Jon-Eric Sullivan

Front Office Notes: Hinkie, Packers, Titans

Sam Hinkie developed an interesting reputation in the NBA, taking a unique path toward rebuilding the Philadelphia 76ers during his run as their GM. He set them on their current course via historic tanking over a years-long endeavor dubbed “The Process” — one that led to the team making several lottery picks, two of those becoming Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Although Hinkie stepped down from his post in 2016, his work looks much better after those two prospects became stars and spearheaded Philly into the playoffs this season. And an NFL team took the time to pick his brain this week. Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic reports (subscription required) the Broncos brought in the 40-year-old executive for an analytics powwow. Hinkie spoke to the Broncos’ analytics department, as well as members of their scouting branch, football administration and conditioning staffs this week, per Jhabvala, on how to best use the data teams are now collecting.

Here’s the latest from some front offices around the league.

  • Green Bay will go with a two-man setup in a key role under GM Brian Gutekunst. Jon-Eric Sullivan and John Wojciechowski will rise to the roles of co-player personnel directors for the Packers, the team announced. Sullivan previously operated as the Packers’ director of college scouting, doing so for two seasons, while Wojchichowski was the team’s pro personnel director in 2017.
  • Gutekunst also made some adjustments to the team’s scouting staff. Matt Malaspina will rise to Sullivan’s old job. A 20-plus-year NFL veteran, Malaspina was hired as a Packers college scout in 2017. The Packers promoted Sam Seale to a national scouting role after he spent time working primarily as a west region scout, per PackersNews.com. Chad Brinker will now work as Green Bay’s assistant director of pro scouting and serve as a salary cap analyst, while Pat Moore will come over from the Browns and work as a college scout for the Packers. While former Packers exec John Dorsey is now the Browns’ GM, Moore spent five years in Cleveland working under previous regimes. Former NFL defensive back Brandian Ross will make greater inroads into the scouting world. The Packers are promoting the 28-year-old, who played for three teams from 2012-15 after coming into the league as a UDFA out of Youngstown State, to a college scouting role after he spent last year as a scouting assistant. Luke Benuska will also earn greater responsibility; he’ll work as a college scout after serving as a pro scout.
  • The Titans made a few adjustments to their staff on Friday. Most notably, player personnel director Ryan Cowden will now serve as the franchise’s VP of player personnel, TitansOnline.com’s Terry McCormick reports (on Twitter). Tennessee brought in Cowden two years ago to that player personnel director role. Previously, he spent 16 seasons with the Panthers, finishing his years there as Carolina’s assistant director of college scouting. Additionally, Kevin Turks will now serve as Titans assistant director of pro personnel and Rob Reiderer will work as a scouting assistant.

Packers Notes: Whitt, O’Neil, Graham, Staff

Packers cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt was passed over as Green Bay searched for a new defensive coordinator, but he’ll stay on with the club and receive an elevated title of defensive passing game coordinator, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link). Whitt was one of three internal candidates — in addition to assistant head coach/linebackers Winston Moss and safeties coach Darren Perry — being considered for Packers DC, but former Browns head coach Mike Pettine was ultimately awarded the position. At present, there’s no word as to whether Moss or Perry will remain on staff.

Here’s the latest from Green Bay, with a focus on coaches and front office personnel:

  • Now that Pettine has been announced as the Packers’ new defensive coordinator, Green Bay will attempt to fill out a defensive staff. As Adam Caplan of SiriusXM hinted last night, the Packers will interview former 49ers defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil for their linebackers coach position, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. O’Neil, who spent the 2017 campaign out of the NFL, served as Petine’s defensive coordinator when both worked with the Browns from 2014-15. O’Neil’s interview could be a sign that the incumbent Moss is moving on.
  • Cignetti isn’t the only ex-Giants assistant whom the Packers could soon hire, as Green Bay will also meet with New York defensive line coach Patrick Graham this week, per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link). Like O’Neil, Graham could be a candidate for the Packers’ linebackers coach job, reports Silverstein (Twitter link). The 38-year-old Graham spent the past two seasons teaching defensive lineman with Big Blue, but was previously a longtime Patriots staffer, working his way through the ranks to coach both lineman and linebackers in New England.
  • Green Bay’s front office has witnessed major upheaval over the past several weeks, as Brian Gutekunst replaced Ted Thompson as general manager while fellow executives Eliot Wolf and Alonzo Highsmith both took new positions with the Browns. More changes will likely be coming, however, and the Packers are expected to consider college scouting director Jon-Eric Sullivan and pro personnel director John Wojciechowski for promotions, tweets Silverstein. Both men could be contenders for an assistant general manager of director of player personnel role.