View Full Version : Article on AFC front offices and draft

the Talking Can
03-10-2005, 07:02 AM
This is lifted from chiefscoalition who ganked it from ESPN. Looks like our guys are kind of out of touch.

Successful NFL front offices are only as good as their personnel decision makers. There are many different ways to structure a front office, and Scouts Inc. has attempted to break down all 32 teams, dissecting the power structure.

The following breakdown takes you inside each AFC team's personnel department, examining differing philosophies and the process in which each final personnel decision is made

AFC West
Denver Broncos
Ted Sundquist: General manager
Mike Shanahan: Head coach
Although there seems to be a slight sense of urgency in Denver, in terms of improving the overall roster, the structure remains the same and this is still a two-man power team -- Mike Shanahan and Ted Sundquist.
Shanahan still has a lot of power when it comes to making decisions. If he has a knock, it's his perceived stubbornness and unwillingness to listen to others in the organization, but he is a shrewd talent evaluator and he really works at it.
Sundquist is a nice complement to Shanahan and is considered somewhat of a rising star in NFL front office ranks. He watches a lot of film, understands the salary cap and organizes his scouting department -- all without a big ego or a lot of flash.
Mike Bluem is the official capologist and does a nice job of helping Sundquist, but the Broncos have had serious salary-cap challenges the last couple of years.
Rick Smith is solid as director of pro personnel, being organized and a solid film guy. He does not scout future opponents -- which means all his concentration is with the Broncos.
Jim Goodman is a little unknown as director of college scouting outside the Broncos' organization, but inside their framework, he gets credit for doing a good job organizing the college scouts and helping Sundquist set the draft board. Their college scouts are a solid and experienced group with adequate input but minimal decision-making powers.
However, the assistant coaches might be another story. Shanahan has a lot of trust in veteran guys such as Rick Dennison, Larry Coyer and Gary Kubiak. They will have a voice in free agency and the draft, and their evaluation will get a solid audience with Shanahan and Sundquist. The Broncos are still height-, weight- and speed-oriented, and they tend to fall in love with great athletes and strong workout guys. However, they are thorough and very ambitious in developing cutting-edge technology in their front office, and they are not afraid to push the envelope.

Kansas City Chiefs
Carl Peterson: President/general manager/CEO
Dick Vermeil: Head coach
Lynn Stiles: Vice president of football operations/player personnel
Mike White: Director of football administration
Bill Kuharich: Director of pro personnel
If you are looking for a front office with a lot of veteran voice and no shortage of big titles, then the Chiefs might be your organization. At first glance, this is a very confusing group with all sorts of potential for jockeying for power, but this group has been together so long that it somehow seems to work. (yeah, right)
It starts with Carl Peterson, who is not really a film guy or a road scout but is in the mold of the administrator who gathers information, reads reports and checks with his sources, and he will make an informed decision.
Now we get into the confusing titles and roles. Lynn Stiles and Mike White have been with Dick Vermeil a long time and he really likes to bounce things off them, but neither watches a lot of tape or hits the road at this stage of his career. However, White is very effective at tapping his sources over the phone and getting a big-picture feel on where players rate, what their value is and how they fit the Chiefs' mold.
Bill Kuharich seems to be a little bit under the radar in this group, but he has GM qualities and is a guy who watches pro tape and runs a solid pro department. In fact, Kuharich doesn't scout future opponents but travels with the Chiefs instead, which is a little unusual for his role but allows him to be really on top of the Chiefs' roster.
Chuck Cook is an underrated director of college scouting. Although Cook does an excellent job of organizing the draft and delegating responsibilities to his scouts, there are a lot of layers between him and Vermeil, and he might not always have the draft voice he should.
This is an older group, and the challenge for the organization is to look at the present, which is Vermeil's focus, as well as the future, which has to be Peterson's focus. It might not look functional, but somehow this front office works.

Oakland Raiders
Al Davis: President/general partner
Mike Lombardi: Senior personnel executive
Norv Turner: Head coach
If stability and nonconformity can go hand in hand, then the Oakland front office will be a model of success. It is run in a cloud of secrecy and follows no normal NFL guidelines, in terms of structure, but it never changes and one thing is perfectly clear -- Al Davis is still in charge. The Raiders don't believe in titles, and from the outside their structure can seem confusing, but they are comfortable with it and change is not on the horizon.
Mike Lombardi is really the jack of all trades for the Raiders, as they never really replaced Bruce Allen, who left a year ago to join Tampa Bay. Lombardi runs pro personnel and gets heavily involved in the draft; he negotiates contracts, works closely on salary-cap issues and is never far from a Davis phone call. He works closely with the coaches and has as much power as anybody can in this organization; every personnel decision goes through Lombardi.
The Raiders have veteran scouts, and several ex-Raiders players are in the bunch. They know what Davis wants, and loyalty is no problem here. Guys such as Bruce Kebric, Mickey Marvin and David McCloughan have been around for a long time. They are thorough but not decision makers.
Davis likes his coaches, and he usually lets them have a significant voice. Veterans such as Fred Biletnikoff, Skip Peete, Jimmy Raye and ST coach Joe Avezzano have the ear of Davis and Lombardi.
In the Raiders' system, scouts gather information for the draft. Davis still runs all draft meetings, while most pro decisions are made by Lombardi, Davis and now Turner.
This also is an organization that still believes in athletic ability and speed. You will not see a lot of overachievers on Oakland's free agency or draft board. The Raiders are also the kings of misinformation! They operate in a cloak of secrecy and pride themselves on not letting anybody know what they are thinking.

San Diego Chargers
A.J. Smith: General manager
Marty Schottenheimer: Head coach
Buddy Nix: Assistant general manager/director of player personnel
A year ago, the Chargers' front office had more than its share of critics, and many so-called experts thought A.J. Smith was in over his head. However, it appears that Smith and the well-organized San Diego front office gets the last laugh; not only has the on-the-field product vastly improved but Smith has the organization set up well for the future with a stockpile of draft picks and money to spend in free agency.
Smith grew in the business under the late John Butler, one of the best, and A.J. is carrying on the tradition. He is not afraid to make tough decisions and is not influenced by outside opinions. He has developed the thick skin all good GMs need.
Smith's No. 1 aide is director of player personnel Buddy Nix, who doesn't even live in San Diego. He is primarily a college evaluator and mostly involved in the draft, but Smith has a long relationship of trust with him, and it shows on draft day.
Fran Foley is director of pro personnel, and he mainly concentrates on free agency and pro acquisitions, while Jimmy Raye Jr. is director of college scouting and does a nice job of keeping the scouts organized. This has been a front office with a good atmosphere, and Smith creates a positive working environment for his scouts.
Ed McGuire is a well-respected cap guy and knows the league, but he's not really deeply involved in player evaluations.
Marty Schottenheimer has had a good working relationship with Smith. However, the Chargers lost some key assistant coaches who were in the last year of their contract because they were expected to fail in 2004.

Scouts, Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN Insider.

03-10-2005, 07:37 AM
The Chiefs scouting department is more like a disfunctional family then a pro organinzation. How can so many people be so wrong for so long?

03-10-2005, 08:07 AM
I call BS. The scouting and drafting departments seem to work well? Are they only taking into account the third round and later? The 1st and 2nd rounds are where you live and die as a team and King Carl's draft history in those rounds sucks.

03-10-2005, 08:31 AM
I suppose they figure having one of the best offenses in the NFL for 3 years qualifies as succeeding no matter the number of playoff victories.

03-10-2005, 08:49 AM
Sounds like the guy we get the direct scouting report has to pass it thru layers of bureaucracy and the person making the final decision is reading reports that were rewritten.
This article didn't get into draft tendencies. We tend to go after tweeners and project players who are a bigger gamble with potential bigger payout that rarely pans out. We need to start taking the gambles later in the draft. Mitchell was one of those gambles who should have been drafted two rounds later. Bartee, and Freeman are examples of tweeners and both should have lasted until later rounds.

03-10-2005, 09:24 AM
Chuck Cook is an underrated director of college scouting. Although Cook does an excellent job of organizing the draft and delegating responsibilities to his scouts, there are a lot of layers between him and Vermeil, and he might not always have the draft voice he should.

Most important piece of information in the article, IMO.