Washington hired Scot McCloughan to be the new front office shot caller this season. He had stints with the great San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks squads that scared their opposition with extreme depth and toughness. After McCloughan’s first draft in Washington, it is easy to see that old habits die hard. And everyone in D.C. is hoping that these habits will lead to some production like that of the 49ers and Seahawks.
The reason Washington hired a new GM in the first place was because Bruce Allen decided to step away from his position as general manager to be the team president instead. He didn’t have the best track record in the draft, and wasn’t spectacular in free agency either. The new coaching staff also needed a new GM to try and change the recent culture of losing in Washington. In this offseason alone, McCloughan has signed 4 impact free agents, including Terance Knighton, Chris Culliver, and Stephen Paea, and traded for former Pro Bowl safety Dashon Goldson. These moves bolstered the aging defensive line and atrocious secondary. This helped, but the draft would and still will determine the Redskins’ future.
With the 5th overall pick, Washington selected Brandon Scherff, which seems like a great move. The Offensive line in DC has been offensive for fans to watch, with the exception of top flight left tackle Trent Williams, and Scherff will hopefully change that. The Redskins saw and felt the impact of rookie guard Zach Martin on The Cowboys, and tried to recreate that successful move. Scherff is big and strong, and he should make Washington’s line stronger blockers for halfback Alfred Morris and better protectors of RGIII from day one. As McCloughan’s first big move of his career, it seems to be a pretty good one.
And for the rest of his draft, he consistently drafted for size and strength, and took some very physical players. He might’ve reached for some, but only time will tell how well the later round picks will pan out. the picking of Mississippi State linebacker Preston Smith seems to be a great decision. With a huge hole left by Brian Orakpo’s departure, a big time pass rusher was needed, and it was needed earlier, rather than later in the draft. Some fans were worried when a pass rusher was passed on at pick 5, but Preston Smith can attack the QB with his size can put him on the line as well to help in many aspects of the front 7. His edge game might not be what Orakpo’s is, but he has versatility like no one on Washington right now and help for Perry Riley and Ryan Kerrigan is much needed.
Besides Smith, Other interesting picks are Matt Jones in the 3rd round, Jamison Crowder in the 4th, and Austin Reiter in the 7th. Jones fits the mold of what McCloughan is trying to do to a tee. He is a big and physical running back, but his problem is injuries, and the fact that he wasn’t a consistent factor at Florida. He would look like an all SEC back one game and a bench warmer the next. Hopefully he has more of the first in Washington.
All the players the Redskins picked in this draft were bigger and stronger players, except for Jamison Crowder. He was a great receiver at Duke, but he doesn’t really fit this new style team. However, this doesn’t mean he can’t be a productive 4th or 5th pass catcher in D.C.. A great pick for McCloughan was his last one, in center Austin Reiter from USF. He was a good, consistent player, who can compete for the starting spot against the very average Kory Lichtensteiger.
This was a great first draft, but only time will tell if the new system in Washington will produce the same results as it did on the west coast. Don’t expect a new Legion of Boom anytime soon, but consistent upward improvement needs to be seen for anyone in Washington to consider their job “safe”.