The Giants, against all odds, have compiled an impressive list of GM candidates that they have requested to interview. A GM's job involves many things, some of them not directly involving the GMs themselves but rather handled by subordinates, but the job includes salary cap management, trades. free agent signings, the NFL draft, and often the hiring head coaches. Furthermore, the different candidates are in different positions in their organization, so it is not clear from the outside how much they have to do with any specific aspect of the team's finances and roster construction. But let's look at two easy-to-document aspects of the job that each candidate has to be involved in at some level - salary cap and draft - and ask the former Mayor Ed Koch question: "How'm I doin'?" Even if the candidate had no direct involvement, these are at least indicators of the philosophy of the organization they come from. You will note that all the candidates but one are from teams that are in the playoffs, and the one that is not surely would have made the playoffs if not for numerous injuries to key personnel. Here's a summary for each of the major GM candidates. Cap information from Over the Cap, draft information from Pro Football Reference. "Notable hits" are players who have performed above-average regardless of draft position; "notable misses" are round 1 or 2 picks who did not become very good players. (I use Approximate Value as a guide; the line between hits and misses is AV > 5 or < 5 per year. 2021 AV values are not available yet, I made my own call on the rookies.)
Joe Schoen, Buffalo Bills:
Cap space: $8.26M
Picks: 8, 8, 7, 8
Notable hits: Tremaine Edmunds, Josh Allen, Ed Oliver, Devin Singletary, Gabriel Davis, Gregory Rousseau
Notable misses: Wyatt Teller traded, Cody Ford, A.J. Epenesa
Joe Hortiz, Baltimore Ravens:
Cap space: $19.33M
Picks: 12, 8, 10, 8
Notable hits: Lamar Jackson, Mark Andrews, Orlando Brown Jr., Marquise Brown, Patrick Queen, J.K. Dobbins, Odafe Oweh, Rashod Bateman
Notable misses: Hayden Hurst
Ryan Poles, Kansas City Chiefs:
Cap space: $27.29M
Picks: 6, 6, 6, 6
Notable hits: Derrick Nnadi, Mecole Hardman, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Creed Humphrey, Nick Bolton, Trey Smith (Of course KC did draft Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill in 2017 and 2016. Poles was College Scouting Coordinator and Director of College Scouting those years.)
Notable misses: Breeland Speaks, Juan Thornhill, Willie Gay Jr.
Monti Ossenfort and Ryan Cowden, Tennessee Titans:
Cap space: $10.8M
Picks: 4, 6, 6, 8
Notable hits: Rashaan Evans, Harold Landry, Jeffery Simmons, A.J. Brown, Nate Davis
Notable misses: Isaiah Wilson, Kristian Fulton, Dillon Radunz
Adam Peters and Ran Carthon, San Francisco 49ers:
Cap space: $11.1M
Picks: 9, 8, 5, 8
Notable hits: Mike McGlinchey, Fred Warner, Nick Bosa, Deebo Samuel, Dre Greenlaw, Brandon Aiyuk, Javon Kinlaw
Notable misses: Dante Pettis, Aaron Banks
Quentin Harris and Adrian Wilson, Arizona Cardinals:
Cap space: $18.8M
Picks: 6, 8, 6, 7
Notable hits: Kyler Murray, Rondale Moore
Notable misses: Josh Rosen, Andy Isabella, Byron Murphy, Isaiah Simmons, Zaven Collins
So based on this limited information, I'd say the following:
Joe Hortiz is someone I'd be pretty excited about. He's been with the Ravens since 1998: "Hortiz is responsible for all aspects of the college process...also manages the team's draft preparation and the evaluation and ranking process of hundreds of NFL draft-eligible prospects." (from the Ravens' website) The Ravens always have lots of draft picks, they have a tremendous batting average of getting good players with their round 1-2 picks and sometimes after that, and they rarely lay an egg in in the first 2 rounds. They gambled on a QB at the end of round 1 in 2018, saw he couldn't be a conventional QB, then re-built their offense to optimize his strengths, creating one of the best QBs in the NFL - "tell me what he does well," to quote someone we know.
Peters and Carthon also intrigue me. Peters has been on the scouting side of things quite a bit. According to a Kyle Shanahan news conference yesterday, Peters was the guy who liked Deebo Samuel at the Senior Bowl (https://www.ninersnation.com/2022/1/11/22877874/49ers-kyle-shanahan-adam-peters-deebo-samuel-draft). Carthon has been a college scout but in recent years he has been on the pro personnel side of things. The 49ers have made some tremendous draft picks in recent years (George Kittle from 2017 is not included in my list because neither had anything to do with drafting him.) When picks haven't worked out, my sense is that it has as much to do with Kyle Shanahan's sometimes antagonistic relationship with his draftees rather than the players themselves.
Arizona is a different story. They have actually had pretty unsuccessful drafts in recent years. They are a playoff team because they hit on a dynamic QB with a round 1 pick a year after whiffing on another one, and because they made a couple of great trades that brought in one of the best WRs in the NFL without giving up much, while also trading for a future HOF EDGE rusher. They also got Markus Golden back from the Giants for a 6th round pick. To be honest I was high on two of their most high visibility draft misses (Simmons and Collins). I don't know whether they are not getting great coaching or whether they were just overrated. I'm not sold on Kinsgbury as a good head coach. But if we want the Giants to build through the draft, I'm not sure these candidates are the best way to go.
Ryan Poles has an unusual record. KC is a strange team, extremely top-heavy with future HOFers but with mostly ordinary players filling out much of the roster. He has to get some credit for the drafting of Mahomes and Hill since he was running KC's college scouting in those years. But since 2018 KC has had below-average drafts, getting some players I list as hits (because of their AV) but who are actually midlevel, not great, players. But then this year KC has hit a home run rebuilding their in-tatters OL in a single year with a FA signing (Joe Thuney), a trade ( Orlando Brown Jr.), and two great draft picks (Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith). As Assistant and now Executive Director of Player Personnel he has to have been involved in these transactions.
The other sets of candidates (Ossenfort and Crowden from Tennessee, Schoen from Buffalo) have had good but not great records in drafting. The Titans have had a few really nice draft picks, specifically Jeffery Simmons (taken 2 picks after Dexter Lawrence but a much better pass rusher) and A.J. Brown, but they have had a few high-profile misses, most notably Isaiah Wilson, which was a bad move not only because he wasn't rated a round 1 talent but because of the personal issues they apparently didn't properly vet. For Buffalo, they have had some nice draft picks in recent years also, but their rise to prominence has mainly been due to the drafting of Josh Allen (and his subsequent improvement) and the trade that brought Stefon Diggs as Allen's WR1. (Of course Minnesota used one of the 4 picks they got from Buffalo to draft Justin Jefferson, so that trade seems pretty even now.)
None of these candidates look poor to me. And I have no idea how much each one gets credit for the good things that have happened to their teams in recent years. Nor do I have any idea how well each one can develop and implement a plan for getting the Giants to where we want them to be. But if I had to pick one, Joe Hortiz and Adam Peters are the ones who stand out to me.