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Need to Know: Redskins GM McCloughan's five best player acquisitions

Need to Know: Redskins GM McCloughan's five best player acquisitions

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, January 27, 33 days before the March 1 NFL franchise tag deadline.


Days until:

NFL free agency starts (3/9) 41
—NFL Draft (4/27) 90
First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 226

Scot McCloughan’s five value acquisitions

Here are the five best players Scot McCloughan has either drafted or signed as a free agent. Contract cost and draft position are taken into consideration. I’ll take a look at his five worst here sometime in the next few days.

5. CB Quinton Dunbar, undrafted free agent—The converted wide receiver has had his share of ups and downs over his two seasons. But he has come up with some big plays. In particular, two end zone interceptions of Eli Manning, one at FedEx Field in 2015 and one in the Meadowlands last season were critical plays in important wins over the Giants. Any time you can get a CB who can contribute like that as a UDFA that’s good value.

4. RB Rob Kelley, undrafted free agent—“Fat Rob” went from being an unknown in training camp to a player who showed some promise in the preseason to a surprise on the initial 53-man roster to the starting running back for the last half of the season. He had his ups and downs but he was productive enough to hold on to the job. Kelley had 180 touches and did not fumble. That’s important since that is the issue that sent predecessor Matt Jones to the bench.

Related: NFL mock draft ver. 2.0

3. TE Vernon Davis, $2.4 million free agent—He is the only veteran free agent on this list. Davis was thought to be washed up after struggling during the 2015 season but McCloughan bet $1.1 million in fully guaranteed money that he wasn’t. The veteran proved to be very valuable as he caught 44 passes for 583 yards and two touchdowns. With Jordan Reed missing four games with injuries, Davis provided some much-needed depth.

2. LB/S Su’a Cravens, 2nd round—He had his share of stumbles as a rookie and he will have to deal with a position change to safety in 2017. But the future looks bright for the versatile, athletic Cravens. If he can solidify half of the safety position, a problem area for the last decade, he could move up to No. 1 on this list.

More Redskins: 5 salary cap bargains in 2017

1. WR Jamison Crowder, 4th round—Crowder was bypassed in the draft because he was undersized but McCloughan saw the type of “football player” he likes in the Duke product. He quickly became the starting slot receiver and in two years he has averaged 63 receptions, 726 yards, and four touchdowns per season.

Also under consideration: McCloughan signed LB Mason Foster and DB Will Blackmon as injury replacements in early 2016 and both developed into starters . . . K Dustin Hopkins has missed some field goals but his ability to consistently pound kickoffs into the end zone has helped the special teams immeasurably. . . Since some will ask, G Brandon Scherff is a very good player but the fifth overall pick is too high for a guard, even one that makes the Pro Bowl in his second year. He will need to garner some All-Pro honors before he can justify that price.

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Ron Rivera identifies two lesser-known names that'll make a big difference for the Redskins


Ron Rivera identifies two lesser-known names that'll make a big difference for the Redskins

Are you a Redskins fan who's feeling totally refreshed now that the franchise is heading in a new direction?

If so, then you're absolutely aware of the names Ron Rivera, Kyle Smith, Jack Del Rio and Scott Turner. They are, respectively, Washington's new head coach, new leader of the front office, new defensive coordinator and new offensive coordinator.

There are others worth knowing, though, like Ryan Vermillion and Rob Rogers.

Those names may sound familiar — they're the team's new Head Athletic Trainer and Senior VP of Football Administration — or they may not. Regardless of whether you knew them already, you must know that Ron Rivera believes the two ex-Panthers employees will really contribute with the Redskins.

"You want to put people around you that are familiar with what you want and how you want it done, and these are guys that were with me from the beginning," Rivera told reporters at the Combine on Wednesday. "So they have an understanding of what we want. So we're going to go out and try and implement that."

Both Vermillion and Rogers were in Carolina for the entirety of Rivera's time there, and now, they'll start fresh with him as he tries to reorient the Burgundy and Gold. Some have been skeptical of Rivera bringing so many former members of the Panthers with him to his new job, but he's obviously viewing that as a pro, not a con.

"One of the things that I talked about was trying to develop a sustainable winning culture," Rivera said of his comments after taking over the Redskins. "We had a little bit of that going for a while in Carolina. We had a good five-year stretch. Unfortunately, through attrition, we weren't able to continue that. But that's the starting point."

For most NFL organizations, the changing of trainers would merely mean a new placard next to a door at the facility and not much else to those outside of the team. In Washington, however, it's crucial news.

Redskins supporters are basically scarred from the last few seasons of constant injury problems, and last season, they saw Trent Williams hold out largely because he didn't want to deal with those who botched a cancer diagnosis that put his life in jeopardy. Hopefully, those days are done.

"One of the things that we had to do, that we wanted to do, was redevelop the trust in the training room," Rivera said. "I couldn't think of a better person than Ryan Vermillion. I really, truly couldn't. I'm going into my 34th year in the league and I've been around a lot of good trainers. He really makes me believe that he is one of the best ones because of the way he works."

Redskins supporters were also very fond of Eric Schaffer, a longtime employee of Dan Snyder who was renowned for his contract negotiations and salary cap management. Therefore, when news broke that Schaffer wouldn't be a part of Rivera's plan going forward, there was angst.

Yet according to Rivera, there's nothing to stress about when it comes to those dealings.

"Rob Rogers is a guy that, after having hired him, it's been real interesting to hear some of the agents and some of the league personnel tell me, 'Boy, you've got a really good guy in Rob,'" he said. "He's a guy that I know of and know who he is, so I'm excited about having him as part of it as well."

Starting Week 1 of 2020, it'll be Redskins players who'll obviously be most responsible for whether this new era goes successfully or not.

That said, people like Vermillion and Rogers will matter leading up to and past that point, too. Their new ideas and voices won't show up in highlights on Sundays, but they'll absolutely make a difference in their own right.


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Ron Rivera has spoken to Quinton Dunbar, hopes he shows up to OTAs 'ready to roll'

Ron Rivera has spoken to Quinton Dunbar, hopes he shows up to OTAs 'ready to roll'

It's been a wild month for Quinton Dunbar.

The Redskins cornerback first requested a trade on Feb. 10, citing the team would not commit to him long-term. Dunbar then walked back on that request two days later, saying his request was blown out of proportion and he just wanted to know where he stands with the Redskins new regime. But after the team reportedly declined to engage in conversation about the matter, Dunbar told ESPN's Josina Anderson he still wants out of Washington.

Dunbar enters the final year of his contract, one that includes no guaranteed money.

Ron Rivera addressed local media at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Wednesday for the first time since the Dunbar news broke, and the new Redskins head coach said he spoke to the cornerback and they "had a great conversation."

Despite Dunbar's requests, Rivera expects the cornerback to report to the facility on April 6, when the team begins Organized Team Activities (OTAs). The cornerback previously told NBC Sports Washington he didn't plan on reporting to OTAs without a new contract.

"I know what he has said, and we won't know until April 6, but the hope is that he'll come in ready to roll," Rivera said. "He is under contract."

Rivera expressed the need to continue having an open dialogue with Dunbar and making sure the two of them are on the same page moving forward.

"I do understand his point of view," Rivera said. "It's something just he and I need to continue to talk about. He is a quality player in this league and he's a solid football player."

Since taking over as the Redskins head coach in early January, Rivera has preached identifying which of his players will be part of the team's core. Dunbar, who emerged as a quality cornerback a season ago, could certainly fit that bill.

Dunbar led Washington with four interceptions in 2019 and finished the No. 2 ranked cornerback by Pro Football Focus. Injuries are a concern; he's missed 14 games over the past two seasons, but he's been very productive when on the field. The once wide receiver turned cornerback is due for a bigger payday, one he's certainly earned.

Rivera said Dunbar is certainly a player that could be a core guy for Washington, but admitted he's still evaluating everyone through the first few months he's been on the job.

"I think he's a guy that most certainly [could be a core guy]," Rivera said. "The thing is that I hope everyone understands, I don't know this group of guys. I really don't. You've got to be able to go out there and assess the talent. Whether they fit what you want to fit. At the end of the day, I think everyone has to understand that, come together and show everybody whether you fit or not."

Whether Dunbar remains with Washington for the long haul is unclear, but the 58-year-old head coach is going to make him prove himself to the new regime.

"I'm going to sit down with him and explain to him where I see you, and that I would love for you to come out and show me," Rivera said. "That's what I would like to do."

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