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The 32 coaches most likely to get NFL head coaching jobs this winter

Josh McDaniels Tom Brady

Here's some fun offseason fodder for you: which coaches are best in position to grab an NFL head coaching gig this winter?

Thankfully, MMQB's Robert Klemko has done the legwork, speaking to 24 anonymous sources around the league, ranging from current coaches to former scouts to plugged-in reporters to front-office personnel. One thing to keep in mind in these types of studies: everything is highly subjective. Like the NFL Draft, all it takes is one, and No. 1 on one team's board may not be in the top 100 on another club's board. As one personnel man said: "We have owners and GMs that wouldn’t realize Vince Lombardi would be good if he was sitting in front of them."


Still, something emerging a consensus emerged. Place your money on Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase and Patriots OC Josh McDaniels getting head coaching jobs next season, because they were a 1A and 1B on the list. "He was Peyton Manning’s preferred coach and, despite being younger than the QB, was far from the yes-man that many of Manning’s coordinators become," Klemko writes of Gase. "This offseason, he reportedly turned down the 49ers job because he wouldn’t be allowed to pick his own defensive coordinator. Instead, he followed John Fox to Chicago, leaving behind a legendary QB to work with a middling one."

On McDaniels: "[A]fter pushing the envelope with New England’s record-breaking offense, McDaniel is holding out for a team with solid management structure. Word is, he was humbled sufficiently by his first experience as a head coach, leading many to believe he could follow mentor Bill Belichick’s career path."

Four college head coaches made the list: UCLA's Jim Mora at No. 4, Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin at No. 5, Stanford's David Shaw at No. 7... and Michigan's Jim Harbaugh all the way down at No. 26.

Excuse me, what?

Harbaugh sits five spots below Eric Mangini, who never won a playoff game in five seasons and left two franchises with a losing record. The same coach that came one complete pass away from winning a Super Bowl and played in three straight NFC title games now classifies as having "something to prove" according to many in the NFL.

As always, it's Harbaugh's ability to play nice in the sand box that those in the league question.“You could put him No. 1 or 36," one former GM told Klemko. "He is an acquired taste."

Anyway, it's a fun list to ponder and argue about. For instance, 62-year-old Mike Shanahan - whose second-to-last playoff win came with John Elway at quarterback, in Tim Duncan's second year in the NBA - is apparently higher on the radar than 42-year-old Dennis Allen, who apparently committed the mortal sin of not being able to fix the Oakland Raiders. He didn't even make Klemko's 26-man Also Receiving Votes category.

Check the piece out for yourself here.