By: Jeff Barrett
10. Denver Broncos GM John Elway
Most Hall of Fame players don't become successful GMs, let alone for the team they won two championships for as a player. Ask Michael Jordan.
Elway is a gambler, just like he was when he played. His greatest skill is the power of persuasion. Luring Peyton Manning and now Wes Welker now have the Broncos positioned as a Super Bowl contender.
Still, his job is not without challenges. Losing pass rusher, Elvis Dumervil will hurt and OL depth will be tested with the injury to C Dan Koppen. Plus, Manning is aging and he already has to consider a succession plan. The Broncos are built for right now and may be the favorite in the AFC.
9. Seattle GM John Schneider
From the Ted Thompson scouting tree, Schneider is the NFC's version of Elway. He has continued to define convention by drafting QB Russell Wilson (too small), DE Bruce Irvin (too small) and corners that are well above 6 feet tall.
The results are a team that will challenge for the NFC in a tough division with San Francisco and improving St. Louis. The Percy Harvin trade has back fired so far, as he will miss most of the season. Still, Russell Wilson will make this team relevant for years to come and their defense may become the best in the league.
8. Pittsburgh GM Kevin Colbert
A model of consistency, Pittsburgh missed the playoffs last year and tension still exists between QB Ben Roethlisberger and OC Todd Haley. Usually higher on this list, recent on-field performance is a factor.
Colbert is not flashy, does not go after the high-priced free agent and will let receivers like Santonio Holmes and Mike Wallace leave to teams offering more than market value. Holmes was the right move. It's too early to tell with Wallace, now in Miami.
Consistently one of the best drafters in the league, Colbert and Pittsburgh always have a great defense. This year he is betting on recent picks WR Antonio Brown and C Maurkice Pouncey to lead the offense.
7. Houston GM Rick Smith
Smith won the 2011 draft with DE J.J Watt and saw something in RB Arian Foster. Watt is now the best defensive player in the league and Foster the most complete back. A healthy LB Brian Cushing and S Ed Reed will make Houston hard to beat in the AFC South.
Smith turned around a former expansion team with consistent drafting and very few moves in free agency. Star wide receiver Andre Johnson is aging, Matt Schaub is prone to injury. The roster has question marks but when healthy they are a Super Bowl contender in a wide open AFC.
6. Atlanta GM Thomas Dimitroff
Dimitroff should be higher on this list. He has never had a losing record as a GM, going 51-22 with Atlanta. More impressive knowing that he inherited a team whose coach left in mid season to go back to college and were one of the worst in the league.
Drafting QB Matt Ryan and hiring coach Mike Smith has Atlanta positioned to be a contender for years. Moving up to grab WR Julio Jones has proven to be a great move.
Limited playoff success is the long thing holding Dimitroff back. He could easily be at the top of this list in two years.
5. San Francisco GM Trent Baalke
Two years ago San Francisco was a below average football team with a storied history, then they hired GM Trent Baalke. What he lack in tenure he has made up for in the quickest and best turnaround in the NFL.
Hiring coach John Harbaugh and drafting relative unknown QB Colin Kaepernick put San Francisco in the Super Bowl last year. This year, they are Vegas' favorite to win it all. Baalke hasn't rest either, acquiring WR Anquan Boldin and improving their secondary.
4. Green Bay GM Ted Thompson
Trading Brett Favre away to make room for Aaron Rodgers was not a popular decision at the time. Now, no one is giving Thompson a discount double-check. Rodgers led them to a Super Bowl win and has them as a contender every year.
This year Thompson addressed their running game by drafting running backs Franklin and Bash (Eddie Lacy). The offensive line is still an issue, as is keeping Clay Matthews healthy. That aside the Packers are the class of NFC organizations.
3. New York Giants GM Jerry Reese
Two Super Bowls. Yes, the giants missed the playoffs last year. Still track record counts for something. Reese has been the most impactful GM in the NFL since 2007.
As a team the Giants are inconsistent but their defense is always stocked with talent and Eli Manning always makes them dangerous. 2013 is crucial for Reese. Make the playoffs and all is well. Miss the playoffs two years in a row and he may make room for Indianapolis' Ryan Grigson on this list. It's not easy being in New York but Reese handles the pressure.
2. New England GM Bill Belichick
Bill Parcells, his mentor, once said, "If you are asked to cook dinner you should at least be allowed to pick out the groceries." Belichick is the only coach on this list and for good reason. It usually doesn't work. The recent troubles of Aaron Hernandez has put the "Patriot Way" in question.
Still, this has been the premier NFL franchise for over a decade. Belichick inherited a weak team with an injured star quarterback and turned it in to three super bowls. Early teams based on defense, he has innovated offense with multiple TE sets and quicker pace. They have consistently drafted well and seem to be a step ahead of every one else in their division.
2013 will be a challenge. Tom Brady has lost many of his weapons to free agency, injury and prison. Still, the Patriots seem like a lock for the playoffs every year.
1. Baltimore GM Ozzie Newsome
Like Elway, Newsome is a Hall of Fame player but an even more impressive GM. he has put together 16 consistent seasons drafting Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Joe Flacco, Ray Rice and more.
When he joined the Ravens they were the former Cleveland Browns, moved to a new city, with no history and no identity. Two Super Bowls later they are known for punishing defense and the best locker room in the league.
One third of the league has changed their GM in the last two years. Newsome has been the model of consistency during that time. He has had to re-build the Ravens countless times.
2013 may be his biggest challenge though. Future Hall of Famers Lewis and Reed are gone. Key defensive talents LB Ellerbe (Miami) and DE Kruger (Cleveland) are also gone. He traded star WR Anquan Boldin to San Francisco. TE Dennis Pitta is our for the year.
Still, it will be hard to doubt Newsome and the Ravens. Teams don't achieve this level of constancy by accident. Expect the Ravens to keep contending in the AFC with a nucleus of Flacco and Rice. Expect Newsome to find a way. He always does.