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Need to Know: Redskins’ McCloughan won’t draft for need

Jan 12, 2015, 6:01 AM EDT

McCloughan intro

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, January 12, 57 days before free agency starts for the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL.

Question of the day

We’re changing up the format of Need to Know for the offseason. Every day I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

If Scot McCloughan “looks” for offensive line with the fifth pick in the draft (I assume that’s what you meant by “@ 4”) he is not doing what he was brought here to do. That is not how you properly conduct a draft.

“I’m never under the assumption that you draft for need,” McCloughan said on Friday. “You draft the best available football player on the board. You know people say, ‘Well, if you have this and this, why would you do that?’ Because, you know, in the long run, they are the ones who will help you win the most games.”

So, the only way that McCloughan will “look” for an offensive lineman with the Redskins’ first round pick—or with their second, third, and so on—is if he is the best player on the board.

But need does factor into the equation in two ways. The definition of the best available player is based on that player’s grade and need factors into the player’s grade. Also, if there are two or more players on the board whose grades are identical, or even very close, they generally will take the player at the position of need.

It should also be noted that the value of the position also factors into the grade. A right tackle or guard would have to be very, very good to receive a grade that put him in the top five. Right now it looks like there is not a lineman who is that good in this year’s draft.

The bottom line is that the fact that they drafted Morgan Moses and Spencer Long in the third round in 2014 will factor into the decision-making process to an extent. But if there is an offensive lineman on the board who has the best grade, determined in part by the team’s perception of the need at the position, they will take him.

One other note here–Note that McCloughan says that this strategy helps a team win games “in the long run”. The draft is not about the coming season. It’s about stocking your team for years to come.


—It’s been 15 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 244 days until they play another one

Days until: NFL free agency starts 57; 2015 NFL Draft 108

If you have any questions about what’s going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I’m always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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In case you missed it

  1. mrperry757 - Jan 12, 2015 at 6:37 AM

    So that means boys and girls we are picking a defensive player with the first pick

    • O - Jan 12, 2015 at 7:58 AM

      Now that I fully understand his logic, I’m perfectly fine with that. I’m pretty sure the Packers didn’t need to draft a WR with Cobb and Nelson already on the roster but you see how much of an impact he had.

      • Rich Tandler - Jan 12, 2015 at 9:35 AM


  2. thankslittlebrandonbanks - Jan 12, 2015 at 8:11 AM

    *FOR NTK*
    Is Ammerson a possible candidate to play free safety? His coverage off the line always seems much softer than Breeland’s. I understand you have to have a better option at corner in order to move him, but let’s assume that option is found either in FA or draft and free safety is still not addressed. He was known as a ball hawk coming out of college. Is this even a remote possibility? Thanks.

    • Rich Tandler - Jan 12, 2015 at 9:38 AM

      Interesting topic, will use it one morning this week.

    • bowlregard - Jan 12, 2015 at 10:47 AM

      I also wonder about moving Moses to guard.

    • goback2rfk - Jan 12, 2015 at 11:28 AM

      When are we going to get a solid safety and quit messing around trying to pull one out of thin air.

      • Rich Tandler - Jan 12, 2015 at 3:30 PM

        It’s a hard position to fill. Looking around the NFC East, for example, I see four teams in the division and four teams that generally hate their safeties. The combination of size and speed needed is rare. And any defensive back in college who can cover wants to be a cornerback, where the dollars a considerably higher when you get to the next level.

        • Cody mosteller - Jan 12, 2015 at 11:26 PM

          How about will Hill at free safety maxwell from seahawks playing corner draft shaq Thompson to play strong safety and bree land shares some time with hall seems like a serious backfield to me

      • rdub757 - Jan 12, 2015 at 7:43 PM

        Hopefully landon collins

    • hcicron - Jan 12, 2015 at 4:19 PM

      I remember the year he came out. Before the draft he was listed as a s/cb. At the time I was hoping we would draft him as a fs as he seemed to grade out higher there.

    • Joe Greene - Jan 12, 2015 at 5:05 PM

      To add to that, he’s 6’1″ and runs a 4.44 but seems to lack the quickness to consistently cover on the corner. FS seems like a perfect spot for him.

  3. ncskinsfan - Jan 12, 2015 at 8:22 AM

    I believe drafting the best player available will be the best idea for the Redskins because currently they have so many “positions of need.” I am guessing we will witness lots of players leave when the draft picks grade higher than the actual player.

  4. sidepull - Jan 12, 2015 at 9:22 AM

    Agreed. I would applaud a beast defensive player with the first pick. No problems there. Either way it goes we need help.

  5. mario - Jan 12, 2015 at 9:33 AM

    Draft oline or d-line. Trade back. Stock up on some extra picks. Way too many holes on this team.

    • brucealmty - Jan 12, 2015 at 10:28 AM

      Agree; drop back half-dozen spots if possible and draft the players you like.

  6. boysheadcoach - Jan 12, 2015 at 9:48 AM

    If those top 2 skip the “top QBs” trade downs for more picks is very possible
    .Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford big smart nasty stud OT.

    • goback2rfk - Jan 12, 2015 at 11:34 AM

      there is no chance the top 2 trade down. they both need help at qb especially TB.
      teams learned from the Redskins when we used a handful of picks to get Rob that it does not work out so good

      • Joe Greene - Jan 12, 2015 at 5:11 PM

        Tennessee really likes Mettenberger and will not be drafting a QB, especially with Mariotta being a system guy and Jailhouse being a Ryan Leaf waiting to happen.

        There’s a very good chance that Jailhouse slides to 5 and we get offers from Cleveland and the Jets to move up. I’d prefer to trade back with Cleveland, pick up the 12 and 19 picks, and go on from there. There’s also a really good chance that someone goes bonkers wanting Gregory, Ray, or Cooper and is willing to trade up to 5 as well.

      • Brandon - Jan 12, 2015 at 10:00 PM

        That’s not what he meant. He said “if those top 2 skip the top QB’s…”; basically he meant if Mariota or Winston is still available at 5, a trade down by the Skins is a real possibility.

  7. Adam Imirie - Jan 12, 2015 at 11:24 AM

    With the overwhelming need for help at multiple positions do you think it’ll be possible to trade our picks I order to accumulate multiple picks to help address those needs now?

  8. goback2rfk - Jan 12, 2015 at 11:36 AM

    The way it looks now is that this is going to be another few years before the roster has any stability. This year was like a complete waste of a year. I would say 8 and 8 next year would be a victory.

  9. wildbill1952 - Jan 12, 2015 at 12:16 PM

    Like an earlier commenter, I expect the team to draft a safety in the first round and spend later picks on someone besides the best OL. Despite the fact that Scherff/Ogbuehi are the best players available between them and Collins. They dominate, the other is just a good safety. Not great, but good. Not Sean Taylor, but Ryan Clark when he was young. One will produce more wins, the other makes the defense better.

    I hate to show the Cowboys as an example, but Skeletor finally got it right. He didn’t draft the BPA, he drafted what his team needed and it worked. He needed OL and defense. He chose to put 3 of his last 4 first round picks on the OL. That created a running game and gave Romo the time he needed. This year, he’ll go after defense. But he did it in this order (outside of QB) RB, WR and then OL, CB, OL, OL. His defense is middle of the road, but with his offense on the field for long periods of time, the defense is both well-rested and most importantly, not on the field with the other team’s offense. The following are Skeletor’s first round picks since 1999: DE, DB, DB, DE, DE, LB, LB, LB, CB and produced losers. Then, starting in 2008, RB, WR (Dez), OL, CB, OL, OL. Each of the three OL was not the BPA and most were considered a stretch when he picked them. But it made a difference in the won-loss record.

    • mario - Jan 12, 2015 at 12:53 PM

      Agreed. Invest in the lines! With high picks. Not 3rd and 5th rounders who can’t come in and play from the start.

    • Joe Greene - Jan 12, 2015 at 5:12 PM

      Scherff is a LG and nothing more and Ogbuehi is maybe the 4th or 5th best OT in the draft.

  10. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jan 12, 2015 at 12:41 PM

    Whether need or BPA, just being competent will be a big improvement.

  11. redskins4life1 - Jan 12, 2015 at 12:55 PM

    I’ve played football since middle school and life long skins fan. Are we to draft a WR with 5th pick if best available even though we have Jacson, Garcon and others? Or draft RG with little lower grade to replace Chester whom seemed to be pushed into backfield on every play? I’d think the latter.

    • mario - Jan 12, 2015 at 1:02 PM

      Thats right! I know he will do the smart thing. He can’t show his hand before the draft. Shows you are bad Bruce and vinny were.

    • Rich Tandler - Jan 12, 2015 at 4:05 PM

      There is zero chance they will draft a guard at fifth overall. There’s not one that good in the draft; there rarely is. Probably won’t draft a tackle either.

      Drafting for need is how Vinny “We Need Big Receivers” Cerrato did things. It’s not how you build a winner.

      > > >

      • wildbill1952 - Jan 12, 2015 at 4:23 PM

        Why don’t the Skins’ 3rd round players ever seem to break into the lineup? Leribeus, Long, Moses are the ones I’m thinking of. With Long particularly, as bad as the guard play was, and after he was drafted ahead of Gabe Jackson, who is starting for Oakland, what was it these guys lacked? I keep hearing the phrase that the coaching staff wasn’t “comfortable” with the rookies. What was it they were not comfortable with? Was it their knowledge of the playbook, their ability to block, their strength, conditioning, their technique, their talent? Were they really that bad? And if they were, is it something correctable? And will Moses be able to play come September with the Lisfranc injury or are we talking October or beyond?

        • Joe Greene - Jan 12, 2015 at 5:13 PM

          This has been addressed ad nauseum, but Long didn’t play much this year because he tore up his knee in college and wasn’t fully healthy until well into the season. Nobody projected him to play much this year, but we got him later in the draft that he would have gone if he had been healthy. He was active, and playing a bit, the last 5-6 games and has a real shot at being the starting RG next season.

        • rtcwon - Jan 13, 2015 at 8:13 PM

          He even played some LT that last game after Compton got hurt. Granted Paulson (yes, 82 no mistake) replaced him after Long left the game hurt.

      • hcicron - Jan 12, 2015 at 4:35 PM

        While I agree that 5th is high for a RT, provided that Leonard Williams is already gone, the remaining BPA’s are WR Cooper, OT Stanley and a few OLBs, not necessarily in that order. So who do we grab? I’d be fine with Stanley in that scenario

        • Joe Greene - Jan 14, 2015 at 4:05 AM

          None of them, trade down.

  12. joeyjust4u2 - Jan 12, 2015 at 4:42 PM

    We have got rid of d/c get rid of that person who thinks he is our h/c.We need a real man to be our Head Coach,for instance a person who has not been a coach and that is Brian Mitchell.He is a person that the players will respect.The person who is a acting as the head coach is a damn joke.Bmitch is more of a man than that person who is acting as the head coach.Bmitch will bring along his own coaches.Scot,lets do a real change,Orakpo we can do without,we can use that money to get two players on defense that will spend more time on the field helping the team than being off the field.Scot you may want to talk to Brian Mitchell and see what you feel about Mitchell.That person who is acting as the h/c is just an offensive coordinator,perhaps he can do his job and help Robert Griffin III be a better NFL quarterback,that is what we got him here to do,he is not a damn head coach.

  13. bangkokben - Jan 12, 2015 at 5:04 PM

    One of the biggest detriments of being twenty years from the glory days is the systematically dumbing down of our fan base. Using the 5th pick on a guard. WTFooey??!!! Despite the fact that every genuine football man says you pick best pick available and the fact that every fan knows that this team is multiple players away from competing and that there are only two playmakers (DeSean Jackson and Ryan Kerrigan) on this team, yet “we” want to do it the cowboy way and draft o-linemen in three consecutive drafts.

    Child Please! Until we paint a blue star on our helmets we still aren’t getting any obvious PI flags picked up.

    • Joe Greene - Jan 12, 2015 at 5:15 PM

      Garcon is a playmaker, he just had to take a back seat to Jackson who’s an even bigger playmaker.

      How many first round picks are on the GB and Sea starting OLs?

      You take the best player in the first round and then draft for need afterwards unless a serious talent has dropped into your lap. That’s how winning teams do it.

      • bangkokben - Jan 12, 2015 at 6:45 PM

        He may have been following in the back seat of the car behind. This year, not so much a play maker. Sure, there was Colt McCoy’s first pass of the season and then…

        Aren’t you the guy who is always complaining about value? Was Garcon a $9M+ play maker? No. Maybe he still can be but he wasn’t this year.

      • alextwrs - Jan 13, 2015 at 11:45 AM

        Well Okung and Buluga are two off the top of my head.

        • Joe Greene - Jan 14, 2015 at 4:10 AM

          Add Carpenter and that’s it.

          Green Bay’s OL goes 4th-4th-5th-4th-1st
          Seattle’s OL goes 1st-1st-2nd-7th-2nd

          Carpenter is the other 1st rounder on the Seattle OL and he’s easily their worst OL at this point. You can build an OL at any point in the draft as long as your evaluations and development are good.

          If not for a horrendous officiating game that vaunted Dallas OL would have been 1 and done in the playoffs just like the teams before they drafted all those guys.

  14. Lonnie - Jan 12, 2015 at 5:35 PM

    If we have a chance to take Cooper I say u do it. We would have the best receiving Corp in the NFL. Go get some proven vets at O Line and Safety/corner in the second rd.

    • captblood3000 - Jan 13, 2015 at 2:16 PM

      It’s a weak free agent class for OL. As for drafting for need (round 2), the new GM isn’t doing that. If Cooper is a lesser Julio Jones, how could he be BPA at #5?

      • Joe Greene - Jan 14, 2015 at 4:13 AM

        It’s not a bad OL FA group at all. There’s 3-4 OG that would be significant upgrades for us and another 2-3 who would be league average which is still an upgrade for us.

        There are 7 legit options at RT if we go the FA route there, with 5 of them being guys who have proven they can play in this league.

  15. Reginald Spencer - Jan 12, 2015 at 7:57 PM

    HTTR!!! At point now just wanna see improvements and an identity during process!REDSKIN4LIFE

  16. angel avila - Jan 12, 2015 at 7:59 PM

    New OL coach

  17. Reginald Spencer - Jan 13, 2015 at 9:17 AM

    Has nothing to do with draft,but am I the only Redskin fan wondering what Raheem Morris(Def.Backs Coach)achieved to be able to get an interview for Def.Coor??? If anyone have a good answer I’d love to hear it!

    • rtcwon - Jan 13, 2015 at 8:57 PM

      I was sour on him years past when the secondary’s tackling and even worse poor angels were never corrected. Then Green said their footwork was incorrect and I was done.

      But you should listen to what Cooley said on the radio today for your answer. The DC tells the position coach what to practice. It’s entirely plausible Haz had them spending time on the wrong things.

      btw for all those Swartz got Rambo making plays, I watched the game, he didn’t even play until third quarter after the starter got hurt & then same Rambo:
      poor run fills, bad angles, decelerates to the ball (ends up standing around the pile never in it) and as for the picks, the first one he jumped a stick route by the TE on third down (I still don’t understand how Rodgers threw this and whenever we do this its a double move for big play 3rd down TD so I’ll give some credit) second was deflected fairly high but should have landed harmlessly except he was right there covering no one (don’t know his assignment but tracking either the deep receiver crossing his hash or the back in the flat seem better than just standing at his drop)

  18. rtcwon - Jan 13, 2015 at 9:28 PM

    Great article, explanation and examples. Yet some still don’t get it. So I’ll try the opposite.

    Drafting for need assumes you are correct. But the draft is a crap shoot. These are 21 year kids.

    Bad teams do not become good by putting a bunch of rookies on the field. Building through the draft means year after year 3 or 4 picks are beating out your current starters within 3 or 4 years. BPA gives best odds.

    Need increases failure rate and even multiple picks on a position doesn’t ensure success, ask Vinny or Shanny, missing on a WR, DB or OL does not increase your chances of hitting on the next one.

    Lastly, trading down is not a strategy. If it happens, great but you can’t plan it.

    • Joe Greene - Jan 14, 2015 at 4:16 AM

      The draft is NOT a crap shoot. If it was, we wouldn’t see the same teams at the top of the league year after year. We wouldn’t see a team like Green Bay with an OL built using 4 guys who were drafted on day 3 of the draft.

      Losers who don’t understand scouting and development approach the draft like a crapshoot. Good franchises with quality front offices approach the draft as something that you should be able to get right a decent amount of the time.

      New England trades down nearly every year, but somehow you think that’s not a strategy? You really don’t understand what the word means if that’s the case. Archives

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