Since General Manager Scot McCloughan was hired in early January, he’s been busy retooling the Redskins’ roster via free agency and preparing for the 2015 draft. So far, he’s received mostly positive reviews. But his work is far from done. In the coming weeks, Redskins Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will examine 25 issues that must be addressed as the offseason kicks into high gear.
Should the Redskins focus on offense or defense in the draft?
Since 2010, the Redskins have drafted 42 players, and the overwhelming majority of them played on the offensive side of the ball. In fact, 25 were offensive players, 16 were defensive and there was one specialist. Will that balance change now that Scot McCloughan is in charge? History suggests it might. During McCloughan’s two-year stint as San Francisco’s general manager, the 49ers drafted 13 players—7 on defense, 6 on offense. Sure that’s a smaller sample size, but it could mean McCloughan will be less concerned about stacking the offensive cupboard and more focused on taking the best player, regardless of the side of the ball he lines up on.
El-Bashir: McCloughan has said over and again that he strongly believes in drafting the best player available with each pick. And I think he’ll adhere to that philosophy—to a certain extent. Need will play some role, particularly in the first round. To that end, I think the Redskins will draft a pass rusher with the No. 5 overall pick (as long as they don’t trade back, of course). I also think positional need will be used as a tiebreaker between two similarly ranked prospects in the later rounds. One thing I don’t think you’ll see is the Redskins loading up on offensive players as they did during the Shanahan-era and Jay Gruden’s first year. As I pointed out in the intro, during McCloughan’s tenure as the general manager in San Francisco, the 49ers picked only one more player on offense than on defense. I also went back a little further. During McCloughan’s stint as vice president of player personal in San Fran (2005-07), the 49ers drafted 29 players—15 played on offense, 14 on defense. When I look at the current Redskins roster, I see significant holes on offense and defense, both short and long term. If McCloughan stays true to his philosophy, I suspect he’ll trade back at least once and end up with pretty close to a 50-50 split in terms of offensive and defensive players.
Tandler: The conventional wisdom among fans and many in the media is that since the Redskins loaded up on the defensive side of the ball in free agency they will focus on the offensive side of the ball during the draft. And indeed, they did go exclusively on defense during free agency, signing three linemen, a cornerback, and two safeties while signing no offensive players. But it’s not as simple as that. As Tarik noted, McCloughan’s basic philosophy is to take the best player available. All indications are that the best on the board when pick No. 5 rolls around will be a defensive player, like an edge rusher like Dante Fowler or Vic Beasley. And, as Tarik also said, need will guide the picks to an extent. The Redskins need depth at safety and at inside linebacker. On offense, Washington probably would like to pick up a right tackle and a third-down running back at a minimum. The truth is, however, that he might not be able to fulfill his shopping list. The draft rarely goes as planned. Perhaps McCloughan would like to fill the needs listed above. But right before they plan to take, say, a tackle, there’s a run on them and nobody they want is left on the board. Or maybe there is a cornerback sitting there who is head and shoulders above not only the tackles but also everyone else available. The plan goes out the window and a new strategy is formulated while waiting for the next pick. So while McCloughan may be going in with a preference for taking players on offense, but only 1/32 of the process is under his control.
25 questions series
- Who will replace Brian Orakpo?
- Can Pierre Garçon bounce back to his 2013 production?
- What will the Redskins do at right tackle?
- Can Hatcher put up double-digit sacks?
- Do the Redskins need more depth at running back?
- Will the rushing attack look different with Callahan?
- What can the Redskins expect from Jordan Reed?
- What to expect from the draft class of 2014
- What will the cornerback depth chart look like?
- A challenger for Kai Forbath?
- Who will start at right guard?
- Are the Redskins set at safety?
- How long will it take Scot McCloughan to build a winner?
- What should we expect from Joe Barry’s defense?
- Should the Redskins find a new kick returner?
- What will a successful 2015 season look like?
- Can we expect more special teams improvement?
- Who will be the third down back?
- What will the QB depth chart look like
- Can RG3 hold on to the starting QB job?
- Can they improve their turnover ratio?
- Can they get to the top 10 in sacks?
- Will the Redskins become “tough in the trenches”?