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NFL Draft Hangover: Redskins Select Brandon Scherff

Brandon Scherff

Scot McCloughan is so damn good. Even if you didn’t like the Redskins selecting Brandon Scherff with last night’s fifth overall picka, it’s impossible to actually hate it. You may have preferred Leonard Williams after he surprisingly fell past Oaklandb, but Scherff checks every single box for not only McCloughan, but for the Redskins’ improving efforts on all levels.

And assuming reports are true, McCloughan stuck with the draft strategy he said he would. According to NFL.com’s Albert Breer, Scherff was atop the Redskins’ board when their name was called to make a selection.

A few notes and nuggets regarding Brandon Scherff as the Redskins’ top pick in 2015:

* We’re not sure how the rest of the draft unfolds for Washington, but the Redskins improved the surroundings for Robert Griffin III, further establishing the support behind him as he heads into next season. Had Amari Cooper been the Redskins pick, we would’ve been talking about the same thing — providing Griffin with every opportunity to shine in 2015. McCloughan is straight-face serious about seeing what Griffin can do and deciding how to move forward at the quarterback position.

* Judging a draft pick is also easier when your team has multiple areas to improve and just about any position is viable with your top pick. Such is the case in Washington, where upgrading the offensive line was addressing an area of need.

* “When you get done playing [the Redskins], you know you’re playing them. You’re going to feel it. I want those guys,” McCloughan said, according to Tom Schad of the Washington Times.

Quotes like that make me giddy. Not only because that’s the sound of a true football mind leading up your favorite team’s front office, but also because that mission was achieved in the first round with a guy like Scherff who will bring a new attitude to the offensive line and a heavy dose of nasty for new offensive line coach Bill Callahan to coach and groom.

* Would the Redskins have preferred to trade back and still land Scherff? Uhh, yeah I’m sure. But it takes two to make a deal and perhaps it wasn’t worth the risk. If the Redskins trade back and acquire more picks, but as a result land behind, say, the Giants at nine, it’s a safe bet New York takes Scherff instead of Ereck Flowers and suddenly the Redskins are moving down their board. So when we’re discussing value here, I think the Redskins score well. They got a position they wanted, a player they wanted, and a high-floor/safe guy in Scherff. After the dude starts a dozen seasons in the NFL, no one will talk about how No. 5 was “just too high”.

  1. …which you SHOULD like it. Like, a lot.  (back)
  2. I’m a Leonard fan too.  (back)

NFL Draft: Weighing the Redskins’ Options at No. 5

scot mccloughan 2

As time ticks down to the start of the 2015 NFL draft, being a Redskins fan suddenly doesn’t feel the same this year. Not only is having a first-round selection after going two consecutive years without one a nice change of scenery, but competency in the front office by way of new general manager Scot McCloughan also helps to reassure the organization is in good hands (at least from a roster development standpoint).

Given that they hold the fifth-overall pick, as well as a disastrous 4-12 record from a season ago, the Redskins could/should/maybe will have a number of different ways to go by the time their name is called on Thursday night. And while the entire idea of mock drafts is nothing more than a laughable game of darts and guesses (here’s our latest version, by the way), the following is meant to form a list of possibilities for Washington at No. 5 and rank them from least likely (10) to most likely (1).

The Redskins are one team I really don’t know what they’ll do. Scot McCloughan keeps it pretty close to the vest.

– League executive regarding the draft’s top-ten [source]

* * * *

10. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Ever since McCloughan mentioned that he and his staff wouldn’t rule out a quarterback at No. 5, the Mariota-to-Washington thing (if you can even call it a thing) has been somewhat of a hot topic.

Sure, you could argue a need at the quarterback position in Washington, but this feels more like strategic posturing than anything. It’d be silly for McCloughan — who has admitted interest in acquiring more picks in this draft — to completely write off his own team’s interest in a prospect that should/would/will garner a potential trade-up opportunity. He’s keeping things interesting, maintaining a poker face, and making things a little tougher on contending front offices.

9. Bud Dupree, EDGE, Kentucky

With his freakish athleticism and natural twitch, Bud Dupree is one of the more intriguing pass rushers in this draft, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Redskins address the position this early on.

At this point in the draft, however, you’re assuming either Dante Fowler Jr., Vic Beasley, or possibly both are still available, and I think both of those guys rank higher on boards due to them both having a higher floor than Dupree. As mentioned in the scouting report, there’s a ton to like about Dupree, but he’s rawer than others at this stage in his career.

8. Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

Although no position would truly be a surprise in this draft, it seems like drafting a wideout would draw the most inadvertent WTFs amongst the Twitterverse. People see Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson and wrongfully assume the position is solidified. Look a bit further down the depth chart and you’ll notice that, after those guys, there isn’t much left to wow you. Not to mention, adding a threatening red zone target wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

Kevin White is the complete package in terms of size, strength, speed, and ball skills. At 6’3″, 215 pounds, White would immediately become the team’s most lethal target in a number of areas and he’d fit the criteria of the front office looking to surround Robert Griffin III with as much talent as possible.

7. La’El Collins, OT, LSU

Upgrading the offensive line with power and size is on the menu with McCloughan and new offensive line coach Bill Callahan in the kitchen, and there should be plenty of bulldozer talent to choose from at No. 5.

With Trent Williams at left tackle, La’El Collins would likely slide in as your starter along the right side. He has quick feet to go along with a powerful frame and the ability to swallow oncoming defenders so long as his technique is sound.

And depending on how the Redskins view his athleticism, they may even view Collins as a mauler at the guard position. The only trouble there, however, would be the idea that drafting a guard at No. 5 is too high. Whether McCloughan gives a hoot about such theory is yet to be seen.

6. Leonard Williams, DL, Southern Cal

Regardless of what your team needs, whether you’re picking first or 32nd, Leonard Williams is an upgrade to your team’s roster. At 6’5″, 300 pounds, Williams is an imposing and forceful load along the defensive front, and he very well may have the highest floor of any top-rated prospect in this class. Even with their recent free agent additions up front, the Redskins clearly fall into play here.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to imagine Williams making it past Oakland at 4. His talent is deserving of the first-overall pick and every team picking before the Redskins (TEN, JAX, OAK) could easily benefit from his services.

If he’s there for the Redskins at 5, great — I just wouldn’t count on it.

5. Shane Ray, EDGE, Missouri

There’s a wide range of opinion when it comes to Shane Ray. On the one end, people see Ray as the best pure pass rusher in this class and they use his game tape to prove it. On the other end, many view Ray as limited due to his lack of versatility and size.

Although I tend to lean toward the former (you can check out the scouting report here), I recognize the latter as well. For what it’s worth though, I don’t think it affects Ray’s stock much. Teams who look to add him are going after a guy they can throw on the field to hunt the quarterback and go full speed at all times. Ray gives you that.

What may affect Ray’s stock, however, is his latest citation for marijuana possession just three days before the draft. As it is in most situations like these, it’s not exactly the drug choice that teams are worried about, but rather the judgement. What does it say about the guy if he’s this careless only days before (possibly) earning millions of dollars?

The Redskins could use some beef to rush the passer, but Ray’s recent run-in may not bode well for a perfect fit in Washingtona.

4. Brandon Scherff, OL, Iowa

Arguably one of the safest names on this list, Brandon Scherff would immediately bolster the Redskins offensive line. Coaches would have their choice as to whether to play him at right tackle — where he has plenty of strength and athleticism to win — or kick him inside to guard and perhaps get the best return on their investment.

You’ll hear stuff about No. 5 being entirely too early to draft a guard (if you see him as that), but in terms of what McCloughan covets in a lineman, Scherff checks all of the boxes — high floor, solid worker, tough as nails, big and strong.

If the Redskins go offensive line at No. 5, my money’s on them doing so with Scherff.

3. Dante Fowler Jr., EDGE, Florida

When it comes to edge rushers, Dante Fowler Jr’s name probably sits atop a fair share of team’s boards. He has great size, athleticism, versatility, and effort, all of which will translate seamlessly to the NFL, and he may tote the highest ceiling of any pass rusher in the draft. Check out the rest of the scouting report here.

Fowler would be a great fit in Washington, and we know the Second-Team All-American has recently visited Ashburn for a private workout. It’d be hard to see the Redskins passing on Fowler if he’s there, unless of course they liked another edge rusher just a bit more.

2. Vic Beasley, EDGE, Clemson

If the Jaguars go with an edge rusher at No. 3, my gut says they go Dante Fowler, in which case the Redskins should have their stab at Vic Beasley — an explosive athlete with underrated power and good balance. While arguably not as versatile as Fowler, Beasley is very good at what you’re drafting him to do, and that’s getting after the quarterback.

It’d be interesting to see how the Redskins react with both Fowler and Beasley sitting there at No. 5, but that situation doesn’t seem likely. Either guy would fit the bill of improving the pass rush in Washington, but Beasley gets my nod based off (anticipated) availability and overall talent level (although it’s close).

1. Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

Availability, best player available, improving your roster, improving your current players — throw all those things into an equation machine for the Redskins and you’re likely coming up with a product named Amari Cooper.

Touted as a can’t-miss prospect, Cooper has the full package in terms of speed, hands, and route running. He has great feet combined with a good understanding of coverage and his potential is that of a quarterback’s best friend.

Kevin White may be the flashier name atop the receiver board, but Cooper is the more sure thing. If McCloughan really goes into this thing with BPA mentality, it’d be hard to argue anyone over Cooper if he’s still there at 5.

 

  1. And despite the weed thing, I still don’t see Ray getting past Atlanta.  (back)

Contract Option or Not, RG3 Sets Out to Prove Himself in 2015

Robert Griffin III

In an interview with NFL.com’s Jeff Darlington, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III talked about his offseason preparations, the way of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, and the looming deadline in which Washington will choose whether or not to pickup the fifth-year option of his rookie deal.

On if he’d be upset if the Redskins chose not to pickup his option; which would guarantee Griffin $16 million in 2016 regardless of injury:

I wouldn’t be bummed,” Griffin said. “Either way, we’re going out there to prove it this upcoming year — not next year. I just want to win. I want to win games and have fun doing it. The rest will take care of itself. They can pick up the option — or they can decide not to pick up the option. It’ll work out either way. I’m focused on this year.

Another good one from Griffin was after talking about Tom Brady and the efficient way in which the Patriots operate, he refers back to Brady and other great quarterbacks who he can study and learn from:

I’ll continue to watch tape on him and (Aaron) Rodgers and Peyton (Manning), and see how they go about the game. I’m not going to mimic their game — I just need to better my own. You can’t be somebody else. You need to accept who you are — and understand your style of play. Not everyone is going to play the game like I do. I’ve got to do it my way.

And that’s a bit ironic, considering former Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan was the guy (presumably) behind the idea that Griffin plays the game a different way and that the offense should cater to his talents (see: Griffin’s 2012 rookie season). But according to Mike Shanahan’s interview from a couple months ago, it was Griffin who demanded the offense be changed.

The draft needs to hurry up and be here now.

RG3 on Gruden: “Players are Going to Hold Him to His Commitment”

rg3 jay gruden

Nothing to see here. Just your typical plucking of frustrating/awkward comments from the latest sit-down with Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III.

Most recently with Larry Michael [source].

When asked about his relationship with Redskins head coach Jay Gruden, Griffin said, “Jay came in here with the plan to help develop me as a quarterback, and help this team win. He wants me to go out there and be the quarterback he knows I can be, and I will be.”

He also added, “My job is not to characterize or judge him as a coach”.

And then (my favorite), “He’s going to hold me to my commitment to him, and the players are going to hold him to his commitment to us.”

We’re only in April.

Redskins Land S Dashon Goldson in Trade with Buccaneers

dashon goldson

General manager Scot McCloughan continued his mission to drastically improve the Redskins defense in 2015, trading for veteran safety Dashon Goldson on Friday.

Goldson is coming off a horrible 2014 season in Tampa Bay (Pro Football Focus rated him -14.5 for the year) and is already 30 years old. However, he’s a McCloughan guy, having been drafted in 2007 by the San Francisco 49ers, and the Redskins didn’t give up a ransom to land Goldson.

When it comes to money, Goldson isn’t exactly cheap (at least in terms of his recent production).

According to Pro Football Talk, “Goldson, who signed with the Buccaneers as a free agent in 2013, has a $7.5 million base salary for 2015. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, there wasn’t much of a market for Goldson — and he would have been cut by the Buccaneers but for the emergence of a trade partner in Washington. Which likely means that Goldson may be restructuring his deal in Washington.”

The Redskins will be on the hook for $4 million ($3.5M + $500k workout bonus) this season in exchange for Goldson’s services.

This move from McCloughan is unlike his others this offseason, as Goldson is an older player, somewhat pricey, and underperforming the past couple seasons. But the secondary in Washington needed more than a couple upgrades, or at least shots at improvement.

Signing Goldson shouldn’t bring too much excitement; but no reason to hate it either.

NFL Free Agency: Redskins Sign Jeron Johnson

jeron johnson

Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan — who has rightfully earned the nickname The Ninja — continues to shape Washington’s defense this offseason, signing former Seattle Seahawks safety Jeron Johnson to a two-year, $4 million deal, according to reports.

It’s another point for the defense, as Johnson joins Ricky Jean Francois, Terrance Knighton, Stephen Paea, and Chris Culliver as the Redskins’ top additions since free agency began less than a week ago.

1. Stickin’ to the plan. It may sound like a broken record at this point, but it’s the result of Redskins fans not being accustomed to quality contracts, promising players, and long-term franchise goals. Since McCloughan discussed his plan during his introductory press conference as the team’s general manager earlier this year, he’s done exactly what he said he would.

2. The money. Like the other contracts we’ve seen dished out by the front office so far, this one for Johnson is a fair one. Clearly it’s inexpensive, but also perfect for a backup who may have some potential, but who needs to be given a chance in order to see if he’s deserving of a long-term starting spot and the contract to reflect it. Additionally, there’s very minimal risk. If Johnson doesn’t cut it at safety, he remains a proven asset on special teams.

3. The fit. He fits because the Redskins secondary was terrible last season. From notes and reports, Johnson sounds like a more of a strong safety than a free safety, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him at either position; McCloughan is likely a fan of safeties who can play both spots. Not to mention, Johnson has played about four games worth of snaps in his career; are we really going to call him one kind of safety or the other at this point? Let’s wait and see. And again, in addition to his potential at safety, Johnson is a solid contributor on special teams.

4. The player. Johnson has only one start under his belt since signing with the Seahawks after going undrafted in 2011 out of Boise State, but he’s built a reputation on special teams. His ties to McCloughan may have given Washington a leg up in negotiations (or maybe not). For a signing like this, we’re excited more so about potential and cost than we are about past performance — and that’s far from a bad thing.

NFL Free Agency: Redskins Sign CB Chris Culliver

chris culliver

The Washington Redskins continue to move through NFL free agency with competency, wisdom, and responsibility, signing cornerback Chris Culliver on Friday to a four-year deal worth $32 million.

While the signings of defensive linemen Stephen Paea and Terrance Knighton were/are well received, this Culliver deal may take the cake as most exciting.

1. Stickin’ to the plan. There’s been a noticeable pattern so far with the Redskins’ free agent signings — average age, 27. New general manager Scot McCloughan isn’t only addressing areas of need, but also doing so with young(er) talent, rather than spending on old heads who are past their prime, firmly stuck in their ways, or both.

2. The money. It seems a bit high at first, but assume Culliver the starter opposite Bashaud Breeland moving forward and it’s not so bad for a starting corner. Again, he’s young, so there’s no issue with contract length, and the structure of the deal works in Washington’s favor.

3. The fit. Remember how much we laughed at this defensive unit a season ago? Scot McCloughan is doing his best to correct that. While remaining patient with David Amerson wouldn’t necessarily be frowned upon, there shouldn’t be much question as to Culliver being the starter opposite Breeland. Culliver probably won’t offer much in the run game (I say that based off stats only), but he’s a good athlete with ball skills and solid coverage numbers to back it up.

4. The player. According to Pro Football Focus, Culliver finished last season with a rating of 8.2 in coverage, which was good for tenth amongst cornerbacks having played at least 60 percent of their teams’ snapsa. He finished with six pass deflections and four interceptions on the year, and quarterbacks posted a rating of just 66.5 when throwing into Culliver’s coverage, which was fourth-best behind the likes of Vontae Davis, Chris Harris Jr., and Richard Sherman; and ahead of guys like Aqib Talib and Darrelle Revis. That said, he does come with a decent share of off-the-field run-ins, all of which can be learned about here. From a talent/need/money/fit standpoint, this is another good deal for the Redskinsb.

  1. Culliver missed two games due to injury  (back)
  2. And yes, I agree — it feels extremely weird to continue to praise Redskins front office moves. But maybe we should get used to it…?  (back)

Redskins Sign Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton

Terrance Knighton

Former Denver Broncos defensive lineman Terrance Knighton visited Washington on a Wednesday afternoon. By Thursday evening he became the newest member of the Redskins, inking a one-year deal worth a reported $4 million.

Similar to the Stephen Paea deal earlier in the week, the addition of Knighton won’t tip the scales or send Twitter into a tailspin; but it’s an encouraging deal for the Redskins.

1. Stickin’ to the plan. Not only is new general manager Scot McCloughan building from the inside out, but he’s also refusing to break the bank.

2. The money. One year, $4 million. It’s smart. It’s a bargain.

3. The fit, which means Paea is your end opposite Jason Hatcher, and Pot Roast gets the nod at nose tackle. Ironically enough, Chris Baker (who is a childhood friend of Knighton’s and who helped with the lineman’s recruitment) looks to be the team’s first rotational guy.

4. The player. At 6’3″, 335 pounds, Knighton is true to the nose tackle position, and it’ll be nice for the Redskins to have a large cog in the middle drawing double teams and helping to clog running lanes. There’s some concern/talk regarding his weight and fitness level, none of which really concerns me as a fan. Knighton isn’t a three-down player, the team didn’t sink a ship to sign him, and he’ll be playing with lots of motivation in Washington, including trying to outdo his best friend (Baker), as well as working to earn his next contract.

NFL Free Agency: Redskins Sign Stephen Paea

Stephen Paea

The Redskins kicked off NFL free agency with a redefined role under new general manager Scot McCloughan. Instead of chasing huge names or throwing money around, Washington’s first move of the period was a quiet one, signing defensive lineman Stephen Paea to a four-year deal, according to reports.

As Redskins fans, we like this deal for a few reasons.

1. Stickin’ to the plan, as in the plan Scot McCloughan described during introductory press conference after being hired by the Redskins. The gist of it was more reliance on drafting than free agency, and this sort of a deal is on the quieter side and fiscally responsible, which leads into the next point…

2. The money. It’s a solid deal for the Redskins because they address a need (defensive line) with a young player (26) by way of a reasonable contract (four years for a reported $21 million; $15 million guaranteed).

3. The fit, which sounds like it’ll be mostly at defensive end, and then inside on passing downs. The good news, too, is Paea’s intrigue and excitement about his own fit with his new team, saying, “Other teams were offering me a little bit more, but the way Washington would use me in their defense was the reason I chose Washington.”

4. The player. Because Stephen Paea is good. At 6’1″, 305 pounds, Paea is extremely strong, he’s disciplined, and he’s especially athletic (former rugby player). For a guy his size, he’s quick off the line and skilled enough to put all of his best traits together in order to disrupt the quarterback. As insider John Keim mentions, new defensive coordinator Joe Barry and the Redskins would like their ends to play more as one-gap defenders moving forward, which means Paea’s combined skills bode well for his new role in Washington.

Redskins Sign Niles Paul Ahead of NFL Free Agency

According to reports, Paul’s new deal could be worth up to $10 million (with incentives) over three years.

This is a solid move for the Redskins. With teams like Miami and Atlanta rumored to be interested in Paul, Washington gets to business early and brings back an improving pass-catching tight end, as well as a valuable special teams player. We all know how talented fellow tight end Jordan Reed is, and Paul can serve as a weapon on offense as well.

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