Score two for John Dorsey, who has made a pair of significant additions to the Cleveland Browns' front office since the miserable 2017 season ended.
Both came from the Green Bay Packers, both are hard-core football guys.
The most recent was the hiring of Eliot Wolf, who will be the team’s assistant general manager. Previously Dorsey had hired Alonzo Highsmith as vice president of player personnel.
Typically front-office moves aren’t greeted with great excitement. Names and reputations are known, but usually the excitement comes with player additions. With the Browns, these hires matter as the team tries to climb out of the rubble of 0-16 and as the front-office emphasis returns to a more traditional model.
These are hires of two hard-core football types. Highsmith played for the Miami Hurricanes in their glory years, and spent six years in the NFL with Houston and Tampa Bay. He rose through the ranks of Green Bay’s front office for 19 years, starting as a scout and ending as a senior personnel executive.
Wolf is the son of Hall of Fame GM Ron Wolf. He also has worked his way up the ranks, starting as a scout. He then was promoted five times and most recently held the title of director of football operations.
Wolf was in demand this offseason. New Packers GM Brian Gutekunst offered him a job to stay in Green Bay as his top assistant, and Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie had offered him a job as well. A year ago, the 49ers were interested in hiring Wolf as their GM.
Because of his father, Wolf has been around football his entire life.
My colleague in Green Bay, Rob Demovsky, reports that Wolf wrote his first scouting report when he was 14. It was on linebacker Chad Scott, who Wolf said was a first-round pick. Scott became the 24th pick in the draft.
Eliot Wolf, Dorsey and Highsmith all worked together in Green Bay. Dorsey and Highsmith worked under Ron Wolf. Eliot Wolf was a regular around the team before he was hired.
Ron Wolf’s influence in the NFL grows. Wolf actually had a brief stay with the Browns as a consultant. Carmen Policy brought in Wolf to help Butch Davis in personnel, a move Policy considered a coup. But shortly after he was hired, Wolf left the Browns after Butch Davis publicly downplayed Wolf’s role in less than flattering terms.
Dorsey has made no secret that Wolf was his mentor, and that he follows Wolf’s principles. Among them: Treat people honestly and the way you want to be treated. If this incarnation of Packers south works, Browns fans will owe a debt of gratitude to the senior Wolf.
The Packers have been to the playoffs eight of the past nine years and nine of the past 11. Since the Browns returned in 1999, they’ve played one playoff game; the Packers in that time made 13 playoff appearances and won a Super Bowl.
Much of that success came because Green Bay had Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. That fact is not lost on Dorsey, who has emphasized that the NFL is a quarterback-driven league.
Wolf and Highsmith will join Andrew Berry in the personnel department, which already has taken on a heavier "football" presence under Dorsey.
Dorsey has said more than once that he believes analytics has a place, but his emphasis is 85 percent traditional football and scouting, 15 percent analytics -- or as he said it, 85 percent Atlanta Braves, 15 percent Oakland A’s.