It appears that the Redskins are putting a greater emphasis on intangibles when they are putting together their draft board and that might remove some prospects from consideration.
“What we’re looking for is people who love football and want to play football and want to win with the Washington Redskins,” said Bruce Allen during the team’s pre-draft press conference on Tuesday.
“You find out what a guy’s work ethic is and how important football is to him,” added Director of Player Personnel Scott Campbell. “As opposed to a guy that doesn’t love the weight room, is late, doesn’t work, is overweight, never in shape when the season starts – those are flags to you on how important football is to that player.”
The Redskins perhaps sent a signal that they are serious about character issues a few hours after the press conference when they waived Tanard Jackson right after the safety came off of a two-season suspension for violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. They certainly could have used someone with Jackson’s talent at the thin safety position but it’s possible that they had doubts about “how important football is to that player”.
There are some players in the draft pool who have been linked to the Redskins who might not survive the new emphasis on character and desire. Notre Dame defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt reported out of shape prior to his 2013 junior season, a red flag specifically mentioned by Campbell. There have been questions about the work ethic of Virginia offensive tackle Morgan Moses. The team’s scouts will certainly investigate those issues. Campbell said that they talk to “the coaches, the trainers, the strength coaches” and others to gauge work ethic and love of the game.
Some different issues have to make you wonder about some other players who seem to be fits for the Redskins. Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins of Washington has a reputation for being a “wild child”, a reputation bolstered by a 2013 one-car accident that led to a DUI conviction. That certainly will show up in the grade the Redskins give him. Jace Amaro, another tight end out of Texas Tech, has March 2012 arrest for credit card fraud and an incident where he was ejected from the Red Raiders’ 2012 bowl game after throwing a punch.
Before taking the likes of Tuitt, Moses, Amaro, and Seferian-Jenkins off of the Redskins’ draft board remember that the intangibles are just part of the equation. “The grade that a player has on him, his final grade, takes into consideration all of his physical talents and the desire that we feel that he has to play,” said Allen.
So it sounds like players with great talent can overcome some off-field issues. But perhaps not as easily as they have been able to in the past.