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Character counted for McCloughan in his first Redskins draft

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Character counted for McCloughan in his first Redskins draft

There was one thing that Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan wanted to make sure that everyone knew about the 10 players he selected during last week’s NFL draft.

Character counted.

He led off his draft wrap-up press conference with a statement about what he was looking for in the players the organization selected.

“We hit what we wanted to hit from the standpoint of not just good football players on the field but off the field as well,” he said. “That’s very important to me and I think the character off the field plays into a player going from good to great and from great to special. It was very important to me, especially my first draft to let the Redskins community and fans and everybody else out there know that well all take pride in this and we all take ownership in it and we got better because of that. It’s just the whole character and some really good football players.”

There were 10 players picked by Washington and there are no media reports of any of them ever having been arrested or failing a drug test at any point.

McCloughan was asked about one player in particular who carried a few red flags into the draft. Nebraska edge defender Randy Gregory was linked to the Redskins with their first pick in many mock drafts but it appears that a positive test for marijuana at the NFL Combine and some other issues pushed Gregory down the Redskins’ draft board.

They took a long look at the situation, according to McCloughan.

“We definitely had many, many discussions about him because he is a talented player,” he said. “I don’t want to get in on background on him . . . It did not play into it from the standpoint that each time we picked we had a player on the board that fit being a Redskin.”

The Redskins had two shots at Gregory, with their first- and second-round picks but they went with offensive lineman Brandon Scherff and edge defender Presto Smith, respectively. The Cowboys ended up taking Gregory late in the second round with the 60th overall pick.

Perhaps Gregory could have helped the team win some games this year. But McCloughan is looking at the big picture going forward.

“Like I said, character is very important to me,” he said. “First and foremost it’s the football player on the field, needs to produce. But as you get through it, this is my first draft. I want to build a core of guys from now going forward that are the whole package, who want to be a Redskin, knows what being a Redskin is about and mold them that way. Talent’s very, very important but also the whole package to me is important.”

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Da'Ron Payne's first reaction after being drafted No. 13 by the Redskins

Da'Ron Payne's first reaction after being drafted No. 13 by the Redskins

Many top draft choices chose to head to the NFL Draft, hear their name called and get the pomp and circumstance that comes with all that is the NFL Draft. 

The Washington Reskins' No. 13 pick Da'Ron Payne was not one of those prospects. 

Instead, Payne watched the draft surronded by close friends and family.

The reaction was memorable: 

Some draft picks choose not to come for fear of slidding down draft boards, or worse: not being picked in the first round at all. 

So he doesn't get to meet Roger Goodell. He doesn't get a Redskins' jersey on draft night.

But this video wouldn't exist if the defensive tackle from Alabama chose to go to Dallas, Texas on draft night. 

RELATED: 

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Redskins hope Da'Ron Payne will be able to solidify a porous run defense

Redskins hope Da'Ron Payne will be able to solidify a porous run defense

Doug Williams said that the Redskins would draft the best available player when they were on the clock. 

“It’s always going to be the best player available,” said the team’s senior vice president of player personnel during the team’s pre-draft press conference earlier this week. 

After their selection, it appears that they took a pick that was more for need. They picked defensive lineman Da’Ron Payne with safety Derwin James and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds still on the board, Jay Gruden said that there was some discussion. 

“There were quite a few guys were worthy of that pick, quite frankly,” said Gruden. “But for what we were looking for, with the fit, I think Da’Ron was perfect for us.”

The words “for what we were looking for” seem to indicate that they took Payne because they thought they needed someone at that position. 

While Payne is unlikely to be a pick that the Redskins will regret, they may look at what James and Edmunds, both players that most analysts had ranked considerably higher than Payne, accomplish during their careers and wonder what could have been. 

Then again, Payne is a pick that is about eight years overdue. The Redskins have been running the 3-4 defense since 2010 and they have never drafted a good nose tackle. Others they have tried, like Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton, have been short-term solutions. For the past two years, the position has been manned by veteran Ziggy Hood, who is more suited to playing the end position. 

The result of the nose tackle situation in particular and neglect of the defensive line in general has been a rushing defense that has consistently in the lower half of the league, bottoming out at No. 32 in rushing yards allowed in 2017. The need to stop the run took a step up in importance earlier in the draft when the Giants selected running back Saquan Barkley with the second pick in the draft, a factor that Gruden cited when talking to the media after the pick. They already had twice-yearly dates with the Cowboys with Ezekiel Elliott at running back and the Eagles, who have a stable of effective running backs. 

Although at 311 pounds Payne may be considered a bit on the light side for a traditional nose tackle, defensive line coach Jim Tomsula has said in the past that a lighter player can be effective in that role in the team’s defense. 

The main concern about Payne is if he can rush the passer. In his three seasons at Alabama, he compiled just three sacks. Gruden said that that number doesn’t tell the whole story. 

“He can, he can get back there,” said Gruden. “A lot of times, the sacks that don’t show up on the stat board, he enabled other guys to get them, because push from the pocket forces the quarterback outside. I think that [Redskins edge rushers] Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Ryan Anderson will be very happy to have Jonathan Allen and Da’Ron Payne in the middle pushing that pocket.”

Gruden also expressed confidence Tomsula will be able to coach Payne into being an effective NFL pass rusher. 

We will see what Tomsula and the rest of the coaches can do with Payne. If they can get some pressures and sacks out of him and the ability to stop the run translates to the NFL, the Redskins will have received good value for the 13thpick, even if James and Edmonds go on to be stars. 

More Redskins

·      Redskins fill a need with their top pick

·      VIDEO: Payne reacts to becoming a Redskin

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.