1. John Schneider, Seattle Seahawks
His methods are unorthodox, but they’ve gotten results. Schneider spent his first two seasons in Seattle turning over the roster like a farmer tills soil until finding the right mix of players. Along the way, he found a blue-chip cornerback from the CFL (Brandon Browner) and robbed Buffalo in a trade for one of the NFL’s top running backs (Marshawn Lynch). Even one of the bigger mistakes Schneider made this offseason — signing quarterback Matt Flynn away from Green Bay in free agency to a three-year, $19.5 million contract — was mitigated by his third-round selection of starter Russell Wilson in last April’s draft. That 2012 class also has provided the top rookie in sacks (Bruce Irvin), the second-leading tackler (Bobby Wagner) and a quality backup running back (Robert Turbin). The Seahawks also have almost all of their top players under contract through at least 2013. 2. Rick Smith, Houston Texans
It’s easy to take general managers from winning teams for granted. That’s why Smith will likely get overlooked in consideration for NFL Executive of the Year. He shouldn’t. Smith adroitly maneuvered the Texans through salary-cap issues before the start of free agency by re-signing running back Arian Foster to a long-term contract, releasing popular right tackle Eric Winston and declining to use the franchise tag on Mario Williams, who then left to Buffalo in free agency. The departures of Winston and Williams haven’t hurt the Texans. Some of the money Smith saved was then used to help sign quarterback Matt Schaub and left tackle Duane Brown to contract extensions. The Texans also are getting yield from six members of their 2012 draft class, including outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus (six sacks). And the most important result of all – Houston enters this weekend’s games with an AFC-best 12-2 record. - Alex Marvez
(AP Photos: John Froschauer/David J. Phillip) Courtesy of FOXSports.comThe opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.