As we enter the final stages of the 2020 NFL regular season, attention is being drawn ever more to the high-profile openings next season. With the Houston Texans currently amongst at least four teams that will be on the lookout for a new general manager after the conclusion of the season, it’s about time to get busy.
Houston does have the advantage that they are arguably the most desirable location for any budding GM's given that they have their franchise quarterback in Deshaun Watson, a solid offensive line, a strong set of receivers, and some nice pieces on defense.
READ MORE: Hot in Houston? Our Top 5 Coach Candidates
With this in mind, here are our top five candidates for the Texans GM opening.
Director of Player Personnel - Kansas City Chiefs
Where else to start but with the reigning Super Bowl champions? Formerly the co-director of player personnel with current Chiefs GM Brett Veach, Borgonzi was promoted to his current role upon Veach's replacement of John Dorsey in 2017.
Borgonzi was always going to be a hot name this year given the team's continued success, and the fact that two others to have held his current title within the Chiefs are now NFL GM's (Veach and Colts GM Chris Ballard).
With 11 years as a scout under his belt, along with six promotions in 10 years, his experience with those at the top of his profession can only help.
"I came here in 2009 on the college [scouting] side," said Borgonzi back in 2015 per Chiefs.com. "In 2010, I moved over to operations and it gave me a broad scope of the entire organization and allowed me to see all the moving parts that go along with it. Then I moved over to pro scouting the following year (2011)."
"When I first came here with Scott (Pioli), it was Bill Belichick's way of scouting, and now learning from John (Dorsey) and the Ron Wolf philosophy, I couldn't be more fortunate than to have learned both ways."
An All-Ivy League fullback three of the four years he spent at Brown, Borgonzi would bring experience on the field as well as the front office, something that should give him an understanding with the players.
Also worth mentioning is that not only is he currently working with potential Texans head coaching candidate Eric Bieniemy (Chiefs coordinator) but he also has the same agent as current Texans interim GM Jack Easterby who will likely remain with the team next season in some capacity.
Pro Scouting Coordinator - Pittsburgh Steelers
A scout for the Texans between 2007 and 2009, Hunt is rumored as one of the favorites to succeed current Steelers GM Kevin Colbert once his one-year extension runs out next year, according to The Athletic's Ed Bouchette.
A long-time scout, Hunt has experienced the rigors of the NFL draft and "had an active role in the 2019 draft" and "is responsible for scouting Steelers opponents and evaluating pro players" per CBS.
The Steelers are currently the only undefeated team in the league at 11-0 and have shown an exceptional ability to find young talent in recent years. Look no further than JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool, James Connor, T.J. Watt, Ryan Shazier, Bud Dupree, and Terrell Edmunds - all of whom were drafted by the Steelers.
And his summary of the basic necessities behind who to draft earlier this year gives an interesting insight into his scouting mantra.
"What it comes down to is hearts and smarts," said Hunt, per Steelers.com. "Does the guy love football and is he smart?”
Hunt might be a long shot for the Texans given that he seems to be Colbert's heir-apparent, however, his record deserves their best efforts to bring him to Houston.
Assistant General Manager - Indianapolis Colts
Another candidate to have worked with Ballard, Dodds has an impressive track record.
"Dodds was quietly considered Seahawks GM John Schneider’s secret weapon for years," said SI's Abert Breer back in 2018. "And it took someone with Ballard’s institutional knowledge to come in and poach him. Word’s out now. Dodds is not only a top evaluator for the Colts but also helps Ballard run trades."
Having a GM with trade experience could prove vital for a Texans franchise with little in the way of cap space and draft picks to work with.
The Texans' biggest need is a revamped defense and for that, he would fit. Looking at this current Colts side and those of the Seahawks during his time there, the theme of a strong defense is evident.
During the 2020 Senior Bowl, Dodds said to Colts.com that traits he would be looking for in players were that "they're relentless competitors, and they have the mental toughness to handle it." This attitude sounds eerily similar to that of another head coaching candidate, current San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Salah, with whom Dodds worked in Seattle.
Director of Player Personnel - Baltimore Ravens
Hortiz has won two Super Bowls with the Ravens since 1998 starting as a regional scout, working his way up to director of college scouting, and from 2019, director of player personnel.
He has had the advantage of having worked closely with Ozzie Newsome, arguably one of the best GM's the league has seen. Combine his experience learning from Newsome on building rosters with his own scouting knowledge, and Hortiz is a strong candidate.
Look no further than the Ravens' 2019 season. Culminating with 12 Pro Bowlers and quarterback Lamar Jackson winning MVP, it is safe to say he is well versed in building a Super Bowl-caliber roster, even if they fell short of the ultimate prize last season.
A deep understanding of scouting, with experience drafting, and building Super Bowl-winning rosters. Hortiz could be a home-run.
Director of Player Personnel - Cardinals
A former safety for the Denver Broncos, New York Giants, and Cardinals, Harris went straight from the field to the front office. Hired as a pro scout in 2008, Harris quickly rose up the ranks and has been promoted three times since by the Cardinals.
According to the Cardinals: "In his current role with the Cardinals, Harris works alongside GM Steve Keim, overseeing both the college and pro personnel departments while assisting with player contract negotiations."
This knowledge of both the player acquisitions side of the business and the player negotiations side makes him an intriguing candidate, especially for a Texans team that arguably lacked in both with former GM Bill O'Brien.
Clearly passionate about football, last year the 43-year old discussed the joy he gets from his job, and more specifically from the draft process.
"Fans would pay for this job, to watch football, and that’s what we do," said Harris. "Getting to know the player, yes that’s part of the process. But getting to watch tape; it’s finding that diamond in the rough. Finding the guy around now. Finding the undrafted free agent that makes the team and makes you proud."
And given Houston's tight salary cap next season, they could use a GM who can find a few diamonds in the rough.
This year there have been a number of front-office members around the league who have shown they deserve to be considered, and thus narrowing down our list to five was tough. Here are a few of the candidates who just missed our list: Martin Mayhew (49ers), Ryan Cowden (Titans), Morocco Brown (Colts), Glenn Cook (Browns), Nick Caserio (Patriots), and Adam Peters (49ers).
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