He may not have the General Manager title listed on his resume, but Duke Tobin is getting the praise of one.
The Director of Player Personnel for the Cincinnati Bengals is coming off yet another productive free agency class and is preparing for the NFL Draft. The last two years have really enhanced his reputation around the NFL world, and that’s reflected in NFL.com analyst Gregg Rosenthal’s recent GM power rankings.
Tobin came in at eighth on the list.
Signing middle-class free agents and drafting college brand names from big programs is a strategy that is working well for Tobin. He has to take some grief for failing to solve an offensive line problem that precedes Zac Taylor, but this is the second Super Bowl-caliber roster Tobin has put together. (Check out that 2015 Bengals squad before Andy Dalton’s injury!)
As expected, Tobin is surrounded and behind good company. Notable names such as Les Snead of the Los Angeles Rams, Kevin Colbert of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Jason Licht of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ranked higher than Tobin, but Tobin is higher than Indianapolis Colts GM Chris Ballard and Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots.
Tobin has been at the forefront of Cincinnati’s evolution in which they approach free agency, but their draft strategy has remained largely consistent. They target prospects mostly on the younger side from big-time programs with a history of producing on the biggest stages. It’s a plan of attack that’s netted them favorable results in recent years, and that combined with poaching quality and affordable free agents from contending NFL clubs has been a Super Bowl-caliber combination.
Not even the 2015 squad Rosenthal mentioned compares to the current roster Tobin has put together. Attracting high-level veterans with a franchise quarterback in Joe Burrow has been the biggest difference, and Tobin’s been the architect behind it all.