Thursday, 17 December 2009

If not Holmgren, Who?

By Kyle Rota...
"If not Holmgren, who?" is a pretty common question in Seahawks Nation. While it's extremely difficult to know who is a riser and who is not, I've asked around and done a bit of research. By no means is this list comprehensive, but the names are highly recommended and have good track records. NOTE: The order is not ranked by preference, just by the order I remembered the names.

Steve Keim, Director of Player Personnel, Arizona Cardinals:
He played offensive line for NC State but never really made much impact professionally. He's a younger guy, mid-late thirties (graduated college in 1995). Gets a lot of credit for the big draft picks Arizona has made, has a really good reputation. The Cardinals are doing quite a bit with very little ownership support, so it might be worthwhile to see what he could do with the resources Seattle could offer. Articles I've read have painted him as good with people, which is of key importance IMO. He's never been "the man", working under Rod Graves, but most of the guys on my list are "fresh faces", just the way the recommendations turned out. Talks about not reaching for need as being a major philosophy, FWIW. The downside is that he bears a striking resemblance to Bill Bavasi.

Steve Malin, Scout, New York Giants:
Feel like taking a risk? Then Malin is your guy. The former scout I know says that Malin is "the best scout I know of". Another young guy (not sure on exact age, but saw a picture and he looks pretty young), he has a bit of a coaching background (very minor, SMU was the biggest name where he was an assistant coach). In truth, probably not the pick I choose just because there isn't much known about his ability to run a franchise. Supposedly extremely thorough and a hard worker, and if he is as competent at running a franchise as he is at scouting he could be a great pick. Sounds like a guy in need of a promotion, at least.

Lionel Vital, Assistant Director of Player Personnel, Atlanta Falcons:
So if you feel like finding a guy who has learned from the most successful franchises out there, Vital may be your man. This might be my favorite choice. He's a little risky as he hasn't had the experience of, say, Keim or some names further down the list. He's worked under Bill Belichick, Ozzie Newsome, Bill Parcels, Scott Pioli, and now Thomas Dmintroff. Vital has a lot of experience, played RB for a few years (never very good), heck he even played professional baseball. He's certainly had the opportunity to learn from the best, though some Seattle fans may hesitate to grab the "Next Big Thing" out of Atlanta. Haven't been able to find much in the way of articles, but he came very highly recommended. Has experience looking at players from a 4-3 and a 3-4 perspective, which I personally like as it means the team wouldn't be "locked" into one defensive mindset just because the GM has grown up with it (Ruskell and Tampa 2).

Eric DeCosta, Director of Player Personnel, Baltimore Ravens:
This is the "superstar" pick. DeCosta gets his name thrown out a lot, as far as these things are concerned. I'm not sure how keen Baltimore would be to let him get away, but you almost have to try to book an interview with him. He views OL, S, and RB as "easy" to scout in an interview he did, which is something we could use the help me. He's been with Baltimore since the Ravens/Browns moved there. Another younger guy, he's 38 or so if my math is decent. Baltimore doesn't always get their picks right, but they sure manage to get enough of them to remain relevant in most years.

Kevin Colbert, Director of Football Operations, Pittsburgh Steelers:
He's been running things for Pittsburgh for a while, so he has the experience. I wouldn't have put him on here except that, according to my source, he might be willing to relocate for a "President" role like Seattle gave Ruskell, even if it was largely just a glorified GM job. Pittsburgh speaks for itself and Colbert has been de-facto leader for years there, so he's more of a known quantity. (Mike Gorscak is another name from Pittsburgh, he's a scout there so very high risk, but my source seemed to have a high opinion of him)

Dave Razzano, Unemployed:
Formerly worked as a scout with the Arizona Cardinals. Has been in the NFL for 21 years before being fired this year by AZ. No idea why he was fired, bears looking into but good luck finding it online. Has the experience, pedigree (his father was a major pioneer in scouting), and the recommendation from my source. Not sure I'd be all over this move, but my source seemed to think he was a possibility when teams go looking for GMs, so I figured I'd include him.


Anonymous said...

It's a no-brainer. Vinny Cerrato!

kearly said...

Thanks for your hard work Mr. Rota. There really hasn't been a lot of well researched discussion for GM candidates, so this was helpful.

As far as the list itself, Fieldgulls had some harsh words for DeCosta, based on his draft history and how its not as great as people think. However, anyone that claims to have an eye for OL should be strongly considered. If his skill with S and RB means he avoids picking those positions high in the first round, I'd consider that a big plus as well.

Steve Keim does kind of look like a fat Bavasi. Actually, he looks like Jeff Bridges from Iron Man.

I'd hate for such a punchable face to be the face of the franchise for 5 years. That said, we really know almost nothing about GM hires until we gain hindsight, these hirings are so intensely luck based, its probably why a "devil we know" like Holmgren had so much appeal.

Jack Z was a last minute throw in to the list of GM finalists a year ago. Everyone thought it was just a "good old boy" nomination who satisfied Howard Lincoln's desire for an old-school scout type. When he was hired (to the surprise of almost everyone), people were initially disappointed because their preconceptions about Z were that he'd discard statistical analysis like Bavasi did and the result would be similar. As it turns out, within two months Z hired blogger/nerd/stat-expert Tom Tango to advise him, and Z-man has been nothing short of brilliant in his first year on the job.

Whoever gets hired, we just have to cross our fingers and hope for the best. Its not unlike a high draft pick, high risk/high reward. The guy who gets hired could end up being the next Bill Polian or he could be the next Matt Millen.

kearly said...

Ruston Webster is interviewing today. He was Ruskell's right hand man and head of scouting. He's philosophically almost identical to Ruskell, but considering the teams implied statements that they want a GM who fits their mold and their intentions to keep the coaching staff at least 1 more year, Webster becomes a surprisingly likely candidate for the job.

I'm not a total expert on Webster, but he did get some face time at last April when they did a series of "behind the draft" or something for each team. You might remember, that's when we saw Ruskell talking to his scouts about certain positions (no specific players were named). The teams updated depth chart was vaguely visible in the background, etc.

Anyway, the guy who did all the talking in that video was Webster. Ruskell asked Webster his feelings on the CB class, RB class, etc. I remember him saying it was a very good group of CB's in rounds 2 and 3, which is exactly how I felt as well (Sean Smith, etc).

Webster was articulate, well spoken, and direct. He has kind of a ruggedness to him, he would have fit right in at a poker table in a western. I don't have a lot of real information about Webster- other than the fact that he's largely responsible for the players the Seahawks have drafted, but I've definitely been given a good impression of him. He gives us TR's best attribute (scouting) with a possible mulligan on TR's flaws (bad people skills, general mis-management).

Right now, his interviewing could just be due-dilligence and nothing more, and while I think the franchise desperately needs a change of direction, it doesn't seem they are intent on doing that (told Holmgren "no thanks," have persistently used language that indicates sticking to coaches and system). If they truly are hell bent on sticking with the status quo, you could do a lot worse than Ruston Webster. He'd get a cautious thumbs up from me if he was hired.

Seth H. said...

How does your scout feel about Tom Heckert from the Eagles? I read about him from, and I must say, he's the guy I'm kinda rooting for.

Mark said...

Will Lewis (Seahawks Director of Pro Personnel) seems to have the experience. If he has the ability, it would make a great story.

I've read a little about Dave Gettleman from the Giants and he seems a suitable candidate from a winning organization.

Misfit said...

From that list I like Vital, Colbert, or DeCosta (probably in that order, too).

Good info and something I've been dying to read about.

Kyle, what are your opinions of Anthony Dixon and James Starks? I think both could be mid-round steals, though Spiller and Dwyer would top my RB wish-list.

Also, any word on if Mallett will declare? What do you think of John Skelton (QB, Fordham)?


Rotak said...

Sorry for the late response, been battling illness and yet I'm still working (weekend before Christmas + retail = no sick calls).

Anonymous - I have no comment, but you made me laugh. Thanks :)

Kearly - I like your take on Webster. It's an interesting one, far different than the largely negative ones I've heard. I admit, I'm not thrilled to take anyone from Seahawks FO, but maybe he's argued against some of the less fortunate Seahawk moves.

Seth H - He didn't mention him and I didn't ask, but I might try to call him next week and find out. Assuming I get any time off work before Christmas, which isn't certain.

Mark - I'm surprised Will Lewis hasn't had his name mentioned at all in any talks whatsoever. Maybe the league thinks he needs more seasoning or to serve a different role or something? Just hypothesizing. He seems to have a quality track record.

Misfit - I really want to grade Dixon, because he is my kind of back. Supposedly he had offers from the big schools and chose Miss State, and usually running backs who get lots of offers possess NFL speed (and sometimes nothing else), which is important for a power back. I know absolutely nothing about Starks.

I personally don't think Mallett will declare, and tall QBs are historically HUGE risks. Their mechanics have to be perfect at that height (small error = wild throw), usually they don't move their feet quickly enough, and they aren't usually as sturdy. I'd expect him to stay, but he could make a fair bit of money if he declared so it really depends on if he WANTS to leave Arkansas. He could help himself by staying, but if he needs the money or just isn't enjoying college life, he could bolt. It's really tough to tell with a guy like Mallett (or Locker) who aren't ready but possess the tools to get taken early anyways.

Misfit said...

Thanks for the feedback. :)

Ivy said...

Do you want more interesting?
Joe DeCamillis has been around a few kickers that have played a long time in the NFL Draft (Jason Elam, Morten Andersen) and he believes Nick Folk will be one of them, too.
The Cowboys cut Folk Monday after missing 10 field goal attempts this year and signed Shaun Suisham.
"He works his craft the way you're supposed to work it, so it was a difficult decision obviously," DeCamillis said. "You don't want to see anybody struggle and he was struggling. I think he even knew it. I've got the utmost respect for him, wouldn't surprise me if he started kicking well again the league. He just kind of went into a little funk and unfortunately we couldn't get him out of it. It's disappointing on my part because you hppe to do something to revive it and get him going in the right direction and it just didn't happen."
Merry Christmas!And have a good time!

Anonymous said...

What Minority candidates are available from the Rooney Rule standpoint?

I know the Hawks have to observe the Rooney Rule because they didn't name Ruskell's successor before his departure.