Since Rick Spielman was fired four days ago, news has been coming out all week about different prospects with which the Vikings would like to interview for their open General Manager position. No less than 8 different names have been linked to the Vikings as potential replacements for Rick Spielman. The prospects come from a wide range of backgrounds and NFL experience, from just a handful of years, to nearly two decades and include men, a woman, and minorities. The team certainly appears to be casting a pretty wide net to hopefully find the right person for the job. As fans we certainly want the Wilfs to hire the best candidate, but how should these candidates be evaluated? As an outsider looking in, we only have access to a few different data-points, but there are some objective characteristics we can use to rank the eight GM prospects that have been publicly revealed.
One of the most important things any NFL team should be interested in is a winning culture. And by examining each prospect's work history, we can determine just how much of a winning culture these candidates come from. Secondly, we're interested in their experience in the NFL. Hiring a young and up and coming prospect might be exciting, but if they don't have a lot of work experience in the NFL, there is less to evaluate and could be seen as a negative. So, what follows is a ranking of each of the eight GM candidates using career winning percentage with every NFL organization they have worked, and their total years working in the NFL. Each of those two traits was weighted evenly to arrive at the following ranking.
1. Monti Ossenfort - 0.746 Win % and 19 Years in NFL
Monti Ossenfort rises to the top of the list due to his long tenure in the NFL and his incredibly high winning percentage. He was part of the Super Bowl winning 2003 Patriots team, and then after joined a disappointing Houston Texans team during the 2004-2005 seasons. He quickly rejoined the Patriots in 2006 and was part of their dynasty through the 2019 season during Tom Brady's tenure. Following his time with the Patriots, he joined the Titans staff and has been part of a very good Titans organization the past two seasons. This is an executive that has been part of three different NFL franchises and knows what a successful team should look like. If we're using team regular season wins and NFL experience as a measuring stick, Monti Ossenfort looks like the top candidate for the job.
2. Eliot Wolf - 0.575 Win % and 18 Years in the NFL
Eliot Wolf will get no love from the Vikings organization as he was with the Packers for much of the later Favre and Rodgers years, learning from a winning organization. He left the Packers after the 2017 season and spent two forgettable years with the Browns, before moving on to the Patriots the past two seasons in their transition post-Tom Brady. Like Ossenfort above, he's been with three different NFL franchises and knows what a winning organization looks like. If he became the next GM for the Vikings, fans would have to look past his long-time tenure with division rival Green Bay.
3. Ryan Poles - 0.603 Win % and 13 Years in the NFL
Ryan Poles is an interesting candidate as he has the 2nd highest winning percentage on the list, and a respectable tenure in the NFL with 13 years of experience. But he's only been with one franchise his whole career: the Kansas City Chiefs. Still, the Chiefs have been a successful team in recent years and Poles worked his way up from scout to executive director of player personnel. He'll eventually get his shot to run a team, and the Vikings might just be the landing place for him.
4. John Spytek - 0.533 Win % and 17 Years in the NFL
John Spytek is not only the 3rd most experienced candidate, but has spent time with four different franchises, most of any candidate on the list. He's not quite as high on the list in winning percentage thanks in large part to his three seasons on a terrible Cleveland Browns team from 2010-2012 with Colt McCoy and Brandon Weedon. If those 3 years were omitted from his resume, his win percentage jumps up to 0.584, or 3rd highest among the candidates and would have moved him into 3rd place in this ranking, tied with Ryan Poles. He was part of a strong Eagles franchise from 2005-2009 during McNabb's final years, a very good Broncos team from 2013-2015 during the Peyton Manning years, and now finds himself with the Bucs during their magical turnaround with Tom Brady. If we're looking for an NFL executive who's been around some of the best (and worst) quarterbacks in NFL history, look no further than John Spytek.
5. Brandon Brown - 0.535 Win % and 7 Years in the NFL
Brandon Brown hasn't yet shown an exceptional win percentage in terms of the NFL teams he's been involved with, nor has he had a long tenure in the NFL, which is why he finds himself buried in the middle of the ranking. He spent time with the Colts during Andrew Luck's time and has been with the Eagles during Carson Wentz's years and now one season of Jalen Hurts. Brown could be an excellent NFL executive, especially given his experience as a defensive back at Fordham University from 2007-2010 but doesn't have the level of experience as some of the candidates ahead of him.
6. Glenn Cook - 0.481 Win % and 11 Years in the NFL
Glenn Cook has more experience than Brandon Brown above him but also has a much lower winning percentage having been involved with a lackluster Colts team when Peyton Manning went down with a neck injury in 2011, and having been a part of the Browns organization since 2016. While the Browns have improved a lot the past couple seasons, they were historically bad during the early part of Cook's tenure there. Still, perhaps he should earn some credit for turning that team around? Cleveland was winless his first season with the team, but made the playoffs three years later and just barely missed the playoffs again this past season. Cook could be ripe for a GM position with 11 years in the NFL and having been a part of three different franchises, including the Aaron Rodgers led Packers from 2012-2015 where they made the playoffs in 4 consecutive seasons he was there. Ignoring the 1-win season without Manning with the Colts, and his first winless Browns season from his resume, his winning percentage jumps up to 0.540, which would be 3rd best among the 8 candidates. So, there may be more to Glenn Cook's candidacy than meets the eye.
7. Kwesi Adofo Mensah - 0.476 Win % and 9 Years in the NFL
Kwesi Adofo Mensah has an interesting history and is one of the few candidates without any direct football experience prior to being hired by the 49ers in 2013. His win percentage rank is 2nd lowest and he has the 3rd fewest years of NFL experience as well. Mensah is an "analytics" guy and has spent most of his career crunching numbers and running data analysis in personnel departments. As he is also one of the younger candidates on the list, he would be the quintessential non-traditional hire.
8. Catherine Raiche - 0.459 Win % and 3 Years in the NFL
While Catherine Raiche is a relative newcomer to the NFL with only 3 years of experience with the Eagles, she's not new to football. She previously spent several years in the CFL with the Montreal Alouettes and Toronto Argonauts. She finds herself ranked 8th overall due to a relative lack of experience in the NFL and the lowest winning percentage. During her time with the Eagles, they have not been a strong franchise the past three seasons with Carson Wentz and Jalen Hurts under center. She could prove to be an excellent executive, and at the very least has earned the distinction of being the first woman in the NFL to have been requested for an interview for a GM position.
Ranking General Manager candidates is a tough proposition, because they all have wildly difference resumes, skillsets, and experience. It is very much like comparing apples to oranges. If the Wilfs are looking for a GM to complement a head coach, then they will likely look for similar qualities. And they publicly mentioned they wanted head coaching candidates who were, "great leaders, great communicators and great collaborators" and who "our players will want to follow and that will get us success on and off the field." Some of their top candidates are part of playoff teams, so it make be several weeks before their GM interviews are finished. And once that is done, they'll begin looking at head coaching candidates with their newly hired GM having input into the selection.