Picking future coaches on all 32 NFL rosters

You’re already aware of the 25 college football players who could be future head coaches, so it makes sense that we pinpoint NFL players who could have promising careers as sideline generals.

NFL Nation reporters selects the future head coaches for all 32 teams:

AFC East | AFC North | AFC South | AFC West
NFC East | NFC North | NFC South | NFC West


Buffalo Bills

Center Eric Wood

I asked coach Rex Ryan this question recently, and he had to think about it for several moments. His choice was Wood, who Ryan says is “smart as heck” and has a presence around his teammates. Ryan also believed that an offensive lineman becoming a head coach isn’t far-fetched in an age when Mike Munchak, Doug Marrone and other former O-linemen have ascended the coaching ranks. — Mike Rodak

Miami Dolphins

Safety Michael Thomas

Thomas has his sights set on business after football — he earned his MBA degree in May — but he is well-suited to become a future coach. He is a smart, hard-working player who had to grind every season to earn a roster spot, and often those types are better suited than star players to teach football after retirement. Thomas should be successful in any future career path he chooses. — James Walker

New England Patriots

Safety Devin McCourty

McCourty is the perfect combination of leader and intelligent X’s and O’s guy to fit the bill as a future head coach if he decided to pursue a career in the field. “He’s done a tremendous job of developing his career, both as a corner to a safety and as a defensive back. His commitment to the team as a team captain [and] the leadership he gives us on and off the field is really at the very top,” coach Bill Belichick recently said. “He’s one of the players that we all look to, and he’s given us a great example of being unselfish, being a great teammate, being someone who will help others because of his position.” — Mike Reiss

New York Jets

Linebacker David Harris

Harris is the brains of the defense, and the feeling around the team is that he has the intelligence and demeanor to be a head coach. Harris isn’t a vocal leader, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a coach. Exhibit A: Todd Bowles. Harris has the even-tempered demeanor and intelligence to get the job done. — Rich Cimini


Baltimore Ravens

Running back Justin Forsett

He’s more than a runner who has a feel for the Ravens’ stretch zone-blocking scheme. Forsett has been a guiding force for a running back group that (besides him) is filled with players 25 or younger. He showed off his coaching skills this offseason, when he traveled to Italy to lead a football clinic. “Justin is a tremendous leader by example and willing to step up as both a leader and mentor,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said. — Jamison Hensley

Cincinnati Bengals

Linebacker Vontaze Burfict

Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther has gone on record often saying he would hire Burfict for a coaching job once the linebacker’s playing career ends. It’s understandable. Burfict is one of the smartest players on the Bengals’ roster and one of the most studious ones. Not only does he have above average comprehension of his position, but he also knows what other defensive players are supposed to do in every scheme the Bengals employ. Although Burfict’s aggressive, line-toeing tactics have made him a pariah as a player, they might make him a shrewd coach. Another quality future Bengals coaching candidate? Cornerback Adam Jones, but he has already shot down that idea by saying he’d prefer to scout. — Coley Harvey

Cleveland Browns

Quarterback Josh McCown

McCown could be a coach tomorrow. The Browns’ quarterback is bright, understands the game and competition, is a good teammate and represents himself and his team well. Those are all traits for a winning coach. It does not take much to see McCown, if he wants, moving into an assistant’s role soon after he retires and growing from there. — Pat McManamon

Pittsburgh Steelers

Safety Mike Mitchell

Although Mitchell sat out much of offseason workouts because of an injury, he was still on the field for every moment, encouraging and instructing defensive back teammates. During 11-man work, he often stood alongside defensive backs coach Carnell Lake to view the action. Mitchell enhances locker room chemistry, and coach Mike Tomlin often turns to him as one of his defensive quarterbacks. The two have a tight relationship. Mitchell is a solid choice for post-NFL coaching. — Jeremy Fowler


Houston Texans

Cornerback Johnathan Joseph

Joseph, who is smart and understands people as well as he understands defenses, has in the past expressed interest in coaching. For several years, he has been teaching younger players as the elder statesman of the Texans’ secondary. — Tania Ganguli

Indianapolis Colts

Safety Mike Adams

Adams will be good enough to be hired on a staff shortly after he retires. He’s a motivator, he’s a leader, and he knows the entire defense. The Colts’ coaching staff gives Adams the freedom to teach the young defensive players. What will also help Adams, who is headed into his 14th NFL season, is that he wasn’t a high draft pick. In fact, he wasn’t even drafted, so he knows what it takes to have a long and successful career because nothing was given to him. “Great mentor, a ton of knowledge, obviously, and experience,” coach Chuck Pagano said. “He does a great job with those guys. We have the luxury because he’s got so many snaps and experience and time under his belt that we can take him out of there and kind of let him be another coach on the field and be a coach in the room.” — Mike Wells

Jacksonville Jaguars

Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny

The coaching staff calls Posluszny another coach on the field, so he’s the most logical choice. Posluszny is tutoring rookie Myles Jack, just the way he did with Telvin Smith two seasons ago. He knows Jack will eventually be his replacement, but he also knows Jack can help the Jaguars win games — and right now, that’s the most important thing, especially considering that in his nine seasons, Posluszny has never played on a team that finished with a winning record. — Mike DiRocco

Tennessee Titans

Quarterback Matt Cassel

Tight end Anthony Fasano felt like a good answer to me. But he said he lacks the patience to deal with young players and isn’t interested in the time-commitment at the upper levels. He pointed to Cassel. “He’s been around a lot of offenses, a lot of teams, a lot of good coaches,” Fasano said. “Knows the game, is personable, is kind of like a chameleon. He can fit into any crowd. He’s got a carefree attitude, but when it’s time to work, he works.” — Paul Kuharsky


Denver Broncos

Cornerback Chris Harris Jr.

When Peyton Manning roamed the Broncos’ locker room, the feeling was that he could be a coach at that moment. A demanding, unrelenting coach, but his teammates always considered him a rare resource who could lead a team. The current locker room doesn’t feature a slam-dunk, unanimous choice, but Harris was mentioned by several teammates as having at least the temperament, knowledge of the game and ability to relate to people needed to be a head coach. Harris is a player who came the long way to be among the league’s elite at his position, and several teammates say he understands people. — Jeff Legwold

Kansas City Chiefs

Fullback Anthony Sherman

Andy Reid himself picked fullback Anthony Sherman as a future head coach when his playing days are finished. “He’s a sharp guy, and I think he’d be a tremendous head coach,” Reid said. Sherman has fashioned a nice NFL career out of limited ability. He is a solid blocker but made himself into an effective receiver because of his understanding of defenses. Sherman has also become a strong special teams player. — Adam Teicher

Oakland Raiders

Quarterback Matt McGloin

Quarterback is the most important position in team sports, so it stands to reason that a QB would make that transition after his playing days are finished. In Oakland, the Scranton Scrapper fits the bill. McGloin is seen by many as having endured enough in his playing career, from QB controversies at Penn State to starting in the NFL and sticking to the roster, to impart his wisdom upon youngsters. It is easy to see McGloin as a high school coach in the mold of Coach Taylor from “Friday Night Lights.” — Paul Gutierrez

San Diego Chargers

Quarterback Philip Rivers

Rivers plays quarterback like a coach, which should come as no surprise because his father, Steve Rivers, was his high school football coach in Alabama. Philip Rivers says he wants to follow in his father’s footsteps and coach high school football once his playing days are over. — Eric D. Williams


Dallas Cowboys

Tight end Jason Witten

Whenever Witten decides to retire, he is without question the most likely candidate on the Cowboys. He knows not only his position but also every position on offense and defense. That’s rare. He understands the emotion needed to play the game. He understands how to push and prod his teammates. “He does everything the way you want it done,” receiver Cole Beasley said. “I’ve never seen a guy who emulates the practice-how-you-play thing more than him.” He broke into the game with Bill Parcells, so he would have Parcells-like motivation with the tactical expertise to go with it. — Todd Archer

New York Giants

Running back Rashad Jennings

The Giants don’t have a lot of established veterans, but one guy who definitely relishes the role of teaching and molding the younger players is Jennings. An offbeat sort of guy who has other off-field pursuits, such as writing, Jennings might not be inclined toward coaching when his career is over. But of the players on the Giants’ roster right now, I think he’d probably be the best suited for it. — Dan Graziano

Philadelphia Eagles

Quarterback Chase Daniel

The obvious answer here is Daniel, the backup quarterback acquired during free agency. Daniel is here to play the role Doug Pederson played for Andy Reid back in 1999. Pederson, of course, is now the head coach of the team. Daniel’s football IQ and lack of on-field accomplishment combine to make him a prime coaching candidate when his career is over. — Phil Sheridan

Washington Redskins

Quarterback Colt McCoy

Several players would be good choices, including defensive lineman Kedric Golston, safety/corner Will Blackmon, tight end Logan Paulsen and quarterback Kirk Cousins. But the choice goes to the backup quarterback. McCoy is smart and respected, and he has coaching blood in his genes; his grandfather Burl coached the Abilene Christian University women’s basketball team. “He’d be great,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said, “and everyone gets along with him.” — John Keim


Chicago Bears

Kicker Robbie Gould

Gould lives and breathes special teams. And he has played under some of the best special teams coaches in football — Dave Toub, Joe DeCamillis and Brad Seely — since he entered the NFL in 2005. Given Gould’s passion for the third phase, plus his impressive on-field credentials — Gould is Chicago’s all-time leading scorer — there is no doubt that he could transition to the coaching side when his playing career ends. — Jeff Dickerson

Detroit Lions

Quarterback Dan Orlovsky

Orlovsky has spent a decade in the NFL, sometimes as a starting quarterback and other times holding a clipboard. Although he has expressed an interest in moving into the broadcast booth when he’s done playing (he did a segment during UConn football pregame shows in 2014), he possesses the intelligence, savvy and quotability to be a good leader when he’s finished playing. — Michael Rothstein

Green Bay Packers

Linebacker Clay Matthews III

Matthews might have been joking when he said this offseason that playing both inside linebacker and outside linebacker “gave me a different view of understanding the defense, so that way, when I become an awesome D-coordinator, I’ll know what I’m talking about, rather than just rushing the quarterback.” However, there is a coaching history in Matthews’ family that he perhaps will follow. His uncle Bruce followed a Hall of Fame career by getting into coaching and most recently worked on the Houston Texans staff. The younger Matthews has been around the game his whole life. His father, Clay Jr., played 19 seasons in the NFL, including 11 after Clay III was born. — Rob Demovsky

Minnesota Vikings

Linebacker Chad Greenway

Greenway is likely only a year from retirement, and though the 33-year-old is busy enough with his three daughters that he might not want to take on something with the time requirements of a head coach, he has the temperament to do it. Greenway has become a trusted mentor for the Vikings’ linebackers, and coach Mike Zimmer has said Greenway will always be one of his favorites. Considering Greenway is planning to keep his family in the Twin Cities, it’s possible he could wind up coaching high schoolers in the area at some point. — Ben Goessling


Atlanta Falcons

Linebacker Paul Worrilow

Worrilow has a sharp mind, which is why he’s been able to hold down the starting job despite not being the fastest or most athletic guy on the field. His intelligence definitely could translate into a future in coaching. In fact, Falcons coach Dan Quinn allowed Worrilow and cornerback Desmond Trufant to make the defensive play calls for a portion of 11-on-11 drills during the final day of minicamp. Worrilow has the look of a coach too. — Vaughn McClure

Carolina Panthers

Linebacker Luke Kuechly

There are several good candidates, but I have to go with Kuechly. He’s already like a coach on the field at the middle linebacker position. He spends as much or more time breaking down film as any coach in the league. He understands offenses as well as he does defenses. He also has the personality to be a coach — even-keeled, never says the wrong thing or something to antagonize the opposition. He’d be a natural. — David Newton

New Orleans Saints

Linebacker James Laurinaitis

I asked quite a few people this question, and the consensus was that Roman Harper, Zach Strief and Laurinaitis were the best candidates because of their passion for the game, knowledge of the game and leadership qualities. But all three of them said coaching is not in their plans, mostly because they appreciate the time it requires. Laurinaitis said he definitely plans to stay around the game, though, and could see himself coaching at the high school level. What I found interesting was that coach Sean Payton said you never know for sure which players will gravitate toward coaching — and even the players themselves don’t always know. — Mike Triplett

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Wide receiver Louis Murphy

Murphy told me he could see himself coaching. He said it doesn’t matter if it’s Pop Warner, high school, college or the pros — it’s all about impact. “Helping young kids and changing their lives for the better” is the big draw for him. His mother, Filomena Murphy, who died from breast cancer in 2008, spent her life working with troubled youth in Florida’s Pinellas County, and it rubbed off on her son. He started his charity, 1st Downs 4 Life, to honor her, and each year he puts on a free football camp for kids in the area. — Jenna Laine


Arizona Cardinals

Quarterback quarterback Drew Stanton

This answer would’ve been obvious a few months ago, before cornerback Jerraud Powers became a free agent. With Powers gone, Stanton has what it takes to be a head coach. As mostly a career backup quarterback, he has studied and learned the game more than he has played it, which gives him a general and specific perspective at the same time. With the Cardinals, Stanton has been used as a mouthpiece for coach Bruce Arians to get to starting quarterback Carson Palmer at times, so he knows how to funnel a message to other players. He has also shown in his time in Arizona that he’s unwavering, having taken the reins of the Cardinals in 2014 during a tumultuous period when Palmer went down. — Josh Weinfuss

Los Angeles Rams

Running back Benjamin Cunningham

Cunningham has both the magnetic personality and football knowledge to become a coach. New Rams running backs coach Skip Peete recently told me Cunningham is one of those guys who might not have top-five running back talent but has made a career for himself in large part because he knows so much about the game and can instantly recognize what to do on any given play. “The one thing that guys like Benny, what separates them from other average guys is, one is the importance of the game and their ability to have knowledge of the game to do everything exactly right,” Peete said. “Eventually, you become so knowledgeable of the game that it’s almost to a point where you feel confident in them in anything.” Combine that with Cunningham’s ability to relate to just about anybody, and he could be a coach someday if he chooses. — Nick Wagoner

San Francisco 49ers

Tight end Bruce Miller

Miller was a linebacker and tight end in high school. He played defensive end at Central Florida. After five seasons as a standout fullback in the NFL, Miller is making the transition to tight end in coach Chip Kelly’s offense. With so much experience all over the field, and as a student of the game, Miller would make the perfect coach at the next stage of his career. — Paul Gutierrez

Seattle Seahawks

Cornerback Richard Sherman

Sherman was asked last season what he wants to do when he’s finished playing. “I want to stay around the game, talk football,” he said. “I might coach for a little while, but more than likely, just going to talk football.” Media will certainly be an option for Sherman, but coaching could scratch his competitive itch. He worked his way up from a fifth-round pick to an All-Pro. He is able to connect with teammates from different backgrounds. He often works with the Seahawks’ younger cornerbacks, and he seems to have a passion for the X’s and O’s. — Sheil Kapadia

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