Washington Redskins coaches, executives and scouts will gather inside the draft room at team headquarters Thursday night — and that might be the extent of their action. Their phones likely will ring, perhaps an exploratory call or two from agents or other teams, but they probably will be bystanders during the first round. The Redskins‘ first scheduled pick isn’t until Friday night in the second round, 51st overall.
While NFL commissioner Roger Goodell calls draftees to the Radio City Music Hall stage Thursday beginning at 8 p.m., handing out jerseys and posing for pictures, the Redskins will anxiously wait, hoping not to hear names of players they covet.
They’ll also savor the reason they don’t have a selection Thursday. Last year’s trade of three first-round picks, including those in 2013 and 2014, to position the franchise to draft quarterback Robert Griffin III filled a need to which everything else seems secondary.
“Anytime you have your quarterback position solved, you feel much more comfortable as a coach, I can tell you that for sure,” coach Mike Shanahan said Wednesday.
So the Redskins, fresh off their NFC East division championship, can relax just a bit while 32 players are selected Thursday. But the unpredictability of those selections means the club faces a variety of possibilities by the time its goes on the clock Friday night
“A lot depends on how it all falls in place,” Shanahan said. “You never know. So you have to be ready for different types of scenarios.”
Shanahan on Wednesday hosted his annual pre-draft news conference. Such media sessions leaguewide are exercises in evasion and misdirection, and even when an executive tells the truth, one can’t be sure of it at the time.
Shanahan in the past was inclined to trade down when it was the Redskins‘ turn to pick and several available players fit their needs. He believed he could trade back to acquire an extra pick and still select one of those players. In 2011, Washington executed three trades on the first two days of the draft and ultimately selected 12 players.
Washington went 10-6 last season, though, partly because of improved personnel. The club’s needs this spring are a bit more specific, which limits the payoff for delaying a selection.
Shanahan was vague when discussing team needs. He praised general manager Bruce Allen and vice president of football administration Eric Schaffer for navigating the club’s salary cap crisis and ensuring 21 of 22 starters from last season are under contract.
“It gives us a chance to do something this year with basically the same team we had a year ago,” he said. “We did some good things. Hopefully, we get better in a lot of different things as well. I like the nucleus we have.”
Free safety Madieu Williams is the only starter from last season no longer with the team. Shanahan expressed contentment with the state of his secondary.
He believes this draft contains deep classes of offensive linemen, defensive linemen and receivers. He did not mention depth of the defensive backs class, even though many analysts and former NFL executives believe it to be well-stocked with talent.
That said, one particular scenario is unexpected. It would be quite surprising if Washington traded up into the first round.