Redskins interested in Packers executive Alonzo Highsmith
The Redskins have requested permission to interview Green Bay Packers personnel executive Alonzo Highsmith for a position in their front office, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed.
Highsmith and new Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan worked together in Green Bay from 1994-99 as college scouts.
Highsmith in 2012 was promoted to the position of senior personnel executive.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the Packers have granted the Redskins’ request, or exactly what role Washington has in mind for Highsmith, 49. Fox Sports first reported Washington’s interest in Highsmith.
McCloughan took over Washington’s front office on Jan. 9. He has spent the past two weeks scouting draft prospects at the East-West Shrine Game and Senior Bowl, respectively.
At this introductory press conference, McCloughan said he planned to keep all of Washington’s scouting staffers at least through free agency and the draft. He then planned to review the situation.
Director of player personnel Scott Campbell and director of pro personnel Alex Santos and the rest of the Redskins’ scouts joined McCloughan in Mobile, Ala., last week at the Senior Bowl.
McCloughan said last week he and his staff would begin meeting this week to review the season’s worth of college scouting reports and then would begin compiling profiles and rankings for all of the NFL draft prospects.
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Raheem Morris expected to leave Redskins for Atlanta Falcons
Defensive backs coach Raheem Morris is expected to leave the Washington Redskins to accept a position with the Atlanta Falcons, multiple people with knowledge of the situation said.
Morris is scheduled to interview with the Falcons some time this week for a hybrid assistant-defensive coordinator position under new Coach Dan Quinn, two sources said. But another person familiar with the plans said that meeting is basically a formality.
Quinn, who will coach in the Super Bowl as defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks before fully assuming his new job, is expected to continue to call the defensive plays as head coach in Atlanta. But Morris will have a senior assistant position that will feature more responsibilities than defensive backs, according to the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak for the parties involved.
Morris and Quinn’s connection goes back to Hofstra University, where Morris played under Quinn in the late 1990s. Morris then went on to serve as Quinn’s defensive backs coach from 2000 to ’01 before leaving for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the following year.
Morris remained under contract with the Redskins this offseason despite the firing of Jim Haslett as defensive coordinator and the hiring of Joe Barry as his replacement. But Morris’s future with the team remained unclear because he also was drawing interest from other teams for larger roles.
Morris, who has coached in Washington the last three seasons, interviewed for the New York Giants’ defensive coordinator position earlier this month, but did not get that job. He was also one of seven candidates who interviewed to be Washington’s defensive coordinator. The Redskins selected Barry earlier this week, but still had interest in retaining Morris’s services.
Morris’s departure would leave inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti as the only holdover defensive assistant under contract. The team this week dismissed outside linebackers coach Brian Baker and defensive line coach Jacob Burney. Their replacements have yet to be selected.
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McCloughan doesn’t buy into theory of weak or strong draft classes
Every NFL draft class has a different flavor to it, and each year, analysts will describe that draft as particularly strong in one area, or weak in another. But Scot McCloughan disagrees with that notion.
A draft class might feature more high-profile names at one position versus another. But there’s no such thing as a weak draft class or position group, the Redskins’ general manager says.
“People will say, ‘Oh, it’s a weak draft here or a weak draft there.’ But in my opinion, they’re always good drafts,” McCloughan said between Senior Bowl practices Thursday when asked if this year’s crop of talent was stronger in any particular area.
“It’s what you make of it,” he continued. “I guarantee you every time we make a pick, one through seven rounds, there will be a player on that board that ends up being a good NFL football player from the standpoint of a starter, a quality backup, or a dangerous special teams player.”
The key, McCloughan says, is doing enough research — on game film, physical traits and personal strengths or flaws.
“You can identify that, and a lot of that comes from sitting around here and getting to know these guys,” McCloughan explained.
McCloughan has developed a reputation of being a strong talent evaluator — particularly in the area of draft prospects. That success comes from a strong eye for talent, the ability to understand what makes players tick, and an ability to project talent.
While compiling grades on every prospect from top to bottom, McCloughan also is looking for players that best fit into the Redskins’ system. Among the less-heralded players, he tries to find a few diamonds in the rough by looking for evidence that a project player has strong potential to grow and develop.
He used the defensive end/outside linebacker position for example. Teams may opt for slightly smaller, but quicker, pass-rushers to develop, and success in this area involves an ability to project, and trust one’s eyes.
“It’s also not just seeing them weigh in at 250, 260 pounds, but what’s his frame like,” McCloughan asks. “How big-boned are they? Are they going to be a 270-pound guy? Or are they going to be a 245-pound guy forever. That’s what’s so important about seeing this stuff in person.”
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Which Senior Bowl prospect best fits the Redskins?
As the NFL descends on Mobile, Ala., for the Senior Bowl this week, many reporters are observing practice and picking favorites, writing up the life stories of prospects that might end up on their beats. Mike Jones and Adam Kilgore are there providing observations and input.
Before arriving, Jones identified 10 players he’d be keeping an eye on. After two days of practice, here are a list of players that have flashed potential in roles the Redskins are lacking.
Nick Marshall, CB/QB, Auburn Bashaud Breeland has been a bright spot, but the Redskins will need cornerbacks as DeAngelo Hall returns from a ruptured Achilles’ tendon, David Amerson continues to search for a breakthrough and pending free agent E.J. Biggers is too often watching receivers run by. In Marshall, an athletic spread quarterback who has been working out in the secondary this week, the Redskins could acquire depth in two areas. As a corner, Marshall would have a steep learning curve but would have the benefit of thinking like a quarterback. He has the athleticism to play defense.
Per Mike Jones, “Marshall did well covering a comeback route run by Miami’s Phillip Dorsett and broke on the low throw at the same time as a diving Dorsett, who couldn’t make the catch. But Marshall later got juked and burned badly, surrendering a long touchdown to Kansas State’s Tyler Lockett.”
As a quarterback, Marshall could be taught to run a package of plays emphasizing the best aspects of Robert Griffin III’s read-option capabilities, ensuring the offense could maintain that element in the event of an all-too common RGIII injury.
Laken Tomlinson, G, Duke While tackle is the primary area of concern, the Redskins are in serious need of depth everywhere on the offensive line. The team kept Chris Chester, brought in Shawn Lauvao and drafted Spencer Long last year, but all three of them are solid at best, not spectacular. Tomlinson has impressed scouts in drills this week, particularly facing off against Washington defensive lineman Danny Shelton.
“He establishes such a good base and is so fundamentally sound that defensive linemen who don’t have a plan to beat him often find themselves on the ground or well past the pocket. Even opposing defensive linemen unanimously said after practice that Tomlinson was the toughest player they faced among the North squad’s offensive linemen,” NFL Media College Football 24/7 writer Bryan Fischer wrote.
Kurtis Drummond, S, Michigan State Saying the Redskins need a safety is an equal understatement to saying they needed a new general manager. Scot McCloughan will surely be paying attention to the back end of the defense in Mobile, and Jones likes Drummond:
“Drummond looks like the best free safety here. He has good range and reacts quickly. Also looks like a hard hitter. One play, he read the quarterback and met Delaware tight end Nick Boyle in the flat and drilled him right after Boyle caught the ball, stopping him for no gain.
Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska Roy Helu Jr.’s days in Washington could be numbered. The Mike Shanahan draftee is an unrestricted free agent this year. With that in mind, the Redskins could go back to the Cornhuskers for Helu’s replacement. Abdullah is an undersized dynamo who has amassed at least 22 receptions, 226 carries and 1,137 yards rushing in each of his last three seasons in college.
A defensive assistant The Redskins have started cleaning house by sending Jacob Burney (defensive line) and Brian Baker (outside linebackers) packing. As much as the Senior Bowl is a scouting event, it’s also an opportunity for enterprising coaches to hand out resumes to the cluster of coaches and scouts gathered in one place.Take Our Poll
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Scot McCloughan: Redskins ‘just want to have good football players’
MOBILE, Ala. — Scot McCloughan didn’t get to ease his way into his new position as general manager of the Washington Redskins.
Three days after his introductory press conference earlier this month, McCloughan traveled to St. Petersburg, Fla., for the East-West Shrine Game. He watched practices, took notes on players and conducted interviews with many of the prospects. He spent the two days after the game watching video of all 16 of the Redskins’ 2014 games.
This week, McCloughan turned his attention toward the Senior Bowl practices and another extensive docket of interviews.
The goal: Finding as many building blocks as possible as he prepares to overhaul a Redskins roster that just experienced its fourth season of double-digit losses in the past five years. The Redskins have also finished in last place in the NFC East in six of the past seven seasons.
“It’s been exciting,” McCloughan said Thursday following the morning practice session. “The good thing about it is my major background is college. And this fall I did a lot of tape work — not seeing guys in person or school call. So it’s nice to get to the East-West, nice to get here and see a lot of guys that I wrote during the fall and seeing them in person and see them move around, see how big they really are, see how strong they are, how big, how fast, how quick. It helps out quite a bit.”
The on-field performances during the practices help verify the assessments that McCloughan and this staff of scouts gave players during the college football season.
But it’s the player interviews that McCloughan points to as the most important benefit of the weeks spent at the East-West and Senior Bowl practices.
“You’ve got them for 10, 15, 20, 30 minutes. It’s great just to start the whole portfolio,” McCloughan said. “You see the talent on tape, but to see the person — what really drives him and the passion and competitiveness, what they’ve overcome in their life, what’s the family situation is like. So, yeah, it’s just building the whole package, and as we go through the draft process, you keep adding to it and keep adding to it, and the more you know a person individually, the better chance you have of being right when you draft him.”
McCloughan didn’t put a number on the amount of interviews he had held with players in the past two weeks.
“Tons. Tons,” is all he would say. More will follow.
McCloughan explained that knocking out as many interviews as possible during this week will enable the Redskins to begin compiling more detailed portfolios on each Senior Bowl participant. It also will allow him go to the NFL Scouting Combine next month and focus his efforts on interviewing the top underclassmen or any seniors that didn’t make the trip to Mobile.
After watching tape of the Redskins, McCloughan said he has a better feel for the team’s strengths, weaknesses and holes. But he said he still needs more film study and more time talking to Coach Jay Gruden and his assistants to gain a firmer grasp of the roster.
That will come over the course of the next few weeks. But McCloughan is approaching his job with the belief that the Redskins must start from scratch and add building blocks all across the board.
“We just want to have good football players at any position. … If the guy is a dang good football player that gives us a chance to win, not just for this year, but for the future, then that’s what I’m going for.”
McCloughan reiterated his goal of stockpiling talent through the draft rather than relying heavily on free agency, as has been Washington’s practice for many years.
Part of McCloughan’s job while evaluating players is to project how they fit the Redskins’ system. He must figure out which players have reached their ceiling, and which will continue to grow both physically and mentally. And he must determine who will have the psychological makeup he seeks.
“It’s not an exact science,” McCloughan said. “That’s why there’s no manual you can sit down and open up and read and say, ‘Okay, if you do it this way, you’re going to be a successful team.’ It’s not that way. A lot of it’s gut, a lot of it’s past experiences. … It’s easy to figure out who has talent and who doesn’t have talent, who can do certain things and not do certain things. But it’s what’s inside them. You know, what’s in their heart? What’s in their mind? What’s going to push themselves to be not just good, but great. ”
McCloughan will remain in Mobile one more day and then return to Ashburn, where he will spend the next month meeting with his scouts, going over their findings from the college season, watching prospects’ games and meeting with Gruden and his staff to find out what kinds of players their systems need.
“This is the start of the thick of it,” he said. “We’ve got a long process to go, but this gets us started in the right direction.”