If there’s one question I always get from young people who love the game, it’s, “how do I become a scout?” Most often, they want to get into scouting because their ultimate goal is to be a GM. Shoot, I can relate. That was once my ambition, as well. 

With that in mind, I decided to look at the men hired this cycle. There’s no better gauge of what NFL teams are looking for than to look at who they hired. Five years ago, we took a detailed look at who was getting hired at the position, and found that teams sought people less than 50; with Patriots experience; and who had been around, but not necessarily a very long time.  

So what’s the profile of this season’s GM hires? Let’s take an alphabetical look at them.

Trent Baalke, Jaguars 

  • Age: 56
  • First NFL experience: 1998, Jets pro scout
  • Prior GM experience: 49ers, 2011-2016
  • Background: Baalke’s rise to the job in San Francisco, followed by his assumption of  the role in Jacksonville, has been pretty traditional. He’s got some pro experience with the Jets when he started out, but he’s mostly held a series of college scouting jobs since.

Nick Caserio, Texans

  • Age: 45
  • First NFL experience: 2001, Patriots personnel assistant
  • Prior GM experience: None
  • Background: Caserio is unique because he’s so well-rounded. Between being hired in New England in 2001 and taking over as Director of Player Personnel in 2008, he was an entry-level scout, an entry-level coach and an area scout for one year each. Then he was pro director for three seasons before jumping all the way to DPP, where he’d been for 13 seasons.

Scott Fitterer, Panthers

  • Age: 47
  • First NFL experience: 1998, Giants part-time scout
  • Prior GM experience: None
  • Background: Like Baalke, Fitterer followed an exclusively college scouting path as he climbed the ladder. Obviously, he’s had pro experience in his more recent senior roles in Seattle, but the lion’s share of his career has been on the college side. 

Terry Fontenot, Falcons

  • Age: 40
  • First NFL experience: 2003, Saints marketing intern
  • Prior GM experience: None
  • Background: Fontenot is unusual because he’s been exclusively on the pro side during his climb. Naturally, no scout does only college or pro, but he’s been decidedly more pointed toward pro scouting. He’s not unprecedented, though, as Bears GM Ryan Pace and former Lions GM Bob Quinn are two similar examples of pro-oriented hires.

Brad Holmes, Lions

  • Age: 41
  • First NFL experience: 2003, Rams public relations intern
  • Prior GM experience: None
  • Background: This is a hire I’m excited about, because Holmes is a scout’s scout. He’s done plenty of ‘road warrior’ work, all on the college side, moving from scouting assistant to combine scout to area, then national, scout. That’s the route most people perceive as the road to the GM chair, though it’s less and less likely to be true.

Martin Mayhew, Washington

  • Age: 55
  • First NFL experience: 1999, Redskins personnel intern
  • Prior GM experience: Lions, 2008-2015
  • Background: Mayhew has seen all sides of the game, having played in the NFL, served with the XFL in its first iteration, served as a cap guy, and worked for three organizations, gathering plenty of personnel experience with a team (49ers) that went to the Super Bowl last year. 

George Paton, Broncos 

  • Age: 50
  • First NFL experience: 1997, Bears scouting intern
  • Prior GM experience: None
  • Background: Paton, like Fontenot, has spent the majority of his career on the pro side. On the other hand, he’s spent more than a decade in a DPP role, so he’s gotten plenty of time on the college side, as well. That’s one reason he was seen as one of the most prepared candidates on the market. 

Conclusion: I like it when people who’ve paid their dues are rewarded, and we’ve seen that during this hiring cycle. We’ve also seen a refreshing respect for age; though Holmes and Fontenot are barely out of their 30s, the idea that no one past 45 gets hired is dead, at least for now. Here’s hoping all seven enjoy successful runs.