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Need to Know: What Redskins' GM McCloughan is looking for in the players he drafts

Need to Know: What Redskins' GM McCloughan is looking for in the players he drafts

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, April 13, 15 days before the NFL Draft.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 94 days ago. It will be about 151 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 5; 2016 NFL draft 15; Redskins training camp starts 106

Hot topic

In an interview with Bleacher Reports, Scot McCloughan described the player he’s like to take with the 21st overall pick when the draft gets underway two weeks from tomorrow.

“Toughness, smarts, competitiveness, team.”

In theory, this should make it easy to figure out who McCloughan has his sights set on. That combination of characteristics is not necessarily shared by a whole lot of players who have the talent to be considered in the first round.

It’s probably easy to eliminate some players. There are plenty of players, particularly defensive linemen, who get knocked in scouting reports for taking plays off, which would bring into question their toughness, competitiveness, and dedication to the team. One player linked to the Redskins in some mock drafts, Ole Miss DL Robert Nkemdiche, admitted to the media that he didn’t always give every play his best effort. He could well be off the Redskins’ board.

But beyond the obvious it’s pretty hard to know just who has the traits that McCloughan is looking for. Although all other things being equal he would prefer to draft a bigger player, his desire to have players with strong character will trump size. In the interview he talked about drafting 5-8 WR Jamison Crowder last year.

“You talk to him and you realize, it’s not going to be too big for him,” he said. “He’s going to come in from Day 1 and be a pro. He’s high character, competitive, tough – the tape showed that – and he has the passion to be a good player.”

So the key characteristics that McCloughan lists are not just for players in the first round. They apply throughout the draft.

The thing is, anyone can pull up some tape on the web and “scout” the player’s performances. The Mel Kipers and Mike Mayocks of the world can get more film, coaches' film, and talk to executives and scouts to get some more insight. Jon Gruden and a few others get one-on-one talks with the draft prospects.

But only McCloughan can get the job interviews with the players, asking the questions that he wants answered. Only he knows what he is looking for in the answers. He also knows what answers he is looking for when he and the Redskins' scouts get when they talk to a player's college coaches.

The rest of us can conduct mock drafts all day and try to figure out where he will go. But the recipe is a secret and good luck to all of us who might try to figure it out.

Stat of the day

When Redskins Hall of Fame WR Art Monk retired following the 1995 season he was the NFL record holder for both career receptions (940) and receptions in a single seasons (106 in 1984).

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The Cardinals could be the cure to the Redskins' pass rushing issues

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USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinals could be the cure to the Redskins' pass rushing issues

The Redskins have not had a very good year when it comes to sacking the opposing quarterback. They have 31 sacks for the season, 17th in the NFL.

They had a then-NFL best 32-game streak with at least one sack came to an end in Week 10 against the Vikings.

Ryan Kerrigan is doing well with 9.0 sacks to his credit. Preston Smith has five but only a half since Week 6. Matt Ioannidis and Jonathan Allen were forming a solid interior pass rush tandem early in the year but Allen went on injured reserve with a Lisfranc injury and Ioannidis suffered a broken hand that limited his playing time and effectiveness.

MORE REDSKINS: IS GALETTE ON HIS WAY OUT?

But the cure to the Redskins’ pass-rushing ills just may be coming to town on Sunday in the form of the Arizona Cardinals and quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

The Cardinals have given up 44 sacks on the season; that’s 31st in the NFL.

Things have gotten worse in the last couple of weeks, with Gabbert going down a combined 15 times against the Rams and Titans.

If you think that the Cardinals may have hit rock bottom, consider that two starters, left tackle Jared Veldheer and right guard Earl Watford, won’t be playing due to injuries.

Will Holden, a rookie fifth-round pick, will start at left tackle and Evan Boehm, who lost his job to Watford earlier this season, will be the right guard.

Of course, the Redskins have to go out and make it happen. The entire Cowboys offense was slumping until they met the Redskins a couple of weeks ago. They can’t be a haven for a struggling unit once again.

In any case, it is an opportunity that is in front of the Redskins. It’s up to them to take advantage of it.

RELATED: REED LIKELY TO STAY IN 2018

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

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Need to Know: State of the Redskins, Week 15—Looking for motivation

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Need to Know: State of the Redskins, Week 15—Looking for motivation

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, December 14, three days before the Washington Redskins play the Cardinals at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 1 p.m.; Jay Gruden and Greg Manusky news conferences and open locker room after practice, approx. 3 p.m.

Days until:

—Broncos @ Redskins Christmas Eve (12/24) 10
—Redskins @ Giants (12/17) 17
—NFL Draft (4/26/18) 133

State of the Redskins

Top storylines

Jobs on the line? It’s been the conventional wisdom that the jobs of Jay Gruden and his staff are safe, barring a complete collapse at the end of the year. Well, after two ugly losses we are 40 percent of the way to a complete collapse. The Redskins don’t even have to look good down the stretch, they just need to win two of the final three and be competitive in the other. Gruden might be able to survive a couple more games like the Cowboys and Chargers debacles but if that happens I wouldn’t want to be him on January 1, the day after the season ends.

Shutdowns started—Jordan Reed going on injured reserve could be the first of a few moves to end the seasons of players who won’t be healthy in time to play in more than one or two games. It lets the player dive into rehab and it lets the team sign and get a look at a player who can stay on the roster through the offseason and compete for a roster spot in 2018. There could be more coming up until Week 17.

Playing out the string—Last week, when the Redskins were technically alive for the playoffs they apparently couldn’t muster enough motivation to prepare properly. It will be interesting to see how they react this week with their playoff odds reduced to zero.

Last three games

Sunday vs. Cardinals (6-7)—The Cardinals have fallen even further than the Redskins. Two years ago, they were on their way to a first-round bye and an appearance in the NFC title game. This season they are 6-7 after suffering from a raft of injuries, including losing their starting QB and All-Pro running back David Johnson. Can two teams with nothing to play for put on an entertaining show?

Christmas Eve vs. Broncos (4-9)—And in comes another team that has fallen even further and harder. The Broncos were lifting the Super Bowl Trophy two years ago. Now, the defense that spearheaded that run is still solid but without a reliable quarterback, they are having issues. At this point, your guess at if it will be Paxton Lynch, Trevor Siemian, or Brock Osweiler starting at quarterback is as good as mine.

New Year’s Eve @ Giants (2-11)—Will this game be bye-bye to Eli? Changes are coming to New York and Manning, sometimes a Redskins nemesis and sometimes a player who gift-wrapped wins for Washington, could be on the way out. The Redskins could be playing to avoid the kind of upheaval that has already begun in the Big Apple.

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

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