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Redskins offseason Q&A: In McCloughan we trust?


Redskins offseason Q&A: In McCloughan we trust?

With a new general manager in charge, new faces throughout the lineup as well as new assistant coaches bringing new ideas to the table, the Redskins are a team in transition. Between now and the start of training camp, reporters Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will examine the top questions facing Jay Gruden and Co. as they prepare for the season.

Will Scot McCloughan be the franchise savior?

The Redskins stunned everyone in early January when they hired Scot McCloughan, who helped build NFC powers in Green Bay, Seattle, and San Francisco, as their general manager. Since then he has made his mark on the team, bringing in six free agents on defense and doing some wheeling and dealing to be able to draft 10 players. It looks like McCloughan is off to a good start but can he build the Redskins into a consistent contender, a team that will annually be in the mix to win the Super Bowl?

Tandler: In addition to a noted eye for being able to evaluate talent, McCloughan brings a philosophy to team building, something that has been lacking in the rudderless Redskins organization. Even better, you can write it on a matchbook cover—“Big guys win”.

Armed with this guiding principle, McCloughan signed Terrance Knighton and Stephen Paea on the defensive line and spent his first three draft picks on big offensive tackle Brandon Scherff, long-armed outside linebacker Preston Smith, and bruising running back Matt Jones. It all looks good right now but there is a long way to go before the Redskins become playoff contenders.

Whether McCloughan can get the Redskins there may well depend on if he can find a quarterback. If Robert Griffin III works out, that’s great but that’s far from certain. If the team is going to be in need of a quarterback it will be up to McCloughan to pick one. How well that player works out will go a long way towards determining the fate of the Redskins and likely will be the determining factor in how McCloughan’s legacy is ultimately judged.

El-Bashir: So far, I really like most of what McCloughan has done. He resisted the urge to throw around a lot of money in free agency, which would have been easy to do given the team’s many holes. That’s not to say he was cheap; he dipped into Dan Snyder’s wallet and made some solid signings. Just as important, though, he bowed out of the bidding for more expensive free agents when the dollar amount and term exceeded the value he placed on the player.

I also liked how McCloughan handed his first draft in Washington. He hoped to make 10 picks. And, thanks to a couple of shrewd moves, he ended up doing just that, while adding a sixth rounder next year, too. It’s far to early to declare this year’s draft a success, but drafting in volume and accumulating picks is a key part of McCloughan’s philosophy.

In the end, McCloughan stayed true to what has worked for him in the past. I saw that as a good sign.

But on the horizon there are some potentially tricky waters that McCloughan must navigate. The general manager didn’t hire the head coach, the starting quarterback or much of the front office staff—three of biggest factors in building a winner. That doesn’t have to be a problem. But it’s not ideal, either. If it becomes obvious that changes need to be made, will The Football Guy have the autonomy to football decisions?

Previously on Redskins offseason Q&A:

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Late push for McGlinchey, Landry and Davenport would help Redskins at 13

Late push for McGlinchey, Landry and Davenport would help Redskins at 13

For months, draft conversation suggested that there wasn't an offensive tackle to pick in the Top 10. And after Bradley Chubb, there wasn't an edge defender worth a Top 10 pick either. 

All of a sudden, that conversation is changing. 

Late charges from Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey, Boston College defensive end Harold Landry and University of Texas San Antonio pass rusher Marcus Davenport are starting to influence mock drafts.

On Wednesday, NFL Network's Peter Schrager predicted the 49ers to take McGlinchey with the ninth overall pick. Charley Casserly, in a mock draft with NBC Sports Washington on Monday, predicted the Chicago Bears take Davenport with the eighth overall pick. Reports on Landry are all over the place, but some guess he could break the Top 10 as well.

The thing to remember about the NFL: It's a passing league. Positions tied to the quarterback are the most important, and that means protecting the QB and getting after the QB is in high demand. No position will ever get over-drafted like quarterback, but it's not a surprise that teams might reach for players at tackle or edge rusher.

What does this mean for the Redskins holding the No. 13 pick?

It means great news. 

Washington will already benefit from four QBs going in the Top 10. That will likely push down an elite talent to their draft spot.

If McGlinchey, Davenport or Landry also crack the Top 10? Even better.

The Redskins need help at just about every position group on the defensive side of the ball. It's well documented how the team struggled against the run in 2017, but the defense also lost Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller this offseason. 

There will be a number of weapons available for Washington at 13, and that could include players like Minkah Fitzpatrick or Derwin James in addition to Vita Vea or Da'Ron Payne. It might mean Tremaine Edmunds or Roquan Smith lasts to 13 too. 

For the Redskins, Fitzpatrick or James at 13 seems like a steal. Both players present elite potential at the evolving position of nickel cornerback. They can play some corner, some safety, and James might even be able to play some linebacker. 

Regardless of the eventual destination for James or Fitzpatrick, if more surprise players sneak into the Top 10 on Thursday night, the better Washington's options become. And that includes the possibility of trading down, Vea or Payne, Smith or Edmunds.

More elite options at 13 only helps the Redskins. 

Redskins fans should be rooting for Mike McGlinchey, Harold Landry or Marcus Davenport early Thursday night. The folks in Ashburn will be. 

- Mock Draft 9.0: Almost draft day
- Top Prospects: RB options for the Redskins
- Top Prospects: WR options for the Redskins
- Need To Know: Rich Tandler's Seven-Round Redskins Mock Draft
- Mega-Mock Predictions: DC Media choose No. 13 pick

Want more Redskins talk? Of course you do. Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Once undrafted, how Trey Edmunds found his way as a rookie in a crowded backfield

Once undrafted, how Trey Edmunds found his way as a rookie in a crowded backfield

NBC Sports Washington’s four-part digital series ‘E-Boyz’ -- chronicling the illustrious past, decorated present and bright future of the Edmunds family -- is NOW LIVE. Check out a new episode daily, leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft. Watch the third episode above and more here.

A position change. A school change. A season-ending injury. 

Those are the kinds of things that prevent an NFL career from ever starting. But none of those things stopped Trey Edmunds from reaching the league and contributing for the Saints as a rookie in 2017.

Trey, the oldest brother in a family that features 2018 prospects Tremaine and Terrell, came out of high school as a linebacker, but became a running back after enrolling at Virginia Tech. After three productive seasons with the Hokies, he transferred to finish up his career with Maryland, yet his senior season was cut short after fracturing his foot five games in to the schedule.

That injury was a big reason why the 2017 NFL Draft came and went without a phone call for Edmunds, so he signed with the Saints as an undrafted free agent in May. There, he played spot duty on special teams for much of his rookie campaign before his breakout moment in November:

Now, heading into his second pro year, Edmunds will reportedly have to fight for a roster spot in New Orleans again. But hey, adversity is something the 23-year-old is very familiar with, so don't bet against him.