to some productive Marty Hurney drafts. His early attempt at reviving the Giants has shown too much emotion in holding on to a franchise great in Eli Manning and dumping the franchise's best player, Odell Beckham Jr., for 75 cents on the dollar.

It's hard to separate the Marty Hurney who ran the Panthers from 2002 to 2012 with the one who returned to Carolina after Dave Gettleman's surprise firing in the summer of 2017. While the old Hurney got a reputation for handing out bad contracts, the new Hurney followed up a promising 2018 draft ( D.J. Moore, Donte Jackson) with a quietly productive free agency period. It's a little surprising that Hurney survived the change in ownership to David Tepper, but perhaps that's because the veteram GM has done a solid job with his second chance.

The great team-builders are able to thrive following a coaching change. Keim's Cardinals roster crumbled after Bruce Arians left -- and after the GM had to serve a five-week suspension following a DUI arrest. Given a second chance by owner Michael Bidwill, Keim will ride or die with another quarterback whisperer (Kliff Kingsbury) and likely a No. 1 overall draft pick that will determine his future.

Tobin's drafts have fallen off a bit in recent years, but the team's director of player personnel deserves extra credit for working within the constraints of a Bengals organization with fewer resources than other teams. It will be interesting to see if new Bengals coach Zac Taylor gives Tobin a new lease on life like Sean McVay did for Les Snead and Matt Nagy did for Ryan Pace.

I ranked Pace last in this exercise a year ago and heard about it from a lot of Pace loyalists who believed he was weighed down by former Bears coach John Fox. Those loyalists look pretty smart now, and my ranking looks otherwise. The excellent continuity and talent built on defense by Pace will be tested following Vic Fangio's departure, but it's clear that Pace and coach Matt Nagy have the same vision for their suddenly frisky offense. It's on Pace's pickups -- Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Mitchell Trubisky and Anthony Miller -- to make more plays on their own in 2019 after Nagy did such a great job manufacturing offense for them a year ago.

Elway probably got too much credit for the excellent Broncos run earlier this decade culminating in a Super Bowl trophy. And now the good work he did back then is probably too forgotten, with Denver fumbling the post-Manning era. The Broncos' ever-changing coaching staff reflects more poorly on Elway than his inability to fix the offensive line, although Elway snagged a promising pair of football lifers in head coach Vic Fangio and offensive line coach Mike Munchak.

Just looking at the drafts from the last three years, Robinson ranks rather high. When you consider he essentially inherited Marcus Mariota and Mike Mularkey with the job, the Titans' mediocrity since Robinson was hired doesn't, for the most part, fall on this front office. Robinson's free-agent signings (including Adam Humphries, Rodger Saffold and Cameron Wake) this offseason were moves made by a general manager doing everything in his power to push the Titans out of the NFL's middle.

Jones' track record in the draft, especially in the first round, remains rather impressive. The annual roster management is less so, with Jones often holding on to players too long ( Jason Witten and Sean Lee) or overvaluing big names ( Randall Cobb, Tavon Austin and Robert Quinn). But if the team keeps adding talents like Ezekiel Elliott, Leighton Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith and DeMarcus Lawrence on draft day, they can afford to make mistakes elsewhere.

Like Jeff Ireland now in New Orleans, Spielman rebuilt his reputation after leaving Miami. Spielman and Mike Zimmer have done an impressive job building around homegrown talent, and the roster isn't as defense-heavy after the big-time contracts given to Kirk Cousins, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. This stars-and-scrubs approach -- with so many long-term deals handed out -- will put pressure on Spielman and Zimmer to spin gold with the bottom of the roster.

Few general managers have bigger hits spread across the draft ( Joey Bosa, No. 3 overall; Derwin James, No. 17; Keenan Allen, No. 76; Desmond King, No. 151) and free agency ( Casey Hayward, Russell Okung) than Telesco. Then again, the organization has underperformed, considering Philip Rivers' Hall of Fame-level of play. The team's lines remain unfinished on both sides of the ball.

It's impossible to know who is really calling the personnel shots in New Orleans, as head coach Sean Payton obviously holds a ton of power. Another guess could be assistant general manager Jeff Ireland, but putting his name above could make this exercise a mess, so I'm sticking with executive VP/GM Mickey Loomis. The Saints' draft record outside of the 2017 event (which they crushed) is spotty, but the organization has done a better job lately of finding defensive talent and has built a strong offensive line while the rest of the NFC South struggles to do so.

The Colts' trade with the Jets last year, which netted them the sixth, 37th and 49th overall picks in 2018 and a second-rounder this year, was nice. Actually capitalizing on their draft picks was a lot nicer. Ballard's second draft at the helm included a generational guard (Quenton Nelson), the Defensive Rookie of the Year (Darius Leonard) and another starter in right tackle Braden Smith. It's the type of draft that changes a franchise, and Ballard's other roster-building moves have proven to be smart calculations, as well. Colts fans are in good hands with Ballard, Frank Reich and Andrew Luck leading the franchise into the next decade.

Snead's two-year run since Sean McVay arrived is a reminder that teams can rebuild quickly. It remains to be seen how the Rams' lack of high draft picks over the last two seasons hurts them long-term, but the notion that Los Angeles was Super Bowl or bust in 2018 never made sense. The Rams have as many core young players signed long-term as any team and have already shown a gutsy penchant for trades and flexible free-agent signings that bode well for the future. Snead is a prime example that sometimes general managers, like quarterbacks, just need a coaching change to fulfill all their potential.

While Schneider may never top his brilliant early run of draft picks, he and Pete Carroll deserve extra credit for keeping the Seahawks winning while transitioning away from "Legion of Boom" greats. They've done a smart job re-signing veterans at the right time, including with Russell Wilson's recent megadeal. With that said, the last three draft classes have a long way to go.

The 2018 season went horribly awry in a number of ways for Dimitroff, but this rank attempts to take the longview, like general managers do. Dimitroff's track record with two different head coaches is impressive, although it's fair to question whether the Falcons have rewarded some of the wrong players lately. Devonta Freeman's post-contract injuries are mostly bad luck, but cornerback Robert Alford's extension proved premature and the organization's continued loyalty to Vic Beasley hasn't borne fruit. Still, there's too much talent on this roster to stay down for long.

After drafting Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City, Baker Mayfield in Cleveland and then trading for Odell Beckham Jr., Dorsey has to be feeling like a God among men. (Dorsey was also rumored to once be set to draft Paxton Lynch before John Elway swooped in, so luck has plenty to do with legacy, too.) And while former GM Sashi Brown deserves some love for leaving so many picks behind, Dorsey's 2018 draft and 2019 free-agent moves have been a masterclass in the instant rebuild. Following his quick turnaround of the Chiefs with Andy Reid, Dorsey's track record is spotless. In a year-to-year league, a long-term overhaul is overrated.

This is a crucial year for Colbert -- like it is for his franchise quarterback -- to prove that his best days are not behind him. With Colbert serving as the Steelers' decision-maker since 2000, only Bill Belichick has piloted more consistent success for an NFL team this century, with Pittsburgh suffering only one losing season during his tenure. Never a big spender in free agency, Colbert needs more drafts like his 2017 haul ( T.J. Watt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Conner) to keep replenishing the team's talent base. Despite using a lot of picks at the position, Colbert has never quite been able to find defensive backs that work in Mike Tomlin's scheme.

The Eagles are the model for today's flexible front office, with Roseman leaning equally on traditional scouting (vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas) and analytics (VP of of football operations and strategy Alec Halaby). That approach shows up in the team's emphasis on line play on both sides of the ball, along with an attitude in free agency that doesn't fear uncertainty. The Eagles entered this offseason with major salary cap questions, yet found room to add DeSean Jackson, Malik Jackson, Jordan Howard and re-sign Brandon Graham and Ronald Darby without experiencing a roster bloodletting.

It's never just about one way of acquiring players for New England. Whether it's the Pats' stockpiling of compensatory picks or their league-leading use of "pick swap" trades, no team is more creative at filling in roster gaps. Belichick balances long-term planning with vital short-term veteran patches better than anyone. The Pats' long-running reliance on trades and one-year solutions is being adapted by many teams around the league.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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