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Need to Know: Looking at Redskins GM Scot McCloughan’s first-round picks with 49ers

Jan 30, 2015, 5:14 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Friday, January 30, 19 days before the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL assemble in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine.

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:

That’s a great question and I plan to fully examine the subject between now and the draft. But that will be a multi-part series and not something I can do justice to in the AM post. But to get an idea here, lets take a look at his first-round picks while he was the GM in San Francisco from 2005-2009.

So we don’t get too numbers heavy here in the morning, each player’s name is linked to his career stats page.

2005: QB Alex Smith (1 overall)—It’s easy to knock this pick since Smith struggled for a number of years and even when he started playing better he didn’t justify his draft position and the salary that came with it. But if you look at the players drafted immediately after Smith, a lot of other GM’s blew that draft, too. Impact players weren’t taken until pass rushers DeMarcus Ware and Shawne Merriman went back to back at 11th and 12th. But the best player in the first round was another QB, Aaron Rodgers, who lasted until No. 24. I think you have to score this as a moderate bust.

2006: DE Manny Lawson (22)—Converted to a 3-4 edge rusher and had 14.5 sacks in five years before the 49ers let him walk after his first contract was up without much of a fight. Center Nick Mangold went to the Jets seven picks later. They did get a lot of snaps out of Lawson so this is another moderate bust.

2006: TE Vernon Davis (6)—After his blowup with coach Mike Singletary he became one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the game. A solid extra base hit.

2007: T Joe Staley (28)—Other than 14 games missed due to injury between 2009 and 2010 he has been the starter at left tackle since he walked in the door, making the Pro Bowl each of the last four years. Another extra base hit, maybe a triple considering the value of the position and the draft slot where he was obtained.

2007: LB Patrick Willis (11)—An immediate impact player, Willis was first team All-Pro as a rookie and then for four straight years from 2009-2012. If he has a few more good years left in him he is a Hall of Fame candidate. McCloughan knocked it out of the park with this pick.

2008: DT Kentwan Balmer (29)—He didn’t start a game for the 49ers in two seasons before they dumped him via a trade with the Seahawks for a 6th-round pick. Yes, he’s the same guy who spent part of 2011 with the Redskins before going AWOL during training camp in 2012. Even though he was taken fairly late in the round McCloughan swung and missed on this pick.

2009 Michael Crabtree (10)—With only two seasons with as many as 800 yards receiving in six seasons in the league, it’s hard to say this was a great pick. Although Crabtree has been competent, he hasn’t been what you want from the 10th pick. Call it a single.

So out of seven picks we have one strikeout, three singles, a double, a triple, and a home run. I don’t know what average you want to assign to that but that’s certainly better than the Redskins did during that same time period and likely better than most.


—It’s been 33 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 226 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 19; NFL free agency starts 39; 2015 NFL Draft 90

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. skinsgame - Jan 30, 2015 at 6:39 AM

    I looked at his drafts back when Rich reported the team might be offering him a job. He’s had tepid success in the 1st round. Staley, Davis, and Willis are bona fide for sure.
    It will be interesting to see his roster in 4 years. 1st round picks are volatile and they’re usually what a GM’s legacy is built on. But it will be mostly the moves with little splash or fanfare that determine his success. It will be waiver wire pick ups, undrafted free agents, and mid round picks that fill out the roster. Having those players be solid, inexpensive players is what will ultimately determine his success. If he can do that and sprinkle in a couple 1st round home runs, THEN we’re cooking with grease.

  2. deepball1 - Jan 30, 2015 at 8:43 AM

    regardless of the hits and misses, the Redskins won/loss record will be determined by the success or failure of the QB. This is why Matt Cavanaugh will help that position, as well as having both quarterbacks in the same system for 2 years in a row.

    The Redskins can and will NEVER win until they establish some continuity and stop changing QB’s and coaches and offensive schemes every other year. CLUE: Peyton Manning has been in the same system for 15 years and Tom Brady has had the same system and coach for 13 years. actually that is a BIG clue.

  3. bangkokben - Jan 30, 2015 at 8:58 AM

    Agree with the sentiment.

    “The Redskins can and will NEVER win..” 2012 was an outlier yet it disproves the word NEVER

  4. polofourme - Jan 30, 2015 at 11:19 AM

    I wholly and completely reject his theory of taking the best player available regardless of need…that to me is a worthless philosophy and if he tries it here, he wont be GM for long. This team needs to have some kind of plan to rebuild the roster..not just take any player. We have needs across the board. Any good team builds championship team building the on the O and D lines first and foremost. It not very glamorous, not very glitzy but it has to be done.

    I have crave concerns about SM as our GM…he is an alcoholic and regardless if you have it under control at one point in time, YOU are always an alcoholic and this job, with this owner and team president could drive anyone to a bottle. He was IMO the wrong guy at the wrong time for WAS. But that’s what you get when you have a dysfunctional team as WAS where quality back office guys stay away from this franchise like the plague. You sow what you reap and this team is one of the worst run teams in the NFL and hiring an alcoholic as GM speaks directly to that fact.

    • bangkokben - Jan 30, 2015 at 11:40 AM

      I agree with your concerns about McCloughans demons.

      Having said that, you are flat wrong when you say that taking the BPA is 1) not a plan and 2) how to lose your job. It worked in Seattle. They’re back in the Super Bowl despite losing talent in the middle of the d-line.

      Especially when you have needs across the board, you cannot pigeon hole yourself into one side of the line of scrimmage. You cannot reach to take solid players in the first two rounds to lose out on impact players. That is how to lose your job. The 2011 draft was chocked full of talent, yet a number of teams including the Redskins and the Cowboys passed on JJ Watt – a position of need for both teams. Maybe Tyron Smith and Ryan Kerrigan plus Jarvis Jenkins were good choices but I think just about any team would trade what they took in round 1 for Watt.

    • Rich Tandler - Jan 30, 2015 at 11:52 AM

      Drafting the best available player is not a “theory”. It’s the way that championship teams are built.

      > >

      • polofourme - Feb 1, 2015 at 11:55 AM

        Hogwash….its what teams do that are already there not teams that are trying to get there…WAS has years of rebuilding this roster ahead…and taking the best player available is a waste of time for a team that needs specific players not whoever just falls to us. My grandmother could make that pick…theres not talent involved in making those kinds of picks. So taking your view, if a QB is the best player available or a WR is the best player available you make that pick? Fine but to me that’s a waste of time and this team will never get to the point where it needs to be in order to compete. DAL did it right..yes they had impact players on the team but year in and year out, all those talented players got DAL was 8-8..they were not going anywhere. When the did the dirty work and invested several years of number 1 and 2 picks on the OL, it changed everything. It made all those impact players great players and DAL became multi faceted O that won 12 games and got them into the POs and nearly into the championship game. Without a plan, you might as well be throwing mud against the wall…and we do not have the luxury of wasting draft picks or FA acquisitions without having a plan to back up those decisions.

        • Rich Tandler - Feb 1, 2015 at 2:35 PM

          Believe what you want to believe. But it’s NOT hogwash. It’s the way championship teams are built.

          > > >

        • polofourme - Feb 2, 2015 at 10:08 AM

          That is your view but just because you say it doesn’t make it true…I don’t know where you are getting this or on what basis you can make that statement AND not provide anything to back it up….and I don’t mean one team a decade ago….you are just plain wrong…..I asked you a very direct question, if a QB or a WR is the best player available you take the QB or the WR even though we already have three QBs on the roster and what 8 WRs you take either and ignore areas like the OL or DL or secondary. You can not really believe that..its simply without merit.

        • Rich Tandler - Feb 2, 2015 at 10:30 AM

          No, it’s not my view. It’s a fact. Drafted BAP is the way that championship teams are built no matter where you’re starting from. Drafting for need is the best way to ensure a garbage draft and a garbage team.

    • hcicron - Jan 30, 2015 at 12:05 PM

      You say successful teams build lines first and foremost. Let me remind you that yesterday you posted that’s what the cowboys did. You failed to notice all there impact players (Romo, Bryant and Murray) were already on the team. If you recognize that it will take a couple years to build a competitive team like I do then taking BPA is actually the smartest thing to do. Also as Rich has pointed out many times positions of need do still factor in the equation as a sort of tie breaker

      • hcicron - Jan 30, 2015 at 12:06 PM

        Their not there.

    • ajbus1 - Jan 30, 2015 at 1:28 PM

      Your criticism goes to far polo. Why the hell would the GM of any team lay out his plan? You’re smarter than that.

    • captblood3000 - Jan 30, 2015 at 5:59 PM

      One can draft the best players available, and still have a plan. Take, for example, the Redskins offensive line. Williams is part of the plan, you can extend his contract if the price is right. Compton (your swing tackle) is a free agent, you will need to resign him, or draft his replacement, or sign a free agent to replace him. Lauvao can’t be readily cut because of his contract, but you can draft his eventual replacement this year or next. You could draft Lichtensteiger’s eventual replacement in this year’s or next year’s draft. I would also look at LeRibeus at center, though the clock is ticking on him. Long should be ready to start next year, but the guard you draft (see Lauvao) will also be his backup. Moses will be ready to start at right tackle either (a) next year (if he doesn’t miss the entire offseason because of his injury), or (b) 2016, or (c) never. Assuming it’s 2016 (because it’s too soon to give up on him), you sign a veteran free agent on a one year deal to keep his place warm. At tight end, look for an upgrade in the next 2 or 3 drafts, someone who can catch and BLOCK. Only one of these positions (left tackle) would deserve a #5 pick, and you already have Williams there, and no tackle this year deserves the #5 pick. Which means that you can draft one tackle (whether or not you resign Compton), one guard, one center and one tight end this year. That’s all offensive line positions. I see no particular priority among these positions.

      You can go through the roster and come up with a shopping list where (face it!) every position is on the list. Now the shopping list can’t be satisfied in one year or two years but once you get enough talent on the roster to have a short list you can sign free agents to complete the puzzle.

      By this standard, the defensive line is the bigger mess than the offensive line. Apart from Baker and maybe Kearse, it’s hard to see any of their current defensive linemen on the roster in 3 years.

    • Joe Greene - Jan 31, 2015 at 6:50 AM

      He’s a proven NFL GM at 2 different spots and widely considered one of the best personnel evaluators in the world. He’s been part of 3 franchises that have put teams in the SB, with 2 of them winning it. I’ll take his philosophy over yours every day of the week.

    • skinsgame - Jan 31, 2015 at 9:14 AM

      Scott may not end up being successful but, until you spend your 401k money and purchase the team, complaining about things for which you have zero knowledge (like people allegedly avoiding the club due to the owner) just makes you sound like a whiner.

    • skins1970 - Jan 31, 2015 at 11:40 AM

      You can’t draft like that that is why the Cardinals and Lions were awful for all those years. They always reached and drafted for needs in stead of taking the BPA. If the BPA is a Olineman or Dline of course we should draft him but if he is not we should take the player is there or trade down pick up some more draft picks and draft a OT like TJ Clemmons between the picks of 10-15 range.

    • jonevans511 - Feb 1, 2015 at 10:14 AM

      Using that same EXACT logic relative to alcoholism, and by the way I sincerely hope you’re not a father or an uncle because you have a lot to learn about addiction, Cris Carter should never had been given a second chance after his drug abuse with the Eagles. Using the “this job is tough” BS, the Vikings should never have “reached” for Carter as he was surely going to sniff his life away….. until he didn’t. He came close to the edge, worked his tail off, and EARNED not just another shot at stardom but earned himself a mustard-colored jacket at Canton.

      I am all for objective criticism, but your comments about his demons in the past are unfair and ignorant. He knew he had a problem and (whether forced/nudged or not) took a step back to dry himself out. You don’t believe in redemption? Well, I hate to break it to you, but second chances are what make the NFL great and for every player/exec who struggles with addiction, not even close to all of them end up using/drinking their life away.

      Since you have no problem calling in to question people’s inner strength whom you don’t know personally, I’d rather have a hammered SM making our draft picks from the scummiest dive bar in DC than leave our franchise in a keyboard warrior’s/armchair GM’s hands.

      • ajbus1 - Feb 1, 2015 at 1:20 PM


      • polofourme - Feb 2, 2015 at 10:31 AM

        Really? I know about as much about addictive personalities as you…once an alcoholic you are always for the rest of your life an alcoholic, that’s a fact. The reason he was out of the league was due to his addiction to alcohol and by his own admission, he was originally a heavy beer drinker during his days as a scout and as most addictive personalities experience, once the kick he got from drinking beer subsided he graduated to vodka. He worked his way out of the league because of his drinking and it had other serious effects to his marriage and his private life. And he comes here, as our GM one of the worst teams in the NFL, with a truly dysfunctional ownership and front office…he is ONE drink away from returning to the bottle. And working for this team, he will most certainly need a drink just to deal with Snyder and Allen.

        I would also offer this, I don’t care what he did in the past, in the NFL, its not what YOU did in the past but what you do NOW and in the future. And you could say his record is littered with bad decisions…and of course some very good decisions…I would say, about middle of the road. And I didn’t see a lot of teams just begging to get a chance at him….he is a risk to say the least, and I would add, high risk based on his past misconduct. My point remains, it was a GREAT idea to finally structure the team like it should have been, with a GM but why does this team have to always take in damaged goods? Why is it we never get the cream of the crop to come here? You know the answer to that..its because the best of the best, avoid this franchise like the plague. And that means to even get anyone to come here, we are always having to take in someone else’s problem and offer that second or third or fourth chance? That’s why SM is here, not be because he was the best available option. And to me that’s not away to build a very broken franchise. Finally, I don’t accept the notion of second chances…he blew his first chance, period. Look there are only 32 teams in the league. Only 31 owners along with GB, 32 GMs, 32 HCs…that’s out of a total population of around 350M….so to say the least these jobs are rare, almost impossible to attain and when someone simply throws away one of these truly rate opportunities, to me, once is enough and done. Owners don’t have to advertise for these jobs, people are beating down the doors to get an interview. At least at most franchises…so when a guy throws it away, to me, he deserves to be on the street..he earned it.

  5. ET - Jan 30, 2015 at 2:15 PM

    Looking at the #1 picks is somewhat illuminating, but it seems like Scott M. has done some very good things in the mid-to-late rounds. I’m cautiously optimistic that he’ll help the Skins in this aspect of the draft. We’ve had way more misses than hits in the later rounds, with a few notable exceptions like Morris, Breeland and K. Robinson. Archives

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