ESPN asked 45 of their NFL experts, such as reporters, analysts, and former players, to play general manager and rank five candidates who aren’t currently head coaches in the NFL whom they’d try to hire for their hypothetical franchise. So for example, voters could nominate Mike Leach because he is the current head coach at Washington State, but not Dan Quinn because he is the head coach of the NFL team the Atlanta Falcons.
The top five nominated coaches were:
- Jim Harbaugh, the current head coach at the University of Michigan. He was the former 49ers head coach.
- David Shaw, the Stanford Cardinal head coach, and former assistant for Ravens, Raiders, and Eagles.
- Josh McDaniels, the current New England Patriots offensive coordinator and the former Broncos head coach.
- Nick Saban, Alabama Crimson Tide head coach and former Dolphins head coach
- Jon Gruden, an ESPN analyst and former head coach of the Buccaneers and Raiders
Other nominees include: Mike Vrabel, Texans defensive coordinator, Pat Shurmur, Vikings offensive coordinator, Steve Wilks, Panthers defensive coordinator and Dabo Swinney, Clemson head coach.