Six possible candidates for Lions GM job

Lynn Henning
The Detroit News

Not since the 1950s have the Lions built rosters good enough to win NFL championships.

Thursday, at their Allen Park headquarters, Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford said the team had come to terms with a specific mission designed to turn the Lions into winners.

The team will hire a new general manager — a personnel steward whose job it will be to stock a roster with players sufficient in number and quality to make regular deep NFL playoff runs.

Ford was emphatic that the Lions’ search will span the national landscape. And if that indeed happens, names that lead to inquiries and interviews could include these:

ELIOT WOLF

Director of player personnel

Packers

Considered one of the ultra-talented personnel people anywhere in the NFL. Wolf is the son of Ron Wolf, the retired Packers GM who crafted a dynasty centered on Brett Favre.

Wolf has been in a Packers film room since he was 10 and has been assisting on Packers drafts, in some fashion or another, since 1993. He has worked the college and pro sides as a scout and as a pro player personnel overseer.

He has the job once owned by John Schneider, who in 2008 was mentioned as a potential Lions GM candidate following Matt Millen’s ouster.

But the Lions never called, and Schneider a year later was hired by the Seahawks as their GM and as architect of a premier playoff regular.

Wolf is young, 33, but is only four years younger than Schneider was when he surfaced as a Lions candidate in 2008.

He has an English degree from the University of Miami (Fla.).

RICK SPIELMAN

General manager

Vikings

Spielman has a Lions association, having worked in Detroit as a scout from 1990-96 ahead of his move to the Bears, and later to the Dolphins, as a personnel director.

He has been general manager of the Vikings for the past four seasons and is believed to be under contract only through 2015, which might or might not offer Detroit a window.

Spielman is the older brother of Chris Spielman, the former Lions linebacker.

His Vikings drafts have been, on balance, strong and have been characterized by multiple first-round picks, including three in 2013, that Spielman wheedled.

Among players he has either drafted or whose selection he helped influence: Adrian Peterson, Teddy Bridgewater, Percy Harvin, Matt Kalil, Harrison Smith, Sharrif Floyd, Xavier Rhodes, Cordarrelle Patterson and Anthony Barr.

He was part of the consensus that in 2007 delivered defensive pass-rusher and crusher Jared Allen to the Vikings.

Marty Hurney is responsible for the Carolina Panthers drafting Cam Newton, Thomas Davis, Josh Norman, Jonathan Stewart, and Ryan Kalil.

MARTY HURNEY

Former GM

Panthers

He was let go in October 2012, after the Panthers had a bad start, and Carolina might have been too quick on the trigger.

Hurney, who has been working in radio since he was axed, drafted a core crew of players that now has the Panthers among the NFL’s best teams in 2015.

Cam Newton, Thomas Davis, Josh Norman, Jonathan Stewart, Ryan Kalil — all were Hurney picks.

He was a front-office co-pilot alongside great GM Bobby Beathard at San Diego.

LIONEL VITAL

Director of player personnel

Falcons

Had an interview a year ago when the Buccaneers were hiring a new GM and has a fine track record, having worked with Bill Belichick (Patriots) and Ozzie Newsome (Ravens).

Vital is 52 and scouted for a host of NFL clubs, including the Patriots, where he worked also with Scott Pioli, who later became Chiefs GM, and Thomas Dimitroff, who now runs the Falcons.

TERRY McDONOUGH

Vice president, player personnel

Cardinals

Another of the Belichick-Newsome descendants, McDonough is a vintage scout who has worked every facet of college and NFL talent-snooping.

He had little luck in Jacksonville, in tandem with a bad Jaguars team, during his days as a personnel director there. But he should qualify for examination by a Lions team that intends to look far, wide and deep.

CHRIS BALLARD

Director of football operations

Chiefs

He has been a hot name, having once worked at Green Bay ahead of joining another ex-Packers disciple, GM John Dorsey, at Kansas City.

Ballard interviewed for the Bears GM job last winter and in spring was promoted from player personnel director to his football operations post. He previously was a longtime Bears scout.

lynn.henning@detroitnews.com

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