Who's making the draft-day decisions?

NFL teams have many different ways of approaching the draft, from strong head coaches or owners to a collaborative effort. Here how the teams will operate over the next three days.

By the time the clock strikes midnight tonight, 32 players will be the newest members of the NFL fraternity How those players are chosen varies from team to team

The Vikings have their unique Triangle of Authority Some teams have strong head coaches, like Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll, who are given the autonomy to make personnel decisions – living in an organizational relationship that believes if the head coach is going to make the dinner, he should shop for the ingredients Others have a dominant general manager that makes all personnel decisions There are even some, dominated by the Dallas Cowboys and the Oakland Raiders, that have owners that like to stick their nose in every personnel decision – which, since they cut the checks, is their right

Both of the strong owners have made a name for themselves on draft day Jones loves to make trades and has used the draft to alternately trade up or trade down to get a player he is convinced can be a big deal His ego is such that, when he drafted Dez Bryant last year, he still lamented not taking Randy Moss 12 years earlier Al Davis has become the annual butt of jokes for taking players who are Tarzan at the Combine, but Jane on the field

So who calls the shots? While there are varying degrees of subordinate help from staff, coaches, scouts, etc when it comes time to pull the trigger and either trade out of the spot or make a pick, someone has the ultimate authority in the room As you watch the draft tonight, keep these guys in mind, because they're the ones making the call in the respective war rooms

Arizona Cardinals – Head coach Ken Whistenhunt got a contract extension a year before G M Rod Graves (who was given a new deal at the same time) , but Graves makes all the final calls on both the draft and free agency Whisenhunt and the coaching staff have input in developing the board, but Graves pulls the trigger

Atlanta Falcons – G M Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Mike Smith work as a two-man war-room power duo The have worked extremely well together since they joined forces Given their recent success, it's been a happy marriage

Baltimore Ravens – General manager Ozzie Newsom has a growing history of making excellent early selections and has solidified his position as one of the most respected and power-monopolizing G M s in the game He has earned that right and stands alone as the one four-star general in the war room

Buffalo Bills – Few G M s will be feeling more heat than Buddy Nix, in his second year in Buffalo Only three players from his first draft saw much playing time and ninth overall pick C.J. Spiller was a disappointment in the big picture of things The most impressive rookie was LB Arthur Moats, who ended up being the guy who put out Brett Favre With the No 3 pick, Nix can't afford to swing and miss because too much is at stake in a division where the Bills clearly look to be the weakest team

Carolina Panthers – This will be interesting to watch When perennial interviewee Ron Rivera finally landed a head-coaching job with the Panthers, he claimed that personnel decision would be a collaborative effort between him and G M Marty Hurney The collapse of the front office under John Fox came to a head when he and Hurney butted heads The silver Fox is gone and Hurney remains Rivera may think he's got a 50-50 stake in the final draft decisions, but don't bet on it, since Hurney has been in his job since 2002 and Rivera has been in his for three months

Chicago Bears – G M Jerry Angelo is going to be on the hot seat He has had some major first-round failures in his tenure atop the Bears front office He has put the band back together before last season by hiring former Seattle president of football operations Tim Ruskell, with this being their first full offseason together The two worked together for more than a decade with Tampa Bay and worked well as a tandem With them reunited (and it feels so good!), the odd man out is Lovie Smith, whose voice will be drowned out in the draft process

Cincinnati Bengals – Owner/president Mike Brown wields the power over all personnel decisions, including the hit-and-miss history of the Bengals' recent draft history Head coach Marvin Lewis has significant input, anything that takes the decision-making out of Brown's twitchy hand is a good thing, but Brown makes the big decisions on draft day

Cleveland Browns – Team president Mike Holmgren was lured in specifically to take charge of all personnel moves General manager Tom Heckert still has a significant role in the stacking of the draft board, but Holmgren makes the call, leaving Heckert and the coaching staff out of the loop when it comes to making picks

Dallas Cowboys – Jerry Jones has his fingers in everything to do with the Cowboys organization He is as hands-on as any owner in the league and nothing will change The selection of Dez Bryant was 100 percent a Jones decision JJ's son Stephen has taken over the role of the No 2 man in the war room, surpassing director of college and pro scouting Tom Ciskowski It's all Jones all the time

Denver Broncos – A new look here Josh McDaniels was given a lot of authority to leave New England and nearly drove the franchise into the ground by trading away young stars Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall With McDaniels out, it's a new-look war room John Elway was named director of pro football operations and new head coach John Fox had a lot of authority in his time at Carolina Despite the regime change, G M Brian Xanders was retained and still has his authority This could be a confusing situation, since Elway talks like he's making the call and Xanders and Fox are both saying they will agree before making a decision It could be an implosion waiting to happen

Detroit Lions – After years of wallowing under Matt Millen, general manager Martin Mayhew has done a very credible job as the decision-maker with the Lions in free agency, draft and trades He aggressively went after Jahvid Best and got Minnesota to bite He is building a much better team, even though the measuring stick was quite low in the Millen Malaise years

Green Bay Packers – No general manager took more heat in 2009-10 than Ted Thompson, who previously traded away Brett Favre to move forward with Aaron Rodgers A Super Bowl title later, Thompson got a contract extension and completely dominates that draft room Mike McCarthy does little, leaving primary input to Thompson coming from director of college scouting John Dorsey

Houston Texans – Another tandem approach, with head coach Gary Kubiak and G M Rick Smith in the lead, but it would appear that Kubiak has more stroke than most coaches in the war room and his recommendations are usually adopted, giving him rare power among coaches without a decade of tenure in front of them

Indianapolis Colts – President Bill Polian has spent 13 years with the Colts and, through the ups and downs, has consistently found players that fit in the system Given the lack of free-agent activity and a handful of players eating up half of the salary cap space for the entire roster, his job is as important as any in the league His son Chris is the G M and being groomed to be Bill's eventual replacement, keeping it all in the family

Jacksonville Jaguars – Jack Del Rio has somehow avoided being fired after several close calls, but when it comes to the war room, he has little responsibility other than to meet with the media for a photo op G M Gene Smith makes all the draft decisions, whether they be picks or trades It's his war room Everyone else just lives in it for a weekend

Kansas City Chiefs – Scott Pioli was brought in as general manager from the Patriots to bring the same sense of winning to Kansas City He has surrounded himself with former Patriots coordinators Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel and success came last year Coach Todd Haley has a lot of input, but it's Pioli's show and he makes all the critical decisions

Miami Dolphins – With Bill Parcells gone, the onus will fall to his two main disciples – head coach Tony Sporano and G M Jeff Ireland Both were hand-picked by the Big Tuna to come along with him to South Beach This will be their first draft without Parcells and Ireland is expected to be the last word, but, when the parents go away, there's no telling how the kids will react It could turn into a chest-bumping contest – especially if taking a QB with their first pick Something to watch and see who steps to the podium after a big pick or trade

Minnesota VikingsThe Vikings have a strange thing called the Triangle of Authority that, for the last four years, included head coach Brad Childress, VP of player personnel Rick Spielman and cap manager Rob Brzezinski When it comes to the draft, Brzezinski works the phones and has no input – he is more important in structuring free-agent contracts Childress always had the upper hand, but with him out and Leslie Frazier in, the word is that it will be business as usual Spielman, who came in after Childress' first draft, may be looking to exert more authority other than his horizontal stacking of the board – assigning grades to players and leaving the head coach to decide which of those players he wants Spielman may look for a mini-power grab

New England Patriots – A lot of the leg work is done by Floyd Reese and Nick Caserio of the scouting department, but no head coach wields more power than Bill Belichick He has the final say in all signings, firings, trades and draft picks and you can't argue with the success He's lost half his personnel and coaching staff due to his success

New Orleans Saints – Sean Payton and G M Mickey Loomis work in conjunction with each other, but Payton is the one who pulls the trigger on draft picks Loomis' role, by and large, is to get the players signed and in camp as soon as possible Payton will be the guy you see on ESPN doing post-pick interviews, because he's the one who belongs in the spotlight

New York Giants – Tom Coughlin has a lot of authority within the team, but, after years of Ernie Accorsi's stranglehold on the reigns of power as the general manager, Jerry Reese has transitioned into the job He works more closely with director of college scouting Marc Ross Coughlin has a role in prioritizing, but it's Reese who holds the riding crop in the end

New York Jets – Rex Ryan consults on where he needs help, especially when it comes to grabbing defensive players in free agency, but GM Mike Tannenbaum is in charge of the draft He made the big move to get Mark Sanchez by trading up and currently is the golden boy of New York on draft day, solidifying his position atop the war-room depth chart

Oakland Raiders – Crazy Al Davis has his bloody fingerprints all over every draft, which have brought up JaMarcus Russell, Darren McFadden and Darius Heyward Bay over the last four years None of them have lived up to their top-10 expectations, while other players taken later at the same positions have become stars – guys like Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson and Joe Flacco to name three Davis and his mob posse do what they do, which at this point is more like the voodoo that they do They're always worth a good laugh

Philadelphia Eagles – There was a lot of pressure on Howie Roseman last year in his first draft after Tom Heckert joined Mike Holmgren in Cleveland to revive that franchise His first draft was extremely impressive – nine players started at least one game Andy Reid has his chubby fingers in the mix and will press hard for some of his favorites, but Roseman is building a quick reputation and, with another solid draft, will cement his place atop the war room hierarchy

Pittsburgh Steelers – Director of football operations Kevin Colbert is the man in charge of the war room Mike Tomlin's role is to work closely with Colbert and, by all accounts, it's is a cordial relationship But, when it comes to moving up or down or making the final decision, that still rests with Colbert

St. Louis Rams – G M Billy Devaney has almost dictatorial control The only other voice that is heard during the offseason process is VP of football operations Kevin Demoff, but his job is primarily as the team's contract negotiator, which is much more in use in use when it comes to contracts – not evaluating player talent Devaney staked his future on Sam Bradford and, for now, he's safe A bad draft this year could change that in a hurry, so he's a cigar-chomping war room boss that can't sit easy

San Diego Chargers – Perhaps no G M has more power and stroke than A.J. Smith He makes all the calls – draft, trades, free agency, veteran cuts He's done them all There's really not much to say

San Francisco 49ers – Trent Baalke is something of a "rags to riches" war room story The general manager started off as an underling with Bill Parcells in the late 1990s He worked his way up through a couple of organizations and, after the end of the 2010 season, six years into his employment with the 49ers he was named the team's new G M With a new coaching staff in place, it will be his chance to shine or fail on his own merits

Seattle Seahawks – Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider overhauled the Seattle roster in their first year together – going so far as to sign and later release LenDale White without him ever playing a game The hierarchy seems clear Carroll prioritizes positions and Schneider pulls the trigger on the move If push comes to shove, Carroll wins After striking gold with Russell Okung and Earl Thomas with two first-round picks last year, how will they follow it up in 2011? Could the first crack in the honeymoon relationship show up this month? We'll see

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – General Manager Mark Dominik holds all the cards and has a track record of success Last year alone, four rookies started nine games or more – including fourth-round WR Mike Williams and seventh-round safety Cody Grimm He's earned his spot, but is only signed through this year, which will make his task a "what have done for me lately?" proposition

Tennessee Titans – Jeff Fisher used to wield a lot of power, ostensibly working in concert with general manager Mike Reinfeldt With the Fish gone, it will be interesting to see how this one plays out New head coach Mike Munchak may find himself at the war room kid's table with skin on the gravy by the time it gets to him He'll have to earn his stripes by making quiet recommendations, not loud pronouncements

Washington Redskins – Last year, we highlighted this one as a war room to watch – for good reason Mike Shanahan was a western dictator who ran short shrift over the Colorado Territory and was heading to Washington, where the real power resides He went up against G M Bruce Allen The two apparently were at odds over whether to trade a second-round pick in 2010 and a fourth-rounder this year to acquire Donovan McNabb Allen was for it Shanny wasn't Trade made Still paying Not happy Don's gone For the second straight year, this may be the war room to watch to see if smoke comes out of it


John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here


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