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McCloughan's mentor 'adamant' about not drafting for need

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McCloughan's mentor 'adamant' about not drafting for need

If you want to get some insight into the draft philosophy of Scot McCloughan beyond what he did in his six years calling the shots in San Francisco (2005-2010) it might be instructive to take a look at his mentor, Ted Thompson. He has been the Packers’ general manager since 2005 so he has 10 drafts in Green Bay to examine.

McCloughan worked under Thompson in two different organizations. He was a regional scout for the Packers from 1994-1999 while Thompson was the director of player personnel. They both were in Seattle from 2000-2004 when Thompson was the VP of football operations and McCloughan serving as the director of college scouting.

Thompson’s draft philosophy, which has built a Packers team that has a Super Bowl title and is annually in contention to get another one, is simple—take the best player available. But what about team needs?

They are considered, said Thompson, but only as part of the equation.

"You factor everything in. But [need] doesn't carry as much weight as it might with other organizations,” Thompson said during his annual pre-draft news conference Wednesday, via Jason Wilde of ESPN Wisconsin. “There's a certain amount of weighting in terms of need, but I am adamant that that's not the way to draft. The way to draft is to take the best player . . . If you reach and take something that’s not quite as good, then you may not be getting the same value. I know you don’t believe that, but it’s true. That’s what we do.”

Not coincidentally, this is very similar to what McCloughan has said about filling needs vs. taking the best player available. He referred to Thompson when he talked about how he builds his roster during his introductory press conference in January.

“Everybody says, ‘Well you need this, this, this and this,’ which I understand,” he said. “You know, a lot of times in pro free agency, you can address those needs a little bit, but I learned from Ron Wolf early on, I learned from Ted Thompson early on, I learned from John Schneider, you can never have enough good football players on your team. If you keep adding that, you’re going to have your couple of two, three superstars that are going come out and become stars.”

The few times that Thompson has abandoned his core philosophy the results have not been good. Wilde points to the 2012 draft as one that didn’t work out because the GM went for need. The Packers had finished the 2011 season ranked dead last in defense. Even though they went 15-1, they were carried by the offense and were one and done in the playoffs, losing at home to the Giants.

In 2012 Thompson used his first six picks on defensive players and traded up three times, a maneuver that is highly out of character for him. Only three players from that draft remain with the team. That is a serious issue for a Packers team that acquires players almost exclusively through the draft.

The issues created by the poor returns from 2012 were compounded by the fact that 2011 was not a strong draft for Green Bay either either. Only one player of the 10 Thompson drafted that year, second-round pick Randall Cobb, is still on the roster.

It doesn’t look like Thompson particularly reached for need in the 2011 draft. He took four defensive players and six on offense. What happen to that draft?

“Quite frankly, sometimes it just doesn’t work out. As much as you’d like to have some sort of magic pill to take before I pick up the phone and draft somebody, we don’t have that,” Thompson said. “We just have to depend on our work and what we thinks going to happen in the future with [each] young man in this organization. Sometimes it doesn’t work out.”

It’s also possible that 2011 was just a bad draft year. The Redskins had 11 picks and only two, Ryan Kerrigan and Niles Paul, are still on the roster.

I recommend reading the entire article if you want some good insight into how Thompson operates and, by extension, what McCloughan might do when things get rolling at the draft a week from today. 

RELATED: [Should the Redskins pick up RG3's option?]

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Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

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USA Today Sports

Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

Yahoo! Sports ranked all 32 head coaches in the NFL and Washington Redskins fans may not be too happy with where Jay Gruden ended up.

Entering his fifth year as head coach, Gruden was ranked as the No. 27 head coach in the NFL. Here's Yahoo!'s rationale behind his ranking:

"Four years, one playoff berth, one plus-.500 season, one franchise quarterback run out of town."

All that is ... not false, but the whole franchise quarterback being run out of town thing is at least debatable. And even if the ranking is fair, it's still okay to be upset because it's the middle of July, training camp hasn't started yet and the offseason is the perfect time to get irrationally angry about things like these.

Elsewhere in the NFC, Giants head coach Pat Shurmur checks in at No. 23, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is No. 17 and the Eagles' Doug Pederson is No. 2.

Unsurprisingly, Bill Belichick was ranked No. 1; he may be the greatest of all time when all is said and done, if not already. The top five rounds out with Pederson at No. 2, New Orleans's Sean Payton at No. 3, Minnesota's Mike Zimmer at No. 4 and Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin at No. 5.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

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10 Questions in 10 Days: What can the Redskins expect from Derrius Guice?

10 Questions in 10 Days: What can the Redskins expect from Derrius Guice?

With Redskins Training Camp set to begin July 26th, JP Finlay takes a look at 10 of the most pressing questions for the Burgundy and Gold before the team heads to Richmond. 

No. 10: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart 

No. 9: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

No. 8: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?

No. 7: Do the Redskins have a 1,000-yard WR?

No. 6: Is Shawn Lauvao the concern, or is the issue bigger on the O-Line?

No. 5: What can the Redskins expect from Derrius Guice?

No rookie draft pick excited the Redskins fan base like Derrius Guice since Robert Griffin III came to Washington back in 2012. That's a fact. 

Guice slipped during the draft to near the end of the second round, a position much too late for a player with his talent. Rumors emerged that he had character issues, but in the months since April's selection, they seem unfounded. In quick time, Guice has emerged as a Redskins fan favorite and has performed plenty of charitable acts.

So, moving past the erroneous off-field questions, it's time to manage expectations for what Guice can do on the field. 

DJ Swearinger recently said he expects Guice to make the Pro Bowl and rush for more than 1,000 yards. As a rookie. (Listen here)

That's not unheard of, last year rookie Kareem Hunt led the NFL in rush yards. In 2016, Ezekiel Elliott did the same thing. Rookie running backs can step in and produce right away in the NFL, unlike some positions that usually bring more of a learning curve. 

Can Guice do that?

The first and most important questions will be health and durability. Guice dealt with lingering knee injuries last year at LSU, and the Redskins will need him fully healthy. A 1,000-yard season is not unrealistic if Guice plays a full 16-game season. It would require rushing for about 65 yards-per-game. 

The bigger key is opportunities. 

How many carries will Guice log in 2018? Early on in the season, Guice might still be learning pass protection in the Redskins scheme, and Jay Gruden will not tolerate missed assignments that result in big hits on QB Alex Smith.

If Guice can lock in on blitz pickup, 200 carries seems reasonable. Remember that Chris Thompson will still be a featured part of the Redskins offense, and Rob Kelley will get chances too. 

Last season, Samaje Perine led all rushers with 175 carries. He didn't do much with the chances, averaging just 3.4 yards-per-carry. Kelley had 62 carries before injuries shut his season down after parts of seven games. 

Combine Perine and Kelley's carries, and then things start to get interesting. With 230 carries, at an average of 4 yards a pop, Guice starts to approach 1,000 yards.

One problem with extrapolating too much data from last season is the crazy amount of variables. Late in the year, with Perine largely ineffective and a very beat up offensive line, the Redskins simply couldn't produce on the ground. In their last five games of 2017, the Redskins never rushed for more than 100 yards. They averaged just 60 yards-per-game on the ground during that stretch, including a season low 31 rush yards against Arizona in December. 

The line can't be that beat up again, right?

Guice has to be able to deliver more than Perine, right?

If the answers to those questions are yes, then a 1,000-yard season seems possible for Guice in 2018. 

One misnomer from the Redskins 2017 campaign emerged that Washington simply did not run the ball well or enough. In fact, early in the year when the Redskins looked like a possible playoff team, they ran the ball quite well. In three of the first four games, Washington went over 100 yards on the ground, including 229 rush yards in a Week 2 win over the Rams. 

Guice might get to 1,000 yards in 2018. It's no sure thing, and there are plenty of variables, but it's possible. That hasn't happened in Washington since Alfred Morris, and would be a very welcome sight. 

The rookie runner has invigorated the Redskins faithful, and that's before he even steps on the field. If Guice can produce, the fans will go crazy.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

— Contract years: Redskins face 5 tough decisions 

— Dead Money: Trades, misses and mistakes hurt Redskins salary cap

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