While NFL draft analysts may quibble over the Washington Redskins’ decision to expend a No. 5 pick on a player projected as a right tackle or guard, general manager Scot McCloughan offered a comprehensive, enthusiastic rationale for why he valued Iowa’s Brandon Scherff so highly.
In McCloughan’s view, the Redskins got a lineman in the 6-foot-5, 319-pound Scherff who boasts size, competitiveness, toughness and character — a player who he believes will make teammates around him better.
“I wanted my first pick to be, here, no matter what — to be someone who’s not just an impressive player, but an impressive person and somebody you can build around,” McCloughan said, fielding questions about the team’s 10 draft picks Monday at Redskins Park. “Not only does he come in as a good football player, but guys around him will be better because of the way he approaches the game.”
Pointing to Scherff’s preparation under Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz, McCloughan said he was confident the first-round pick could handle the speed of NFL pass rushers, if he lines up at right tackle, as expected. But if later in his career he moves to guard, McCloughan said he believed the acquisition would represent a pick well spent.
“When we drafted him, we drafted him as a tackle. It’s what he played in college,” McCloughan said of Scherff, who won college football’s Outland Trophy as the nation’s top lineman. “If it ends up all the sudden he plays four or five years, six years, seven years of tackle and moves into guard, it doesn’t matter to me. What matters to me is getting the best five up front out there to win games.”
McCloughan said that he’d tailored his picks, in large part, to fit offensive line coach Bill Callahan’s system, a power run game that demands beefy, tough-nosed linemen, hard-charging backs and receivers willing to throw blocks.
“We need to be able to win up front,” McCloughan said. “We need to have big guys come off the ball and move people. We’re addressing this with [Alabama guard Arie] Kouandjio, Brandon [Scherff] — our big body guys who have no problem doing the dirty work.”
McCloughan proclaimed it an excellent draft for Washington in terms of quality, quantity and an overall collegial process. He traded back in the third round with his former employer, Seattle, to get three additional picks.
McCloughan said that character was a trait he looked for in all players he evaluated, believe it a building block of constructing any NFL roster for the long haul.
That apparently is among the reason the Redskins passed on the chance to Nebraska’s Randy Gregory, who dropped to the late second round (60th overall).
“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 the Redskins (are) about,’ McCloughan said. “You mold him that way. Talent’s very, very important, but also the whole package to me is important. That’s what’s going to get the guys to their 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.”
McCloughan had this to say on other topics:
● The team has agreed to terms with 13 undrafted free agents, but won’t release names until the contracts are signed, possibly Wednesday.
● McCloughan will meet with team president Bruce Allen and owner Daniel Snyder Tuesday to talk about any potential changes to the scouting staff. Hired in January. McCloughan was given the latitude to remake the department as he saw fit following the draft. On Monday he praised the work and enthusiasm of the staff he inherited, adding that for now, it’s status quo.
● While many assume McCloughan drafted Duke’s Jamison Crowder (fourth round) with return duties in mind, McCloughan said he views him as a “receiver first” and expects him to compete for a role in the slot. “He’ll be tough to cover,” the general manager said.
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