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For Redskins GM Scot McCloughan, the draft is still his key building tool

Scot McCloughan is entering his second offseason as the Redskins’ GM. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

The second offseason for Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan will be much like his first — with a focus on functional over flashy.

McCloughan is spending this week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., looking for potential draft picks. The GM is big on building through the draft. Give him a fistful of rookies and he’ll find a winning hand like he did in 2015, when five selections were productive players for the NFC East champions.

“The more the merrier. Give me 15 [picks] if I can have them,” McCloughan told reporters at the Senior Bowl. “I think the draft is the lifeline for the organization going forward.”

McCloughan wants grinders, not big-name free agents. By winning the NFC East in his first year, McCloughan has even more leverage this offseason. He won’t be pressured to sign the marquee free agents who owner Dan Snyder lusted over in the past. There won’t be a Deion Sanders or Bruce Smith coming to Washington for a preretirement payout anymore. No more Albert Haynesworth debacles.

McCloughan’s biggest offseason goal is to re-sign quarterback Kirk Cousins to a long-term deal and avoid the pricey one-year franchise tag. McCloughan is also scouting quarterbacks in case Cousins isn’t signed. He’ll even hold on to Robert Griffin III up until the start of the new league year March 9, after which it would cost $16.1 million to keep the former franchise player. McCloughan always has a Plan B.

The Redskins haven’t reached consecutive playoffs since the 1991 and 1992 seasons. That’s why McCloughan is searching for foundation players in this rookie class. Some of his roster magic last year was clearly short-term. He wants young, tough guys and playmakers rather than older, stopgap players. It takes time to reshape a roster, but McCloughan’s not patient.

“We’re not going to sit back and say, ‘OK, we’ll rebuild for two years.’ Absolutely not,” he said. “Each day we’re trying to get better. Each week we’re trying to get better. … The main thing, the positives, were the fact that the team got better and better as the season went on. … I think the culture is going in the right direction.”

McCloughan looks at the Redskins’ 21st overall pick in the April 28-30 draft like a gambler culling chips. He doesn’t expect to trade up. Moving down is more probable. Last year he traded back and turned seven selections into 10.

“Like I said last year,” McCloughan said, “in every round we pick there’s going to be a good football player. That’s the way the draft works. That’s what you make of it.”

And McCloughan is trying to elevate the Redskins into more than a first-round postseason loser.

“Going to the playoffs and winning the division is great, don’t get me wrong,” he said, “but we have a long ways to go, long ways.”

Read more columns from Rick Snider:

GM Scot McCloughan is key to the Redskins not taking a step back next year

It’s not that far-fetched to think the Redskins have a shot at the Super Bowl

For Redskins, being underdogs in the playoffs might not be so bad

Reasons to believe the Redskins will win the NFC East