10. Thomas Dimitroff, Falcons
This Bill Belichick disciple rebuilt the Falcons in one draft, possibly even one draft pick, with Matt Ryan in 2008. What Dimitroff has accomplished in three drafts is impressive, and makes you wonder just how good he could make the Falcons in another three years.
Best 1st-round pick: Matt Ryan (2008)
Best late-round pick: Kroy Biermann (5th round, 2008)
Biggest bust: Peria Jerry (1st round, 2009)
9. Mike Reinfeldt, Titans
Reinfeldt’s first two 1st-round picks (Micael Griffin, Chris Johnson) have already developed into Pro Bowlers, and Kenny Britt is poised for a breakout year in 2011. Reinfeldt has also started to get production from some late-round picks such as Jason McCourty, Gerald McRath and Alterraun Verner.
Best 1st-round pick: Chris Johnson (2008)
Best late-round pick: Jason McCourty (6th round, 2009)
Biggest bust: Chris Henry (2nd round, 2007)
8. A.J. Smith, Chargers
Smith played a key role in the Chargers front office under John Butler, but after Butler’s death he assume the role of GM. His most noteworthy draft came in 2004 – his first full year on the job – when he orchestrated the trade of Eli Manning for Philip Rivers, Shawne Merriman and Nate Kaeding.
Best 1st-round pick: Eli Manning (2004 – traded to Giants)
Best late-round pick: Shaun Phillips (4th round, 2004)
Biggest bust: Sammy Davis (1st round, 2003)
7. Bill Polian, Colts
Polian was instrumental in constructing the Bills dynasty of the early 90s and then got the Panthers franchise started before landing in Indy. He deserves as much credit as anyone for building the Colts into a perennial contender, with much thanks to his decision to take Manning of Leaf in 1998. However, his 2nd and 3rd rounds have yielded plenty of busts such as Tony Ugoh and Jerome Pathon.
Best 1st-round pick: Peyton Manning (1998)
Best late-round pick: Robert Mathis (5th round, 2003)
Biggest bust: Tony Ugoh (2nd round, 2007)
6. Kevin Colbert, Steelers
Colbert takes an uncommon approach to the draft and isn’t afraid to take a player that doesn’t necessarily fill a need if he’s the best guy on the board. Others may want to start following suit, because it works. Colbert has made 11 1st-round picks and hit on each and every one. Even his 2nd round success is impressive, with players such as LaMarr Woodley and Antwaan Randle-El.
Best 1st-round pick: Ben Roethlisberger (2004)
Best late-round pick: Brett Keisel (7th round, 2002)
Biggest bust: Ricardo Colclough (2nd round, 2004)
5. Jerry Reese, Giants
Reese replaced the legendary Ernie Acorsi in 2007 and immediately orchestrated one of the most impressive drafts in team history – all seven members of that ’07 class are still with the organization. In fact, of Reese’s 14 picks spent in the first three rounds, all 14 are still with the Giants.
Best 1st-round pick: Hakeem Nicks (2009)
Best late-round pick: Ahmad Bradshaw (7th round, 2007)
Biggest bust: none
4. Scott Pioli, Chiefs
Technically Pioli has only had the final say on draft day since joining the Chiefs in 2009, but I would remiss if I didn’t at least mention his days in New England. Bill Belichick called the shots, but Pioli definitely had his ear. In Kansas City, Pioli has already started to build them into contenders with two strong drafts.
Best 1st-round pick: Eric Berry (2010)
Best late-round pick: Tony Moeacki (3rd round, 2010)
Biggest bust: none
3. Ted Thompson, Packers
No GM uses the draft from start to finish – right down to the free agents – better than Thompson. The Packers consistently have a steady group of home-grown talent stabilizing the roster. The only thing holding him back from the top spot is a few questionable early selections such as Justin Harrell (1st round, ’07) and Patrick Lee (2nd round, 2008).
Best 1st-round pick: Clay Matthews (2009)
Best late-round pick: Desmond Bishop (6th round, 2007)
Biggest bust: Justin Harrell (1st round, 2007)
2. Ozzie Newsome, Ravens
The Hall of Fame tight end has been with the franchise since its days in Cleveland was promoted to GM in 2003. His drafts have built the Ravens into a perennial contender. Newsome’s strength is hitting home runs with nearly every 1st-round pick. Of his seven 1st-round selections, only Kyle Boller (2003) and Mark Clayton (2006) are no longer with the team.
Best 1st-round pick: Terrell Suggs (2003)
Best late-round pick: Jarret Johnson (4th round, 2003)
Biggest bust: Kyle Boller (1st round, 2003)
1. Bill Belichick, Patriots
No one works the draft process quite like Belichick. While he’s been supported by others along the way (Scott Pioli, Thomas Dimitroff) it’s Belichick who has the final say. He’s the master of draft-day trades, and gets a nice balance of great 1st-round picks and late-round steals.
Best 1st-round pick: Vince Wilfork (2004)
Best late-round pick: Tom Brady (6th round, 2000)
Biggest bust: Chad Jackson (2nd round, 2006)