Bruce Allen, Mike Shanahan and their staff do just as much work evaluating a prospect’s character as they do athletic ability. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Judging a potential player’s character leading up to the draft is just as important as is evaluating his athletic ability and intelligence. And so, when investigating a draft candidate with a sketchy background, Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said his staff does extensive work to gain as clear a picture as possible.

A player could have great athleticism and talent, but Shanahan would rather pass on that player than adding a seriously troubled player to his roster.

“If it’s a big risk, we’re not going there. We’re not going there,” Shanahan said Wednesday in his pre-draft press conference. “We’ve worked too hard to build this football team to take big risks. Now, will you take a risk? It all depends on how much research you do and you decide if it’s worth the risk, and sometimes we’ll look at a guy and someone will think it is a big risk but we’ve done our homework so, if it was that big a risk, he wouldn’t be on our football team. So, you go ahead and do your homework, your due diligence. There’s always mistakes made, but that’s something that we put a lot of time in.”

So, what does that homework consist of?

“Well, going back and, like I said,” Shanahan said. “Go back to high school. Go back to the college. Go back to the equipment man, the trainer. Not just the coaches that usually give you the standard line, ‘Yeah, this guy’s great.’ Teachers in college. There’s a lot of different people that you can find out about the true character of a guy and usually it’s the people that aren’t your coach or aren’t the people that are talking to the scouts. We try to do that and if you do it enough and you’ve got scouts that work hard enough, you start eliminating mistakes and that’s what we’re hoping to do.”

Shanahan and General Manager Bruce Allen have assembled a strong leadership group to help keep the locker room in check. But that doesn’t mean Shanahan would take a chance on a player with the hope that his leaders will keep that troubled player in check.

“Well, again, you go back and [see] how much of a problem it is and if you think it’s a problem, then you stay away from it,” Shanahan said. “You don’t want to bring a problem into your team if you don’t have to. Now if you said a guy is a great player and you think that, you’ve got a feeling that this guy can overcome this problem, for whatever the problem may be, you might take a chance, and the stronger a locker room you have the more of a chance that guy has to turn, but some guys just don’t want to turn.”

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