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Detroit Lions general manager candidates: Duke Tobin

Our first look at candidates for the Detroit Lions' general manager begins with the director of player personnel in Cincinnati.

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The Detroit Lions' have officially begun their search for a new general manager. In an effort to keep pace, we here at Pride of Detroit would also like to undertake our own search and it begins with an intriguing candidate out of Cincinnati: current director of player personnel for the Bengals: Duke Tobin.

His resume

Tobin (son of former Indianapolis Colts general manager Bill Tobin) has been around the Bengals for his entire professional career. After finishing his playing career in the Arena Football League in 1995, he joined the Bengals organization as a scout four years later. In 2002, just three years into his career as a scout, Tobin was promoted to his current position with the team: director of player personnel.

Since then, although his title hasn't changed, his responsibilities have. When Director of Football Operations Jim Lippincott retired in 2011, Tobin received some of his duties, as the position was never directly filled.

Current head coach Marvin Lewis spoke of Tobin's growth within the organization back at the NFL Combine in 2013:

"I’ve been very impressed with Duke from the very onset. He’s continued to grow. Mike has given him a great deal of responsibility and put him in charge of a lot of things," Lewis said. "He’s my liaison as far as what we do on the pro side, when we have injuries (during the season) and he’s directing the scouting efforts throughout and making sure that everything’s done and the cross-checks are done so we’re able to do everything we have to evaluate these guys."

Tobin likely would have been named general manager by now, if it weren't for the fact that owner Mike Brown assumes those duties.

Career accolades:
  • 13 years as the Bengals' director of player personnel
  • Drafted five Pro Bowl players since 2009
  • Part of the team that found Geno Atkins in the fourth round
  • Helped build a team that has been to four straight playoff appearances and a 48-23-1 record over the past 4.5 seasons

Tobin comes from a football family, but has done enough to make a name of his own. He has been an integral part in building one of the few consistently good teams of the past five years. His 13 years of experience has clearly taught him a lot, and the Bengals' draft record is proof. The Bengals' best value draft picks during Tobin's reign include Marvin Jones in the fifth, Geno Atkins in the fourth and George Iloka in the fifth.


The Bengals have become infamous for their risk-taking on poor character players. Cincinnati has taken chances on players like Adam "Pacman" Jones, Chris Henry, Rey Maualuga and Jerome Simpson, all to mixed results. However, as Cincy Jungle points out, much of the "Bengals thugs" narrative was overblown, and the character issues of the team seem to have almost completely disappeared by 2008 (Pacman Jones excluded).

The other concern with Tobin and the Bengals is that they have yet to take that next step. Even with all of the recent playoff appearances, the Bengals still have not won a playoff game since 1990 (longest drought in the NFL).


Tobin is still a relatively young guy (45), but one with plenty of experience. He has had a major hand in creating a consistent contender out of a team in despair. The Lions, on the other hand, have never been a consistent winner (they have never made the playoffs in four consecutive year).

Tobin in Detroit would make for a decent match, but you have to wonder if Tobin would be willing to make the move. He has been loyal to the Bengals for his entire career, and many believe he will be next in line to take over as general manager should Brown ever decided to relinquish the title.

Bonus: Check out Tobin talking about his scouting process back in 2014.

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