Much has been made of the Redskins’ conscious effort to draft big players this year. Their first three picks were very much on the heavy side for their positions among players in the draft and the theme continued with a few exceptions through the seven picks that followed.
But one trend went largely unnoticed until the draft was over and the list of 10 players underwent some scrutiny. Scot McCloughan mostly picked players who were true to their schools.
Of the 10 draft picks, nine completed all of their college eligibility. Only running back Matt Jones, the team’s third-round pick, was an early entry into the draft.
McCloughan said that he picked up his preference for players who played four years of college ball from Mike Holmgren. Once when McCloughan was working with the former Packers and Seahawks coach, he as assigned a research project. Holmgren wanted him to compare the careers of quarterbacks who stayed for four years to those who left early.
“At first I kind of thought, ‘Well, what’s it really matter?’” McCloughan recalled. “And he told me, he says, ‘I want guys – they tell you something, they finish it.’”
It’s not necessarily what an athlete learns in the classroom that McCloughan is interested in. It’s the matter of living up to an obligation.
“That’s very important,” he said. “I’m not saying there hasn’t been underclassmen who didn’t get their degree who aren’t really food football players, and there always will be, but I think when it comes down to getting close to it, I’ll take the guy that committed to something and finished it.”
While a draft class with 90 percent four-year players shows that McCloughan does strongly believe in what he says it’s likely that a player’s talent could persuade him to make an exception. It has been widely reported that the top two players on the Redskins’ board were two underclassmen, edge defender Dante Fowler and wide receiver Amari Cooper. They were both gone by the tine Washington’s pick came around but there’s a very good chance that McCloughan would have taken one of them over Brandon Scherff, who completed his four years at Iowa, had one or both been available.
It seems that players who complete their eligibility have a leg up on those who did not but McCloughan doesn’t view it as an ironclad rule.
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