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Need to Know: Will the Redskins build the lines first?

Jan 20, 2015, 5:06 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, January 20, 100 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock for the first round of the NFL draft.

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.

Today’s question is from Twitter:

The Redskins certainly need improvement on both their offensive and defensive lines. While I don’t think the offensive line was as bad as popular fan perception would have you believe—many sacks were due to quarterbacks hanging on to the ball for too long—it still needs an upgrade for the Redskins to become a quality team. And part of the defensive line is aging (Stephen Bowen, Barry Cofield, Jason Hatcher) while the younger part is just OK at best (Chris Baker, Jarvis Jenkins). Again, not championship quality. In addition, Scot McCloughan puts a high value on size for the line and both sides of the ball will have to get bigger players, most notably the offensive line.

But just because it’s a big need that doesn’t mean that you necessarily address it first or put most of your resources into it this year (that’s how I’m interpreting “mainly focus”) if you are building through the draft. You don’t have any control over who is on the board when your pick comes up. If you’re “focusing” on the line, you’re going to reach and not take the best graded player available.

And that’s what Scot McCloughan is going to do. It should be noted that need does factor into the grades so there will be something of a bias towards players in positions of need. But if there are a lot of highly graded secondary players on the board when the Redskins draft, McCloughan could well go in that direction.

The object in rebuilding through the draft is not to build up one area and then move on to other areas. The idea is to get the best players you can, no matter where they play.

In the short term you might end up with some units that are too thin and some others that have great depth. But if you stick with the process as teams like McCloughan’s past employers, the Packers, Seahawks, and 49ers have you can end up with a pretty good team. If you reach in the draft in the hope of shoring up one particular area of the team you will end up not fixing anything at all.


—It’s been 23 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 236 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 30; NFL free agency starts 49; 2015 NFL Draft 100

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. Matthew Mulbrandon - Jan 20, 2015 at 7:17 AM

    Looks like many OT in this draft. So if the Redskins trade back from 5 they will probably get 1-2 OL early.

    • skinsgame - Jan 20, 2015 at 8:38 AM

      Unless you’re part of the scouting team and privy to Scott’s grades on OL, you have no idea who they’ll be drafting. That was the point of the article written above. He drafts BPA.

    • rcjur - Jan 22, 2015 at 8:54 AM

      No trade back, no oline in 1st round. Get a best defensive player. Team has 7 picks and can get another if they trade the QB Cousins. With 8 picks they can get 3 OLine players and at least 1 in FA. We need defense.

  2. vtsquirm - Jan 20, 2015 at 8:55 AM

    If everyone is picking the best players available, then why do McShay & Kiper always mention needs when going through their Mock Drafts? Maybe just the organizations who are run properly function this way (Steelers, Pats, Giants, Pack)?

    in general, I think most teams look at needs when picking. maybe they wouldn’t overlook a Jadaveon Clowney, but they are usually going to go for need.

    • bangkokben - Jan 20, 2015 at 10:34 AM

      How long have you been following football? How often are Kiper and McShay correct? Kiper and McShay get paid to generate news not to get the picks right or make the best long term solution for a team.

      Lastly when it comes to best player available it just like picking the best looking of ten supermodels or the best of ten apples. There are some obvious choices and then there are slight differences that may appeal more or less the person making the choice. So everyone doesn’t have the same board.

    • Rich Tandler - Jan 20, 2015 at 12:13 PM

      You’re welcome to believe Kiper and McShay, I’ll believe the words as they came out of McCloughan’s mouth AND what he (and most running drafts for successful teams) have actually done.

      > >

    • Joe Greene - Jan 21, 2015 at 4:22 AM

      Kiper and McShay are, even by the pathetically low ESPN standards, two of the most unqualified and clueless buffoons on the planet. They have literally no credibility except amongst those who don’t know anything about the draft.

      Let’s all remember the verbal beatdown that Bill Polian, the guy who built the Bills and Colts great rosters, gave to Kiper when the clueless twit had the nerve to question one of the best GMs in the league.

      • abanig - Jan 24, 2015 at 9:51 PM

        Kiper was right when he did that. He ripped Pollian drafting Trev Alberts, OLB from Nebraska. how’d that turn out off the Colts?

  3. hitmeimopen - Jan 20, 2015 at 9:25 AM

    Need vs BPA is easy- just split your brain and cross your fingers.

  4. red - Jan 20, 2015 at 9:33 AM

    After watching the nfc title game i really want gruden gone. Seattle showed why u don’t give up on the run. IMO u keepin hittin the other guy in the mouth and then they start thinkn we gotta stop the run then u take your shot. Russell Wilson can run that helps him alot. That last throw was a throw every nfl qb can make. I am willing to bet my life rg3 could make that throw along with Kirk. Alfred Morris is going to the pro bowl out of pure respect because he barely got 1 g on the ground but EVERYONE knows it was the coaching/playcalling! Its gotta change this year DRAFT who u need to get it done on the O-LINE. I believe in our d. lets get a new guy in (Please fangio!), bring back our guys let them audition. But please someone tell gruden dont look at the score to determine whether u run and a couple of failed runs don’t mean u bail either!

    • bowlregard - Jan 20, 2015 at 10:47 AM

      Seattle started moving the ball when GB went to a prevent defense.

    • rtcwon - Jan 20, 2015 at 3:10 PM

      I don’t believe Gruden abandoned the run so no, not “EVERYONE knows it was play calling.”

      Actually, the facts are we ran about as much as everyone else so I wonder how you believe he didn’t call enough runs?

      bty – Griffin made a better throw to Moss in that come back against the Giants before Williams gave it right back to Cruz.

      • red - Jan 20, 2015 at 9:00 PM

        They were not in prevent. They were watching for the pass but they were not playing prevent. A lot of coaches fall into traps set by the idiots that coached before them. Dont run if you are down is stupid. One dimensional teams always fail. Green bay got some yards on the ground but not with under six minutes to go! Same thing coaching trap! They had a nice flow in third took they foot off gas now they are watching superbowl. Belichek never gets credit but he knows when to run. He didnt get there with just brady corey dillon ran that rock!

  5. gurnblanstonreturns - Jan 20, 2015 at 10:34 AM

    It will take at least three offseasons to build a roster that is ready to be consistently competitive. As Rich notes, McCloughan’s former employers understood and embraced this reality, and those three teams have combined to make 9 NFC Championship Game appearances over the last 10 years. That means this approach has produced 9 of the last 20 teams to get that far, with an even more impressive 7 out of the last 10 teams over the past five years. McCloughan knows how it is done. The Skins need to forget about the won/loss record for the next couple of years. Sure, the team needs to learn how to win, how to compete. But, every personnel decision should be based on long term competitiveness – not an extra win or two short term.

    The big question is: Can Dan Snyder take it? Actually a closely related question is: Can Skins fans take it? Once again there are calls for quick fixes. We seem to be addicted to “winning off the field” in the offseason. So many – including me – have complained loudly about Dan Snyder. And Snyder has richly deserved it. But, do Skins fans simply have the owner we deserve?

    • bangkokben - Jan 20, 2015 at 10:39 AM

      Skins’ fans have EVERYTHING they deserve. They may not be as violent as Raider or Eagle fans or as obnoxious as Seahawk and Cowboy fans but we are just big @ssh-les as any fan.

      • jonevans511 - Jan 20, 2015 at 1:46 PM

        Whatever dude, speak for yourself. I’m loyal, I complain like EVERY other fan of EVERY other team in EVERY other sport, and I provide what I believe to be constructive criticism when I feel intelligent enough about the subject to speak on it. I deserve a terrible owner, a carousel of head coaches, a QB situation that even the Jets don’t envy, and an outlook that looks less than desirable (to say the least)?

        I know for a fact, especially based on the commenters on this site, that I’m not the only non-obnoxious Skins fan. We often get drowned out by the d-bags, true, but this is a ridiculous comment.

  6. deepball1 - Jan 20, 2015 at 10:53 AM

    being an expert at everything like the rest of you, I can now say for certain that the Redskins will draft whoever they draft with that 5th pick or they will trade down. I have inside information and guarantee it.

  7. polofourme - Jan 20, 2015 at 11:08 AM

    IMO this will be the first test I will be looking from SM to see what he does. Yes, indeed focus on the OL, period this time around and in the following draft also. I do not want to see WAS draft the best possible player at our slot. I want to see a well thought out plan and have it executed. We have a number 5 pick this year. I would like to see WAS drop back and pick up an additional 1st or 2nd round pick…and then go jumbo along the OL with those three picks. I admire what DAL did with their OL…they did it right and that OL will be set for years. WAS should follow suit and SM must address the OL this draft and into the following year. I know the DL needs help also but 1st IMO we need to fix the OL and try and get by with the DL we have for a year or two more. I think a lot of what is wrong with the DL is that we have players playing out of position and we could fix that and get more mileage out of the players we have by converting to a 4-3….and at least in the short run a move like that could pay dividends in the while we focus on the OL and get that fixed.

    • bangkokben - Jan 20, 2015 at 12:06 PM

      YO is just wrong. Thanks for letting us know that it’s your opinion as opposed to: in the opinion of unnamed sources (ITOOUS). There’s this thing about the English language that when you put the personal pronoun I followed by a verb (know, believe, want, etc.) it is implied that it is your opinion especially when it comes to posting on a blog. So it is this poster’s opinion that stating it’s your opinion – even in as few letters as possible – is a superfluous exercise of redundancy.

      As to your opinion, BPA is how not to draft the Laron Landrys of the world. LL was the 2nd BPA available but with Clinton Portis who needs Adrian Peterson? Picking for need is why the Raiders took Jamarcus Russell despite the overwhelming consensus that Calvin Johnson was the best player in the draft. Matt Millen drafted Johnson anyway knowing that it would get him fired because he wasted the previous two drafts on WRs.

      You want to trade down? That sounds good but there has to be a partner and value. Did we get enough value for trading out of our 2nd round pick last year? I didn’t think so at the time and now I’m less convinced.

      • polofourme - Jan 20, 2015 at 2:45 PM

        Thanks for the English tutorial chop suey….I will make my post as I will with or without your consent. Of course trading down requires a partner, that is implied or maybe you missed that. Your post is also a bit redundant but I guess you were so busy typing your opinion you missed that also, a bit of the pot calling the kettle black….so in three paragraphs all you really had to say was, we need a partner to trade down with…brilliant insight.

    • rtcwon - Jan 20, 2015 at 3:34 PM

      In case anyone was still wondering if drafting for need could possible be better than BPA, polo spouting need is your nail in the coffin.

      He admires Dallas? They reached and got lucky. Granted they now have a many playoff wins since their last super bowl as us but that doesn’t impress me nor make me want to emulate their ignorant draft strategy.

      Also switching to 4-3 means they’ll need to resign Rak for the Sam, find a better Will than Riley and four DEs plus Kerigan and Murphy have no fit in a 4-3. Much better to put Baker back at end and find a NT or two depending on Cofield’s contract.
      My only guess why so many fans think there is 4-3 personnel is they look at size/weight not actual playing ability.

      • Joe Greene - Jan 20, 2015 at 7:08 PM

        Kerrigan and Murphy are natural DEs. Robinson was listed as a potential 4-3 OLB in the draft. Compton or Riley may be better off in the middle of a 4-3, we don’t know that yet. We have two studs at 4-3 DT that we are wasting right now. This team is better built for the 4-3 right now than it is for anything else.

        • rtcwon - Jan 20, 2015 at 10:01 PM

          The day either one lines up at DE ensures 200 rush yards against.
          I don’t care what any draft guy says about any player ever but NFL game tape says Robinson is a stud Mike, likely in any system.
          I like Compton and he probably could be a 4-3 Mike but not better than Robinson. Riley runs around blocks way too much to ever play Mike. He could play Will but usually you want a playmaker there.
          Hatcher and Cofield are just as good in their 3-4 DE & NT roles when healthy.

  8. wildbill1952 - Jan 20, 2015 at 11:30 AM

    If everyone picked BPA then the number one rated player would be the first picked, the second rated player number 2, etc. etc. The Skins are not going to draft Mariota or Jamieson, even if they are available at Pick number 5. The Skins are not going to consider QB or any position they consider a strength: i.e. QB, ILB, LOT. So even though everyone says they’re drafting BPA, need always factors in. The problem comes in when you compare different positions. For example, how do you compare the best guard available in the draft, to the best WR still available when it’s your turn? Obviously the WR is more athletic, is faster and scores a lot more points than a guard. He definitely sells more jerseys (which should not factor in – ever, but has previously on this team). So BPA is always a matter of opinion. Compare Scouts, Inc. to Walters Football for instance. There may be agreement on the first guy at each position, but between positions the rating seldom agrees. Who is rated a 92 vs. the guys rated at 88? Just someone’s opinions, and those change based on how they did at the combine, which means the evaluators are looking at stats more than film.

    One of the problems previously, is that the Redskins ratings seemed a little bit askew. For example, the non-starting OL the Skins drafted were drafted ahead of OL that are starting for other teams. The Skins ratings demonstrated a lack of knowledge of OL and personnel in general and the standard response to the person we drafted was “who is that and why did we draft them”. How well the Skins evaluate talent now with a new GM is something that we are still waiting to see.

    • bangkokben - Jan 20, 2015 at 12:11 PM

      Why would my view on BPA be the same as yours? Especially if I want to run a 34 defense and a power running o-line and you want to run a 43 D with zone blocking scheme? I want to run a dink and dunk west coast offense and you want to run balls deep and we still have the same draft board? No.

    • Rich Tandler - Jan 20, 2015 at 7:26 PM

      Pro tip: Just because Kiper and company might have have Mariota and Winston and 1-2 or 2-1 doesn’t mean that the 32 draft boards around the NFL have it that way. Not all draft analysts rate them the same and no two teams rate them the same.

      > > >

  9. bangkokben - Jan 20, 2015 at 12:29 PM

    So let the weeping and gnashing of teeth begin as Joe Barry is DC’s next DC.

  10. RC Palma - Jan 20, 2015 at 7:31 PM

    The notion of the quarterback holding on the ball too long can also be that the receivers aren’t getting open. If Romo can hold on the ball for more than 7 seconds to find the open receivers and the offensive line does their jobs and making sure that they can block wouldn’t it be great for RGIII to have that same luxury? I can see it both ways of getting positive results. We need HOGS that can protect and maul down the defense. On the defense we need a combination of studs and speed to pressure the quarterback and shut down the running game.

    • Joe Greene - Jan 21, 2015 at 4:25 AM

      We have video evidence of multiple plays where Bob held the ball and did not get a completion despite having as many as 5 open receivers and having a clean pocket. The OL needs to be upgraded, especially the interior, but the biggest problem they have is a QB who is forced on them by the owner that can’t perform the most basic aspects of the position.

      • redskinsinrichmondva - Jan 21, 2015 at 4:43 PM

        It’s amazing how you continue to use video from a highly-publicized and highly-scrutinized game (Robert’s Bucs game, his worst game of the season) in order to make broad generalizations. You can do this for every other QB in the league; they will have plenty of plays in which they have open receivers and they miss them on the field. It happens.

        Maybe I should get the All-22 film of Kirk Cousins’s game against the Giants, and cherry-pick a play in which he throws one of his four INTs.

        • abanig - Jan 24, 2015 at 10:02 PM

          We have a young QB in Robert Griffin III who DOES hold onto the ball to long and is learning to become a pocket passer. He takes his eyes off downfield when he moves in the pocket, is too quick to take off and run and doesn’t throw the ball away if nothing is there.

          We have another young QB in Kirk Cousins who pre-reads a defense and throws too soon. He also stares down receivers and doesn’t move in the pocket to extend plays, even though he’s very athletic and forces passes when things aren’t open instead of checking it down or running for 5 to 10 yards.

          Both these qbs have potential to be a good or even great starting QB for the Redskins, but they need more development and the Redskins have to hire a QB coach because Gruden has too much on his plate to coach them individually. Archives

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