Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Draft Watch: AFC North
By James Walker
» NFC decision-makers: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South
» Draft Watch:
Biggest needs (2/17) | Busts/gems (2/24) | Schemes, themes (3/3) | Recent history (3/10) | Needs revisited (3/17) | Under-the-radar needs (3/26) | History in that spot (3/31) | Draft approach (4/7) | Decision-makers (4/14) | Dream scenario/Plan B (4/21)
Each week leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the ESPN.com blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today’s topic: decision-makers.
There is no question who calls the shots in Cleveland this year. New team president Mike Holmgren joined the Browns with the unofficial title of "football czar." In other words, "The Big Show" has final say on everything inside their building. To Holmgren's credit, he's delegated some of his vast power to general manager Tom Heckert in the front office and Eric Mangini on the coaching side while overseeing the entire operation. But rest assured, next week's draft will have Holmgren's fingerprints all over it.
The Steelers are very traditional when it comes to personnel decisions. The coaches coach during the season and the front office picks the players afterward. That firm line makes for very little confusion on the South Side. Pittsburgh's Kevin Colbert is one of the league's best general managers and probably doesn't get enough credit. For the most part Colbert avoids the spotlight and sparingly does interviews, although he spent some time with the AFC North blog recently. Instead Colbert prefers to stay behind the scenes most of the year until it's time to make moves on draft day.
The Bengals don't put nearly as many resources into scouting as their rivals, and it's a major reason they haven't had back-to-back winning seasons in 28 years. Without a normal front-office setup, the final calls are made at the ownership level led by Mike Brown. It's somewhat of a mystery exactly how Cincinnati scouts its players with such a scant front office, but the coaching staff plays a large and active role with scouting in the offseason.
"In Ozzie we trust" is a saying you hear often in Baltimore this time of year. Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome is one of the best in the business at replenishing Baltimore's roster with young talent via the draft. In the past couple of years alone, Newsome has hit home runs with Ray Rice, Joe Flacco and Michael Oher. Director of player personnel Eric DeCosta is Newsome's right-hand man in Baltimore, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a better pairing of talent executives in the league.