Thursday, May 7, 2015

Redskins General Manager Scott McCloughan comments on 2015 NFL Draft

May 4, 2015
Redskins Park

General Manager Scot McCloughan

Opening statements:
“I just want to say, from a starting point, 10 picks was excellent. You guys know I wanted 10 picks. The process, being the first time for me being here with the scouts, the coaches, the owner, Bruce [Allen], was excellent. We hit what we wanted to hit from the standpoint of not just good football players on the field, but off the field as well. That’s very important to me. I think the character off the field plays into a player going from good to great, and great to special. It was very important to me, especially in my first draft, to let the Redskin community and fans and everybody out there know that we all take pride in this and we take ownership in it and we got better because of that. The whole character, and we got some really good football players.”

On the decision to select Brandon Scherff and what it means for Morgan Moses and Tom Compton:
Washington Redskins General Manager Scott McCloughan
“The thing about it which is great, as soon as we drafted him, everyone thinks ‘OK, he’s going to be your starting right tackle, your starting right guard.’ No, no. He’s got to come in and earn the job. From the standpoint of the player himself? The whole package. It’s what I look for. I’ve been lucky to be around this league a long time, and seen players succeed that have that much ability, but also throw the character in there – the passion, the competitiveness, the toughness he has. I wanted my first pick to be here, no matter what, somebody that’s not just an impressive player, but an impressive person and somebody you can build around. Not only does he come in as a good football player, guys around him will be better because of the way he approaches the game.”

On if Scherff could play guard at some point:
“You know what, the best five are going to be out there. We drafted him as a tackle. That’s what he played in college. If it ends up, all of a sudden, he plays four or five years, six, seven years of tackle and then moves in to guard, it doesn’t matter to me. What matters to me is getting the best five up front out there so we can win games.”

On if drafting players known for size and toughness was by design:
“Well, it’s my philosophy. It’s a long season, and like I said prior to the draft, it’s a big man’s game. But also, it just happens the way our board was set was with the big guys at any position. But also you can see with [Jamison] Crowder and with Kyshoen Jarrett, it’s a smaller body guy, but still a really good football player. So it works out the way it did. I wanted size, of course, but I also wanted the football player, the whole package. That’s why it fell that way.”

On his assessment of his personnel staff and the draft process:
“I have assessed it, and I’m going to meet this week with Bruce tomorrow, and then we’re going to meet with Dan. But, again, I was very, very happy with it – the whole process. The guys bought in to it, the guys worked their tails off, and I could see the pride in them when we made the picks. That’s what I want. So as of right now, everything is status quo going forward.”

On what he saw on tape to convince him Scherff can handle NFL pass rushers at tackle:
“Like I said, he played tackle in college. He played in the Big Ten and started many, many years and had a lot of success. He’s a good enough foot athlete, not just from the athleticism and size. Everybody says, ‘Well, he’s only got 33 and ¾ arms.’ That’s fine. The average is 34. OK, so he’s a quarter-inch off. He’s going to succeed, because not just with his athleticism, size and toughness, but the instincts for the position. He knows how to play tackle, and that’s why he’s had success in college. You can’t teach instincts. He’ll be fine wherever we put him. He’s one of those guys that can succeed no matter what.”

On if having a mix of offensive linemen catered to zone blocking or power blocking is a workable option:
“It is. The great thing about it is we’re very lucky to have Bill Callahan here. He’s been in the league a long time, been around some very successful teams as a head coach and as a position coach. We tailored our draft picks to what fits his system and power is very, very important. With this division and playing late games and hopefully in the playoffs all the way through, you’re going to get bad weather games. We need to be able to win up front. We need to have big guys come off the ball and move people. And what we’ve addressed in this with [Arie] Kouandjio and with Brandon are big body guys that they have no problem doing the dirty work.”

On if tackle Morgan Moses could potentially move to guard:
“Certainly. Like I said, the great thing about this is you can never have enough great offensive linemen. You can never have enough good football players. Young guys, put them out there. Let them compete. The best man is going to win and the worst case scenario is Morgan doesn’t get a starting job; now you’ve got a really good backup. You’re going to need him. Guys get knicked, things happen. I’m excited about the young guys we have up front and the older guys. We got better up front. It was very important to me on the offense and defense. We were lucky in free agency to do it on defense and in this draft we did it on offense.”

On the selection at No. 5 with both Scherff and Leonard Williams available:
“The thing about Leonard – very good football player. I was hoping to be able to move back there and it didn’t happen. Everybody was talking about trading up to our spot, but it was all for [Dante] Fowler. Once Fowler went, then all the talks went off the board. But Leonard’s a good football player. If for some reason Brandon would have been gone, he would have definitely been probably 1B or 1C, right there you’re talking about him. We were lucky enough, like I said, in free agency to do some stuff on the defensive side, and from my standpoint, going into this thing, I knew we needed some help up front on the offensive side. It was too good of a bang for the buck not to get Brandon there.”

On what he likes about linebacker Preston Smith:
“First and foremost, SEC – dominant player. Size, length, he has the ability to play on certain downs stand-up in two-point stance and on certain pass rush in the three-point stance. He played down at Mississippi State the majority of the time. It was unique about him, when they go to the three-man front, he’d move in on the nose tackle and play over the nose – I mean, he’d move over the nose and play over the center – and had success rushing the passer from inside there. You’ll see as I go through each year more and more, you’re going to see I do a lot of big school guys and a lot of SEC guys. That’s important to me because they’ve been in the big games. They’ve been around 80,000 fans. They’ve been playing the Alabamas, they’ve been playing LSUs. It’s not too big for them to come out here. So he’s unique because he’s got 34-and-a-half-inch arms and he’s almost 6-5, he’s 270 pounds and he can rush the passer. It’s a great tandem.”

On the availability of Randy Gregory in the second round:
“We definitely had many, many discussions about him – many discussions – because he is a talented player. I don’t want to get into the background on him because a lot of it has been public, but that’s his stuff. It did not play into it from the standpoint that each time we picked, we had a player on the board that fit to being a Redskin. Like I said, character is very important to me, but the first and foremost is the football player on the field being able to produce. But as you get through it, especially my first draft, I want to build a core of guys from now going forward that are the whole package, that wants to be a Redskin, knows what a Redskin is about, and you mold them that way. Talent is very, very important, but also the whole package to me is important. That’s what’s going to get the guys to that second contract. That’s what’s going to get them out in the community. That’s what’s going to make us win games in January and February.”

On if the team can take chances on players once it feels good about its locker room:
“Maybe later on you discuss it, but the key thing is I’m not worried about today. I’m worried about what’s going forward with the roster. You know, I have to oversee getting down to 53 and all that stuff, but I’m not worried about just the one-year bang. I’m worried about the guy gets the second contract and is going to be able to build the core of the Redskins going forward. And each year we get better and better because of it that when guys walk in here in this locker room and this weight room and they see these young guys growing up and getting better, they follow in that and that’s what makes them better.”

On the trades the team made during the draft:
“Well, with Seattle, that’s my good buddy John Schneider. He had 11 picks. He had four compensatorys that he couldn’t trade. They have enough depth on their roster, he wanted to get my third because they had a late two – he had no one – a late two and then an early third. He wanted to get two guys for sure that he felt could make their team. Everybody thinks we won the trade by the points system and all that. No, no, no. He got what he wanted and I got what I wanted. Getting the three picks was huge to us. Like I said, I want to add football players. The more swings you take, the better chance you’re going to hit something. We talked and talked and talked, and I was trying to win the trade, he was trying to win the trade. Finally I said, ‘Screw it. Let’s do the right thing. OK, you give me three and I’ll give you the one. Let’s go.’ So it was done. And then Bruce Allen does a great job of talking to the other teams while the draft is going on. I’m so focused and locked in on the board, game planning strategies and scenarios, he was able to talk with a lot of teams and finally make that trade happen. Again, we had other opportunities to trade back more, and get some more picks. But when we got to 10, I was happy with that.”

On how it felt to be back in the draft room once again:
“It was awesome. It’s not about me. It’s about everybody and seeing the positive energy in that room. Seeing the head coach excited, seeing the owner excited, seeing the president excited, seeing the area scouts high fiving, it’s really cool. It’s a long process. The last three days, when it’s all said and done, but overall, the whole fall and all of the meetings we do and to come down and get it done and just feel the energy, it was really cool.”

On Scherff’s knee and his development as a pass blocker:
“Not worried about the knee at all. He had the scope and he was back the next day trying to do squats. That’s just who he is… I think he can work on everything. The really good thing about him coming out of Iowa with Kirk Ferentz, his background is offensive line. When he was in the league with New England, he did all that stuff. But he can get better at everything. The really cool thing about him here with Coach Callahan is they’re going to get better. The upside is tremendous. It’s not going to be like ‘pretty, flashy guy.’ It’s just every day he’s going to come out here and get better and he’s going to make us better.”

On Crowder’s route-running ability:
“Excellent. You know what, for an undersized guy he’s got a chip on his shoulder. He’s a really good punt returner. He is a receiver first, punt returner second. And he’s going to come in here, you put him in the slot, he’s going to be tough to cover. He’s a football player.”

On if he is looking for more talent now that the draft is over:
“Definitely. Anything I can possibly do to make this roster stronger. Right now we’ve agreed with 13 college free agent guys, and even them coming in I’m excited about the names we got. I can’t put the names out yet, they’ll come once we get them signed. But yeah, I’m always looking to make the roster stronger. This team has gotten better in my opinion, but we’re not even close to where we’re going to get to. Every day I’m trying to find a way to make this roster stronger.”

On wide receiver Evan Spencer:
“You know what’s really cool about that? Everybody is like, ‘Well, his brother works here and all that,’ and I told him prior to the draft, I said, ‘You know, I have him put on a spot not because of the relation but because that’s where I think he is as a football player.’ A matter of fact, he was even around higher than when we took him on our board. I’m very excited and I got a really nice text from [Cole] last night. And he’s like ‘Listen, to hear my brother announced as a Redskin was so strong.’ Very cool.”

On if there was a focus on drafting players that can contribute on special teams:
“Very much so. And again, we took players first for the primary position, but I wanted guys that could for sure come in here and be quality backups, if not starters, and be really good on special teams, be core special teams guys. And they were all marked with a certain symbol on the card, and that was very important to me – always will be.”

On La’el Collins:
“I don’t want to discuss that right now. It’s a very sad situation where it’s at, but we’ll let the courts take care of everything and the police take care of everything, but I’m pulling for him.”

On possible roster moves this week:
“We’ve gone through and we’ve released some players because we had to because of the number on the roster. That’ll be announced once all the agents are contacted and the kids are let know of. That’ll be announced probably later this evening, but I don’t want to do that in front of everybody right now. But it’s part of the process, you know, and the tough thing for me is some of these kids I don’t know. I haven’t seen them practice, I haven’t seen them play live. But talking with the coaches and talking with Bruce, we had to make some moves just because of the amount of new guys we’re bringing in. But it’s a tough day for those guys. I feel for them.”

On if running back Matt Jones could have been available in later rounds:
“It’s part of the game, it’s not an exact science. We had him put in the third round for a long time, and you can always say it’d be nice to get a guy in the fourth or the fifth and take someone else, but at that point he was the best player on our board and I had absolutely no problem taking him in the third. It was funny, I talked to Frank Gore last night, and my first draft in San Fran we took him in the third and I said ‘If he’s half the player you are we’ll be OK.’ So I’m excited about Matt. He came in yesterday, you guys met him. He’s a big-body guy, he’s a physical player and he’s tough as crud.”

On if Scherff’s presence in the draft impacted free agency decisions at tackle:
“It didn’t play into it. It would have been nice if we could have gotten a tackle in free agency, that’d have been great, and we tried. But no, it did not play into it. It did not play into it.”

On picking players who stayed in school and have strong leadership characteristics:
“It’s very important. I learned this when I was young – I was with Mike Holmgren and he says, ‘Go back and do me a study. Look at the quarterbacks that made a commitment to a university and graduated and their success in the league, and do the underclassmen who did not fulfill their commitment to the university.’ And at first I kind of thought, ‘Well, what’s it really matter?’ And he told me, he says, ‘I want guys – they tell you something, they finish it.’ And that’s very important. I’m not saying there hasn’t been underclassmen who didn’t get their degree who aren’t really food football players, and there always will be, but I think when it comes down to getting close to it, I’ll take the guy that committed to something and finished it.”

On his relationship with Director of Player Personnel Scott Campbell:
“The real cool thing, my 21 years in the league, I’ve known Scott the 21 years. John Schneider worked with him, hired him. So I’ve known Scott a long time – he’s a very good football guy. Similar to me, he grew up around it with his father, always being around it. So it was an easy transition with him, and the really cool thing is he’s very good at evaluating, but he’s also good at helping me just see the overall picture of stuff because I’ll get locked in to certain things, and he’s like, ‘Well, what about this? You think about this?’ So it was a really good relationship; I look forward to it going forward.”

On if he was comfortable heading into the draft on Thursday, and if he remained that way throughout:
“That’s how it played out. The thing that was great about it, with the coaches, from the head coach, Jay, to the coordinators, to the position coaches, you know, I had them all involved with each pick. And I make the final decision, but I want everybody to take ownership, and it was a really good conversation. Even the owner was sitting in there. And if you had told me I could, first of all, get the 10 picks, and I could get the 10 guys I got before the draft, I would’ve said, ‘If that’s possible it’s great – I don’t think it can happen. I don’t think we can get those 10.’ And we were able to do that. I’m a little biased, but I’m telling you, you wait and see – it’s a good group.”

On what he saw on tape to convince him Smith could transition to outside linebacker:
“You could see the athleticism on tape, no doubt about it. Just the flexibility in his lower body, his length, his arms. But at the pro day, they worked him as a linebacker. They dropped him, flipped his hips, made him catch the ball. He might have the best hands on our team when he comes in here. He’s a unique athlete. I mean, it’s impressive. Like I said, 6-5, 270, and he ran a 4.7 [-second 40-yard dash], and he has sack production, like I said, even on the center in college in the SEC, which is hard to do. So he’s got natural pass rush instincts, and you’ll see – he’s got the flexibility in his hips and lower [body] and the quickness to get it done.”

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