Home NFL Casserly: Each general manager's best draft pick – NFL.com

Casserly: Each general manager's best draft pick – NFL.com

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The 2020 NFL Draft is just weeks away, so I know every general manager is feeling the pressure.

Over the last several weeks, I have looked into each GM’s draft history, talked to sources throughout the league and provided a draft guide for all 32 teams. Below you’ll find best picks, best value picks and draft tendencies for each general manager. Let’s get to it.

Arizona Cardinals: Steve Keim

Year hired: 2013
Number of players drafted: 53
List of Pro Bowlers: 3. S Tyrann Mathieu, RB David Johnson, S Budda Baker.

BEST PICK: QB Kyler Murray, 2019 (Round 1, No. 1 overall). The 2019 Offensive Rookie of the Year can do it all and is the perfect quarterback to lead Kliff Kingsbury’s offense. Murray can make all the throws and is a dangerous runner. The future is bright.

BEST VALUE PICK: RB David Johnson, 2015 (Round 3, No. 86); S Tyrann Mathieu, 2013 (Round 3, No. 69). A small-school back out of Northern Iowa, Johnson was one of the top RBs in the league at one point in his career and was a versatile player who could line up in the backfield or at receiver. Keim took a chance on Mathieu and it ended up paying off. The hybrid defensive player is instinctive and always around the ball.

DEFINITIVE TRAIT/STYLE: Keim tends to draft talent over need — players who are smart, competitive and productive — even if that player has off-the-field issues. Look at Tyrann Mathieu: His draft stock dropped after a suspension kept him off the field during his last year at LSU. Keim took a chance on versatile safety because of his talent and the belief that Mathieu could turn things around. This pick paid off for Keim, and he’ll continue to try to draft the best player available in the early rounds at positions that weren’t filled in free agency.

Atlanta Falcons: Thomas Dimitroff

Year hired: 2008
Number of players drafted: 87
List of Pro Bowlers: 12. WR Julio Jones, QB Matt Ryan, TE Austin Hooper, RB Devonta Freeman, LB Deion Jones, DT Grady Jarrett, OLB Vic Beasley, CB Desmond Trufant, DB Thomas DeCoud, T Jake Matthews, DB William Moore, S Keanu Neal.

BEST PICK: WR Julio Jones, 2011 (Round 1, No. 6 overall). The seven-time Pro Bowler is a true No. 1 receiver and has demanded double and sometimes triple coverage throughout his career. Even then, he still comes down with the ball.

BEST VALUE PICK: DT Grady Jarrett, 2015 (Round 5, No. 137). He’s an explosive pass rushing interior lineman who is also disruptive vs. the run. The 2020 Pro Bowler has started 65 of 69 games since 2016, including playoffs.

DEFINITIVE TRAIT/STYLE: Dimitroff often selects the best player available at a position of need, and the player whose position justifies the draft spot. The Falcons‘ draftees (top to bottom) must meet the necessary qualifications developed by the scouting staff, and an example of a pick that defines their philosophy is 2019 first-rounder Chris Lindstrom. Since taking over as Falcons GM, Dimitroff has made five trades involving first-round picks (all trading up within or into the first round), including a 20-spot jump to nab Julio Jones in 2011.

Baltimore Ravens: Eric DeCosta

Year hired: 2019
Number of players drafted: 8
List of Pro Bowlers: 0.

BEST PICK: WR Marquis Brown, 2019 (Round 1, No. 25 overall). He is a legitimate deep threat with excellent catch-and-run ability. He adjusts well to deep throws and has the feet to make sharp cuts in order to get open on underneath routes. His chemistry with Lamar Jackson was evident as he hauled in seven TDs in his rookie year.

BEST VALUE PICK: OLB Jaylon Ferguson, 2019 (Round 3, No. 85). He’s a physical player with a high motor vs. the run and pass, while showing the ability to get push on the pocket.

DEFINITIVE TRAIT/STYLE: The Ravens‘ philosophy under Ozzie Newsome, whom DeCosta worked under since 2003 until Newsome’s retirement after the 2018 season, has several layers and DeCosta continues to carry this vision out. The Ravens simply take the best player available, acquire as many picks as possible and draft productive, experienced players who have size, speed, play hard all the time and fit the culture and scheme. An example of this is Matt Judon, who was acquired in 2016 with a fifth-round pick Baltimore received in a trade with Jacksonville. He was a highly productive pass rusher in college as a defensive end but was a good fit for Baltimore as a SAM. And although the Ravens drafted several pass rushers/LBs prior to Judon that year, he fit in with Baltimore perfectly. On Day 2 or 3 of the draft, the Ravens won’t factor need into the equation unless two sought-after players have the same grade. With nine picks in this year’s draft, expect DeCosta to be busy.

Buffalo Bills: Brandon Beane

Year hired: 2017
Number of players drafted: 16
List of Pro Bowlers: 1. LB Tremaine Edmunds

BEST PICK: MLB Tremaine Edmunds, 2018 (Round 1, No. 16 overall). The leader of Sean McDermott’s defense, Edmunds is very good in coverage against running backs and tight ends, and he led the Bills with 119 tackles last season.

BEST VALUE PICK: RB Devin Singletary, 2019 (Round 3, No. 74). Averaging 5.1 yards per carry last season (fourth in the league), Singletary was a change-of-pace running back with excellent start and stop ability.

DEFINITIVE TRAIT/STYLE: Beane uses free agency to fill as many holes as possible, so the Bills don’t have to draft for need. He believes in taking the best player on the board through the first half of the draft before filling any remaining needs in the later rounds.

Carolina Panthers: Marty Hurney

Year hired: 2002-2012, 2018-present
Number of players drafted: 105
List of Pro Bowlers: 11. DE Julius Peppers, T Jordan Gross, TE Thomas Davis, RB DeAngelo Williams, C Ryan Kalil, LB Jon Beason, RB Jonathan Stewart, DE Greg Hardy, QB Cam Newton, CB Josh Norman, LB Luke Kuechly.

BEST PICK: MLB Luke Kuechly, 2012 (Round 1, No. 9 overall). Kuechly was the best middle linebacker in the game for a majority of his shortened career. The QB of the Panthers‘ defense had outstanding instincts vs. the run and pass, and his ability to cover tight ends and running backs helped land him on the first-team All-Pro list five times.

BEST VALUE PICK: CB Josh Norman, 2012 (Round 5, No. 143). There was a period when Norman was the one of the premier cornerbacks in the league, playing a major role in Carolina’s run to Super Bowl 50.

DEFINITIVE TRAIT/STYLE: The hiring of head coach Matt Rhule presents a new situation for Hurney, but the GM has shown the ability to work well with head coaches in the past. He believes in obtaining a franchise quarterback (Teddy Bridgewater) then building to protect him — thus, the trade for Russell Okung earlier this offseason. With his early draft picks, Hurney puts emphasis on the numbers (height, weight, speed and other testing numbers), which should mesh well with Rhule’s belief in good testing (as well as intelligence). At Baylor, Rhule emphasized recruiting players with high athletic skills and expected his coaches to develop them.

Chicago Bears: Ryan Pace

Year hired: 2015
Number of players drafted: 32
List of Pro Bowlers: 5. RB Jordan Howard, G Cody Whitehair, RB Tarik Cohen, S Eddie Jackson, QB Mitch Trubisky.

BEST PICK: LB Roquan Smith, 2018 (Round 1, No. 8 overall). He is the complete package as a linebacker who has the speed to cover sideline to sideline and excels vs. the run.

BEST VALUE PICK: G/C Cody Whitehair, 2016 (Round 2, No. 56). He is a smart player who can make the calls for the unit. Most important, he hasn’t missed a start since he was drafted.

DEFINITIVE TRAIT/STYLE: There seems to be a very close working relationship between Pace and head coach Matt Nagy. It is a collaborative effort between those two, scouts and coaches, and all must agree on how the player’s skill set fits into the scheme. The organization believes in being aggressive to acquire players, including when they traded draft picks for Khalil Mack, traded up for safety Eddie Jackson and back for OL Cody Whitehair. Those were all good trades for the Bears, and the jury is still out on the Mitch Trubisky trade.

Cincinnati Bengals: Mike Brown

Year hired: 1991
Number of players drafted: 258
List of Pro Bowlers: 16. DT Geno Atkins, WR A.J. Green, WR Chad Johnson, QB Andy Dalton, WR T.J. Houshmandzade, T Willie Anderson, T Andrew Whitworth, RB Corey Dillon, DE Carlos Dunlap, WR Carl Pickens, TE Jermaine Gresham, QB Carson Palmer, RB Rudi Johnson, DB Tremain Mack, TE Tyler Eifert.

BEST PICK: WR A.J. Green, 2011 (Round 1, No. 4 overall). He’s been one of the best wideouts of his era. Green, a seven-time Pro Bowler, can beat any defender deep and demands to be double covered.

BEST VALUE PICK: DT Geno Atkins, 2010 (Round 4, No. 120). Atkins has consistently been an explosive interior player who teams had to double in pass protection. He’s very quick and disruptive against the run. It’s no wonder Atkins is an eight-time Pro Bowler, two-time first-team All-Pro and has 75.5 sacks (most in the NFL by DT since 2010).

DEFINITIVE TRAIT/STYLE: Although Brown will make the final decision on draft selections, he will work closely with head coach Zac Taylor and personnel executive Bill Tobin along with the rest of the coaches and scouts on staff to arrive at the pick. The Bengals often draft based on need but at the right value. Last year, they didn’t waste time filling their top need of offensive tackle by drafting Jonah Williams at No. 11 overall. That said, they will not ignore taking the best player available — evidenced when they drafted Andrew Whitworth in 2006 when they had two good tackles already in place (Willie Anderson and Levi Jones. Another trait Cincy has put more emphasis on over the years is character.

Cleveland Browns: Andrew Berry

Year hired: 2020
Number of players drafted: 0
List of Pro Bowlers: 0.

DEFINITIVE TRAIT/STYLE: Berry is approaching his first draft as a GM after having a successful free agency. Berry has experience with analytics (with the Eagles and Browns) and traditional scouting methods. I expect him to combine those methods and work closely with new HC Kevin Stefanski to draft players to fit this new era in Cleveland.

Dallas Cowboys: Jerry Jones

Year hired: 1989
Number of players drafted: 279
List of Pro Bowlers: 36. QB Troy Aikman, RB Emmitt Smith, T Erik Williams, S Darren Woodson, G Larry Allen, S Roy Williams, TE Jason Witten, DE Jay Ratliff, LB DeMarcus Ware, WR Dez Bryant, LB Sean Lee, T Tyron Smith, RB DeMarco Murray, C Travis Frederick, G Zack Martin, RB Ezekiel Elliott, QB Dak Prescott, G Larry Allen, DB Darren Woodson, DB Roy Williams, G Andre Gurode, T Flozell Adams, LB Dexter Coakley, C Mark Stepnoski, DE DeMarcus Lawrence, RB Daryl Johnston, DT Leon Lett, K Nick Folk, DB Mike Jenkins, DT Russell Maryland, OLB Leighton Vander Esch, DE Greg Ellis, DE Jason Hatcher, DE Anthony Spencer, CB Byron Jones, DE Tony Tolbert.

BEST PICK: RB Emmitt Smith, 1990 (Round 1, No. 17 overall). Smith was a highly instinctive and physical runner who was tough to tackle. His production and leadership made him the heart of those great Cowboys teams.

BEST VALUE PICK: G Larry Allen, 1994 (Round 2, No. 46). A small-school prospect who was the best offensive guard in the NFL during his era, Allen dominated as a run-blocker. He now resides in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

DEFINITIVE TRAIT/STYLE: Jerry Jones’ philosophy is to take the best player available. An example of that was when the Cowboys drafted Zack Martin at No. 16 overall in 2014. They were set to stack up on defense early on, but the defensive players who they wanted in that spot were off the board. So, Jones and the Cowboys went with Martin rather than reaching for their top need of a D-lineman. Jones does a good job of including coaches and scouts in the evaluation and draft process.

Denver Broncos: John Elway

Year hired: 2011
Number of players drafted: 61
List of Pro Bowlers: 1. WR Courtland Sutton (alternate).

BEST PICK: DT Malik Jackson, 2012 (Round 5, No. 137 overall). He’s a disruptive interior player who was versatile enough to play DT in the 4-3 defense and DE in the 3-4 defense.

BEST VALUE PICK: LB Danny Trevathan, 2012 (Round 6, No. 188). A very productive player on the second level, Trevathan has great instincts against the run and pass and played faster than his speed.

DEFINITIVE TRAIT/STYLE: Elway works closely with his staff to make sure the players they draft fit their offensive and defensive schemes. The Broncos aim to fill needs with the best player available and seem to value OT, pass rusher and CB early in the draft. That said, Elway is unlikely to pass on a highly graded player no matter the position. The Broncos took Courtland Sutton in the second round when their WR corps was still intact because he had a first-round grade.

Detroit Lions: Bob Quinn

Year hired: 2016
Number of players drafted: 34
List of Pro Bowlers: 1. WR Kenny Golladay.

BEST PICK: C Frank Ragnow, 2018 (Round 1, No. 20 overall). A center with Pro Bowl potential, Ragnow is a strong run-blocker, good pass-blocker and can get movement from the nose tackle.

BEST VALUE PICK: WR Kenny Golladay, 2017 (Round 3, No. 96). At 6-foot-4, 214 pounds, Golladay is very good at winning contested catches and is a dangerous deep threat to win against smaller corners. He emerged as the team’s WR1 early on, prompting the Lions to trade away Golden Tate for value.

DEFINITIVE TRAIT/STYLE: Under Quinn, the Lions put a high importance on character with their top picks, leading some to believe they are too conservative with their early selections and others to say they have been smart. Needs definitely weigh heavily on their early picks and there is a definite emphasis on building strong offensive and defensive lines, while special teams factor into middle- and late-round selections (2016 fourth-rounder Miles Killebrew, 2017 fourth-rounder Jalen Reeves-Maybin).

Green Bay Packers: Brian Gutekunst

Year hired: 2018
Number of players drafted: 19
List of Pro Bowlers: 0.

BEST PICK: CB Jaire Alexander, 2018 (Round 1, No. 18 overall). He boasts excellent cover skills and doesn’t back down against any receiver. He had a phenomenal rookie campaign with 28 passes defensed (T-seventh in the NFL) and followed it up with a solid second season.

BEST VALUE PICK: G Elgton Jenkins, 2019 (Round 2, No. 44). Another lineman with Pro Bowl potential, Jenkins is a physical player with a high football IQ who protected Aaron Rodgers well in his first NFL season.

DEFINITIVE TRAIT/STYLE: Gutekunst has continued the draft philosophy of former GM Ron Wolf, which is to take the best player available over need. The more quality players you have the better the team will be. Gutekunst has done a good job of addressing needs in free agency, signing pass rushers Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith last offseason, which allowed him to take the top player on their board at No. 12 (Rashan Gary) instead of stretching to fill needs. Gutekunst won’t pass on a highly rated player even if the position isn’t an immediate need. One other aspect of his philosophy — valuing competitiveness — was exhibited when he took CB Zaire Alexander a year after drafting Kevin King with the team’s first pick.

Houston Texans: Bill O’Brien

Year hired: 2020 as GM
Number of players drafted: 0
List of Pro Bowlers: 0.

DEFINITIVE TRAIT/STYLE: O’Brien’s situation is unique. He was named the official GM this offseason after being the Texans‘ de facto GM in June 2019 following the firing of Brian Gaine. He’s had a hand in Houston’s draft activity since he was hired in 2014, though, but this is the first year in which he will make the definitive draft decisions. But since his arrival in Houston, the Texans‘ philosophy when building a team in the draft or free agency has been highlighted by an aggressive approach. O’Brien will target a need and fill it by trading for good players (Laremy Tunsil trade in exchange for two first-rounders) or move up in the draft (trading up for Watson in 2017 and Fuller in 2016).

Indianapolis Colts: Chris Ballard

Year hired: 2017
Number of players drafted: 29
List of Pro Bowlers: 2. G Quenton Nelson, LB Darius Leonard.

BEST PICK: G Quenton Nelson, 2018 (Round 1, No. 6 overall). One of the best college offensive linemen I ever scouted, Nelson is a mauler on a premier unit. He’s tough, finishes blocks and excels as a run and pass blocker. Simply put, Nelson can do it all.

BEST VALUE PICK: LB Darius Leonard, 2018 (Round 2, No. 36). Leonard, who established himself as a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate, is very instinctive and has the speed to make plays on the outside.

DEFINITIVE TRAIT/STYLE: Ballard looks for players with the physical traits to play the position of need and those who have a good football IQ and high character. The best example was taking guard Quenton Nelson sixth overall in 2018, but Ballard’s last three first-round picks have followed this same blueprint (Nelson, safety Malik Hooker and center Ryan Kelly).

Jacksonville Jaguars: Dave Caldwell

Year hired: 2013
Number of players drafted: 53
List of Pro Bowlers: 6. LB Telvin Smith, WR Allen Robinson, DE Yannick Ngakoue, CB Jalen Ramsey, WR D.J. Chark, DE Josh Allen.

BEST PICK: CB Jalen Ramsey, 2016 (Round 1, No. 5 overall). The lone All-Pro drafted in the Caldwell era, Ramsey is a true CB1 who dominates every time he steps on the field. There’s been a clear void in Jacksonville since Ramsey was traded midway through 2019.

BEST VALUE PICK: DE Yannick Ngakoue, 2016 (Round 3, No. 69). He’s an excellent pass rusher who’s established himself as a force year in and year out. Ngakoue has logged at least eight sacks in each of his four NFL seasons.

DEFINITIVE TRAIT/STYLE: Caldwell has tried to fill a need with the best player available and in doing so, he targets players who fill the height, weight and speed requirements for the position, along with having good character and being coachable. The Jags won’t ignore the best available player on the board even if they don’t immediately need the position. Look at last year’s draft: The Jags took DE Josh Allen in the first round when they already had two great DEs in Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell. They then selected RT Jamaal Taylor in the second round to fill a need.

Kansas City Chiefs: Brett Veach

Year hired: 2017
Number of players drafted: 12
List of Pro Bowlers: 1. KR Mecole Hardman.

BEST PICK: S Juan Thornhill, 2019 (Round 2, No. 63 overall). Since Veach was not the Chiefs GM during the 2017 draft, Patrick Mahomes isn’t in play here. Thornhill played all 16 regular-season games as a rookie, recording 57 tackles and a trio of picks.

BEST VALUE PICK: WR Mecole Hardman, 2019 (Round 2, No. 56). The receiver/returner showed a lot of promise as a rookie. He has good hands, quickness to create separation and breakaway speed.

DEFINITIVE TRAIT/STYLE: Veach and Andy Reid have always valued OTs, QBs, pass rushers and CBs dating back to their days in Philadelphia. In Kansas City, they drafted OL Eric Fisher first overall in 2013, DT Chris Jones with their first pick in 2016 and traded up for QB Patrick Mahomes in 2017. Addressing glaring needs in free agency allows the Chiefs to draft the best player available. Last year, they took Hardman in the second round when they were set at WR then came back to select Thornhill in the second round after they had just signed Tyrann Mathieu in free agency.

Las Vegas Raiders: Mike Mayock

Year hired: 2019
Number of players drafted: 9
List of Pro Bowlers: 0.

BEST PICK: RB Josh Jacobs, 2019 (Round 1, No. 24 overall). An Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate, Jacobs showed he is a strong inside runner with very good instincts in Year 1.

BEST VALUE PICK: DE Maxx Crosby, 2019 (Round 4, No. 106). He finished with 10 sacks in his rookie season thanks to his quickness and effort. Crosby is active as a pass rusher and can set the edge vs. the run.

DEFINITIVE TRAIT/STYLE: In the first Mayock/Jon Gruden draft, there was a strong emphasis on filling team needs. They also took several Clemson products, which it isn’t uncommon for teams to favor players from certain programs or stay away from others. The Clemson program values players who invest in the little things, are focused and demand and appreciate accountability.

Los Angeles Chargers: Tom Telesco

Year hired: 2013
Number of players drafted: 46
List of Pro Bowlers: 5. S Derwin James, DE Joey Bosa, RB Melvin Gordon, CB Jason Verrett, WR Keenan Allen.

BEST PICK: DE Joey Bosa, 2017 (Round 1, No. 3 overall). Bosa has battled some injuries early in his career, but there’s no replacing what he can do on the field. He’s a tone-setter for the Chargers‘ defense and has gotten home 40 times in four seasons.

BEST VALUE PICK: WR Keenan Allen, 2013 (Round 3, No. 76). He’s an excellent route runner with great hands — exactly the type of player quarterbacks love. Chosen as the 2017 Comeback Player of the Year and a three-time Pro Bowler, Allen has certainly outplayed his draft position.

DEFINITIVE TRAIT/STYLE: The goal is to build a team that is smart, fast and physical and built through the draft and will supplement through free agency. Often blending traditional scout evaluations with data/numbers.

Los Angeles Rams: Les Snead

Year hired: 2012
Number of players drafted: 70
List of Pro Bowlers: 5. QB Jared Goff, RS Pharoh Cooper, RB Todd Gurley, DT Aaron Donald, K Greg Zuerlein.

BEST PICK: DT Aaron Donald, 2004 (Round 1, No. 13 overall). He’s been one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL for most of his career, earning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors and back-to-back DPOY awards in ’17 and ’18. Donald is best as a pass rusher with excellent quickness and penetration to win one-on-one — and even two-on-one — matchups.

BEST VALUE PICK: PK Greg Zuerlein, 2012 (Round 6, No. No. 171). Zuerlein is a very accurate kicker with a strong leg, which is where he got his nickname “Greg The Leg.” He’s missed a mere six PATs in eight seasons.

DEFINITIVE TRAIT/STYLE: Snead and his staff have a clear vision of what they are looking for in a player and team, and they value building a team, not collecting talent. It’s imperative that coaches communicate what type of players are useful so scouts can identify them leading up to the draft. Snead is flexible and able to adapt his method when necessary and often stays ahead of the curve when the NFL changes or the Rams change coordinators and/or schemes. He has also been aggressive when necessary (i.e. Trading up for the first overall pick to get Jared Goff).

Miami Dolphins: Chris Grier

Year hired: 2016
Number of players drafted: 29
List of Pro Bowlers: 1. CB Xavien Howard.

BEST PICK: T Laremy Tunsil, 2016 (Round 1, No. 13 overall). I think Minkah Fitzpatrick is a better player at his position, but I have to go with Tunsil due to several factors. He is a good pass-blocking tackle, which was widely known leading up to the 2016 draft. On draft night, a video surfaced that caused Tunsil to fall and give credit to Grier for stopping the slide. Grier was right in his decision as Tunsil turned out to be a good player in Miami, then turned around to trade him to Houston for a bonanza of picks. It’s those factors that led to choosing Tunsil.

BEST VALUE PICK: CB Xavien Howard, 2016 (Round 2, No. 38). With length, speed and physical play, Howard excels in press coverage against top receivers and has emerged as a playmaker.

DEFINITIVE TRAIT/STYLE: When looking at Brian Flores’ background and Grier’s history in scouting, here is what I see: This crew will take the best player available and characteristics such as intelligence, mental and physical toughness and love of the game are important, along with position versatility. They have worked hard to build a good defense through free agency, and I believe they will still target defense in the draft but almost every position on offense is a huge need right now. That will factor in.

Minnesota Vikings: Rick Spielman

Year hired: 2006
Number of players drafted: 120
List of Pro Bowlers: 16. RB Dalvin Cook, DE Danielle Hunter, LB Eric Kendricks, LB Anthony Barr, QB Teddy Bridgewater, WR Cordarrelle Patterson, CB Xavier Rhodes, S Harrison Smith, T Matt Kalil, K Blair Walsh, TE Kyle Rudolph, DE Everson Griffen, WR Percy Harvin, RB Adrian Peterson, WR Sidney Rice, LB Chad Greenway.

BEST PICK: RB Adrian Peterson, 2007 (Round 1, No. 7 overall). A future Hall of Famer, Peterson was the best running back in the NFL for an extended period of time, and he’s still playing well in his mid-30s. He’s made a helluva career, including winning the league MVP award in 2012 when he rushed for 2,000 yards in a season, out of being an extremely physical runner who often breaks long runs.

BEST VALUE PICK: DE Everson Griffen, 2010 (Round 4, No. 100). This was a tough choice between Griffen and Stefon Diggs, a fifth-round draft pick, but I went with the DE because he’s a complete player. Coordinators had to routinely game plan to stop him as a pass rusher and vs. the run. The veteran has recorded 8-plus sacks in six of his 10 NFL seasons.

DEFINITIVE TRAIT/STYLE: Spielman and the Vikings take the best player available and stay true to their board. Though their drafts have favored the defense, that hasn’t been by design with Mike Zimmer as head coach. Some of their best players drafted on defense were Smith, Griffen and Rhodes, who were all in Minnesota when Zimmer arrived. Examples of the Vikings taking the best player available over a team need are when they drafted TE Irv Smith when they had Rudolph or when they drafted CB Mike Hughes when they had Rhodes and Trae Waynes.

New England Patriots: Bill Belichick

Year hired: 2000
Number of players drafted: 176
List of Pro Bowlers: 16. QB Tom Brady, TE Rob Gronkowski, G Logan Mankins, DE Richard Seymour, ST Matthew Slater, DT Vince Wilfork, K Stephen Gostowski, T Matt Light, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Dont’a Hightower, DB Brandon Meriweather, DB Devin McCourty, DB Asante Samuel, DE Chandler Jones, C Dan Koppen, LB Jamie Collins.

BEST PICK: QB Tom Brady, 2000 (Round 6, No. 199 overall). How could it not be Tom Brady? He’s a six-time Super Bowl champion and maybe the best QB in the history of the game. He’s an excellent leader who has great pocket presence, vision and work ethic. With those traits, it’s no coincidence he’s accomplished all that he has.

BEST VALUE PICK: TE Rob Gronkowski, 2010 (Round 2, No. 42). Named to NFL Network’s All-Time Team, Gronk is a complete tight end who was a nightmare matchup for defenses and dominating blocker. He was a four-time first-team All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowler in his career, and his absence was sure felt in 2019.

DEFINITIVE TRAIT/STYLE: Belichick will take an aggressive approach in the draft by either trading up for a player (Chandler Jones, Dont’a Hightower) or trading back to collect picks. Being a defensive coach — well, and having the luxury of having the same QB for 20 years — Belichick often favors defensive players early on but won’t ignore taking the best player available even if the player isn’t projected to start on Day 1 (Sony Michel, Nate Solder). In the middle and late rounds, special teams ability factors heavily into decision.

New Orleans Saints: Mickey Loomis

Year hired: 2002
Number of players drafted: 115
List of Pro Bowlers: 17. T Jahri Evans, DE Cameron Jordan, WR Michael Thomas, RB Alvin Kamara, TE Jimmy Graham, CB Marshon Lattimore, T Terron Armstead, T Ryan Ramczyk, T Andrus Peat, RB Mark Ingram, T Carl Nicks, T Jammal Brown, G LeCharles Bentley, T Jon Stinchcomb, P Thomas Morstead, DE Will Smith, T Jermon Bushrod.

BEST PICK: WR Michael Thomas, 2016 (Round 2, No. 47 overall). This was a tough decision between Thomas and Cameron Jordan, who’s been the leader of the Saints‘ defense since he was drafted. But Thomas is so dependable as a big receiver who uses his physicality and route running to any corner.

BEST VALUE PICK: T Jahri Evans, 2006 (Round 4, No. 108). He was a dominant run blocker and someone who could set the pocket on pass protection, earning six Pro Bowl nominations in his career.

DEFINITIVE TRAIT/STYLE: For New Orleans, a prospect must be the right kind of player and one that fits in well in the locker room. Intelligence and toughness — both mental and physical — are highly valued, and there must be a clear plan from the scouting and coaching staff on how to use the player. Last year, the staff, including Loomis and Sean Payton, who work together closely when making personnel decisions, had to be convinced defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson fit into the locker room. The Saints took him in the fourth round and it has turned out to be a good decision, as he played in all 16 games as a rookie. With the Saints being a perennial contender, their high picks fill immediate voids (RT Ryan Ramczyk in 2018).

New York Giants: Dave Gettleman

Year hired: 2018 (2013-17 with Carolina Panthers)
Number of players drafted: 16 (28 with Panthers)
List of Pro Bowlers: 4 total. Giants: RB Saquon Barkley; Panthers: DT Kawann Short, G Trai Turner, RB Christian McCaffrey.

BEST PICK: RB Christian McCaffrey, 2017 (Round 1, No. 8 overall). His size was a concern coming out of the draft but that hasn’t been an issue in his first three seasons. McCaffrey is equally effective as a runner and versatile receiver who can line up in the slot or out wide. He’s become the center of Carolina’s offense and embraces that role.

BEST VALUE PICK: G Trai Turner, 2014 (Round 3, No. 92). Turner uses his excellent size as a strong anchor vs. the pass rush, and he’s been a key part of the Panthers‘ offensive success over the last half-decade.

DEFINITIVE TRAIT/STYLE: In analyzing the Giants‘ vision for this year’s draft, I am merging Gettleman’s philosophies and how first-year head coach Joe Judge, formerly an offensive coach for the Patriots, might approach it. For years, the Giants‘ philosophy has been to take the best player available and as Gettleman says, “Don’t draft hungry.” That should easily fit into this year’s draft as they need an offensive tackle, and there will be a good one available when they pick fourth overall. This first pick will set the tone for the kind of player the new-era Giants want to have going forward.

Gettleman has always believed in size up front to build strong offensive and defensive lines. A few points to look at from Judge’s history with New England are putting an emphasis on special teams on Days 2 and 3 and drafting to fill specific needs (a player who can match up with an opponent). We may not see this this year since the Giants have so many needs to fill.

New York Jets: Joe Douglas

Year hired: 2019
Number of players drafted: 0
List of Pro Bowlers: 0.

DEFINITIVE TRAIT/STYLE: Douglas was hired after the 2019 draft, so this is his first. It’s logical to assume Douglas could imply some philosophies of the Eagles and Ravens — teams he has experience with — to rebuild the Jets. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Jets bulk up their offensive and defensive lines with starters and depth, and trade back to pick up more selections in the middle rounds

Philadelphia Eagles: Howie Roseman

Year hired: 2010
Number of players drafted: 80
List of Pro Bowlers: 6. C Jason Kelce, QB Nick Foles, DT Fletcher Cox, TE Zach Ertz, T Lane Johnson, QB Carson Wentz.

BEST PICK: DT Fletcher Cox, 2012 (Round 1, No. 12 overall). When playing the Eagles, offensive coordinators have to build game plans around him. He’s a player who must be double-teamed as he can beat anyone one-on-one with his quickness and strength.

BEST VALUE PICK: TE Zach Ertz, 2013 (Round 2, No. 35). The three-time Pro Bowler has established himself in the upper echelon of the position over the last three (or so) years. He’s a mismatch nightmare and a huge reason the Eagles have settled in at the top of the division of late.

DEFINITIVE TRAIT/STYLE: Roseman often eyes offensive tackles and pass rushers early in the draft, while also being aggressive to get the player he and the team wanted when necessary, including trading up for QB Carson Wentz in 2016 and OT Andre Dillard last year. Since 2010, the Eagles have found big, athletic players — Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Lane Johnson, Derek Barnett and Dillard — in the first round and it’s paid off. There is also the belief that if they draft solely on need, they’ll miss out on some great talent. A great example of drafting the best player available when they didn’t need him was taking TE Dallas Goedert in the second round in 2018, even with Ertz playing extremely well.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Kevin Colbert

Year hired: 2000
Number of players drafted: 161
List of Pro Bowlers: 19. S Troy Polamalu, C Maurkice Pouncey, WR Antonio Brown, QB Ben Roethlisberger, G David DeCastro, DT Casey Hampton, WR Mike Wallace, DE Cam Heyward, RB Le’Veon Bell, LB T.J. Watt, LB Ryan Shazier, TE Heath Miller, JuJu Smith-Schuster, LB Lawrence Timmons, RB James Conner, DE LaMarr Woodley, LB Kendrell Bell, DE Brett Keisel, T Marvel Smith.

BEST PICK: S Troy Polamalu, 2003 (Round 1, No. 16 overall). A first-ballot Hall of Famer, who will be enshrined in August, Polamalu was famous for “free lancing” and was right more often than not. He set the tone for the Steelers‘ defense for years and helped them to two Lombardis.

BEST VALUE PICK: WR Antonio Brown, 2010 (Round 6, No. 195). Before being traded to the Raiders, Brown worked his way up the ranks to become the most explosive and top receiver in the NFL for a six-year span during which he scored 67 receiving TDs.

DEFINITIVE TRAIT/STYLE: The best draft in Steelers‘ history was 1974, which produced four Hall of Famers and a Hall of Fame free agent in Donnie Shell. This draft was done with no NFL Scouting Combine, pro days or physicals, rather with great decisions made by a great group that included Art Rooney Jr., Bill Nun, Dick Haley and coach Chuck Noll. Based on the fact that Colbert and the Steelers continue to put great emphasis on their scouts’ opinions and a close working relationship with the head coach. One thing is for sure, the Steelers will not pass on a great player even if the need isn’t immediate. The Steelers drafted TE Heath Miller in the first round without him ever being timed or having a pro day as he was recovering from sports hernia surgery. To Miller’s credit, and the Steelers‘ staff, he had a great NFL career.

San Francisco 49ers: John Lynch

Year hired: 2017
Number of players drafted: 27
List of Pro Bowlers: 2. TE George Kittle, DE Nick Bosa.

BEST PICK: DE Nick Bosa, 2019 (Round 1, No. 2 overall). Bosa turned out to be a dominant force vs. the run and pass. The Defensive Rookie of the Year demands to be double-teamed and headlined San Francisco’s premier D-line throughout the season.

BEST VALUE PICK: TE George Kittle, 2017 (Round 5, No. 146). He’s the best tight end in the game right now because of his ability to beat one-on-one coverage and his incredible blocking.

DEFINITIVE TRAIT/STYLE: Lynch and Kyle Shanahan work well together with a philosophy centered around drafting players that fit their schemes. The defensive scheme relies heavily upon the front four, which is why they have prioritized going after defensive linemen high in the draft, DBs after the first round and linebackers in the middle rounds. The offensive scheme is a little more complex with O-linemen athletic enough to block in a zone scheme, pass catchers with speed and mid-to-late-round running backs. Having worked with both Shanahan and DC Robert Saleh in Houston, I know how much they emphasize intelligence, work ethic and toughness in their football players.

Seattle Seahawks: John Schneider

Year hired: 2010
Number of players drafted: 97
List of Pro Bowlers: 10. QB Russell Wilson, LB Bobby Wagner, S Earl Thomas, CB Richard Sherman, S Kam Chancellor, WR Tyler Lockett, P Michael Dickson, DB Shaquill Griffin, LB K.J. Wright, T Russell Okung.

BEST PICK: QB Russell Wilson, 2012 (Round 3, No. 75). the six-time Pro Bowler has shown from Day 1 that he can beat you from the pocket and outside of it as a passer, especially in a two-minute drill. His greatest asset, though, is his ability to use his legs to extend plays.

BEST VALUE PICK: CB Richard Sherman, 2011 (Round 5, No. 154). Sherman has been one of the premier CBs of this decade as a very good press corner who has an excelled feel for coverage as a zone CB, as well.

DEFINITIVE TRAIT/STYLE: Schneider and the Seahawks take the best player available but will also address team needs early on, take some risks if necessary and think outside the box. He’s been very good at finding quality players in the middle rounds (Sherman, Chancellor, Wilson), and the reason for that is the coaches buy into the players’ upside. Obviously, everyone wants big, long, fast, smart and ultra-competitive players but that’s not how it works. But Seattle has put out a competitive team year in and year out by emphasizing the positives of each player’s skill set and relying on coaches to coach and develop them.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jason Licht

Year hired: 2014
Number of players drafted: 42
List of Pro Bowlers: 4. WR Mike Evans, LB Kwon Alexander, QB Jameis Winston, WR Chris Godwin.

BEST PICK: WR Mike Evans, 2014 (Round 1, No. 7 overall). The 6-foot-5 wideout is so hard to stop because of his size, speed and hands. He’s been consistently great with up-and-down quarterback play, logging at least 1,000 receiving yards in every one of his six NFL seasons.

BEST VALUE PICK: LB Kwon Alexander, 2015 (Round 4, No. 124 overall). A true run-and-chase linebacker, Alexander is highly instinctive and was a solid player and leader for the Bucs’ D for four seasons.

DEFINITIVE TRAIT/STYLE: With Licht, the Bucs’ top priority in a prospect is high character guys who truly love the game. True examples of that are Evans and linebacker Devin White.

Tennessee Titans: Jon Robinson

Year hired: 2016
Number of players drafted: 29
List of Pro Bowlers: 2. S Kevin Byard, RB Derrick Henry.

BEST PICK: RB Derrick Henry, 2016 (Round 2, No. No. 45 overall). Henry has developed into one of the best backs in the NFL. He’s a strong power runner who has long speed, qualities that have helped him absolutely dominate defenses over the past two seasons.

BEST VALUE PICK: S Kevin Byard, 2016 (Round 3, No. 64). He’s a complete safety who has earned his respect though his ability to force turnovers. The 2017 first-team All-Pro has 17 career interceptions (all in the last three seasons) and can hold his own vs. any tight end.

DEFINITIVE TRAIT/STYLE:The Titans have been aggressive in trading up or back when necessary. With their first pick in the 2016, they traded back to acquire multiple second-round picks — with which they drafted Derrick Henry. In the same draft, Tennessee also traded up to draft tackle Jack Conklin. Their aggressiveness isn’t just in trades but in taking risks like drafting DL Jeffrey Simmons, who was recovering from a major injury and whose playing status uncertain. Players drafted by the Titans must be tough, smart and willing to buy into a team-first culture.

Washington Redskins: No general manager

Year hired: Dan Snyder era began in May 1999
Number of players drafted since ’99: 157
List of Pro Bowlers: 12. LB LaVar Arrington, T Chris Samuels, S Sean Taylor, TE Chris Cooley, LB Brian Orakpo, T Trent Williams, LB Ryan Kerrigan, RB Alfred Morris, QB Kirk Cousins, QB Robert Griffin III, TE Jordan Reed, G Brandon Scherff.

BEST PICK: OT Chris Samuels, 2000 (Round 1, No. 3). A six-time Pro Bowler who was one of the best players at his position during his career, Samuels was a consistent run and pass blocker, and had the ability to block top pass rushers one-on-one.

BEST VALUE PICK: QB Kirk Cousins, 2012 (Round 4, No. 102). Anytime you can get a quarterback in the fourth round who throws for over 4,000 yards in three straight seasons, that’s great value.

DEFINITIVE TRAIT/STYLE: The Redskins have some time to build this team and won’t likely force picks in this year’s draft. The goal is to bring in team-oriented impact players who fill needs in the first three rounds. Because Washington has a number of needs so it’ll continue to take the best player in each round of the draft. The Redskins will use the middle rounds to draft players who can grow into role players or starters, add depth and special teamers. They look for characteristics such as athleticism, football IQ and willingness to take ownership, which is the hardest trait to figure out about a prospect.

Follow Charley Casserly on Twitter @CharleyCasserly.

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