- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Scot McCloughan couldn’t be blamed for holding his cards close to his chest. After all, someone regarded by his peers as one of the better college scouts in the country doesn’t want to let anyone else know his draft secrets.

But the approach McCloughan is taking with regards to overseeing his first draft as the Washington Redskins’ general manager speaks to his experience. A former general manager with the San Francisco 49ers and a personnel executive with the Seattle Seahawks, McCloughan isn’t fazed by the importance of the upcoming three-day event.

“All of the work is going to be done by Thursday, Thursday morning,” McCloughan said Monday at a press conference at Redskins Park. “As a matter of fact, if you were able to walk in, you’d probably kind of start laughing because it’s just so laid back. The board is set.

“You know, I don’t want confusion. The only time it gets a little anxious is if somebody calls and offers us a pretty dang good trade — or two teams call. That’s when things might get a little bit testy at times, but I pride myself and I want that room just to be steady, like I do the football players.”

McCloughan shared a general outline of his strategy on Monday, three days before the NFL draft is set to begin. He reiterated his long-held stance that the team will approach the event with an eye toward acquiring the best player available — then further insisted that he won’t hesitate to draft a player even if he plays what the Redskins perceive to be a position of strength.

The team doesn’t have many of them — after all, it went 4-12 last season and has finished in last place in the NFC East in six of the last seven years — but spent a significant time in March, when the free agent signing period opened, overhauling its defensive line.

“We have to add good football players — especially up front, on both sides of the ball,” McCloughan said. “Any time when you can get a good defensive lineman in the draft, you need to take him. They’re very hard to come by.”
Washington’s greatest needs are at outside linebacker and along the offensive line, and should they decide to keep their first-round pick, No. 5 overall, they could be in a position to address their pass rush by selecting Florida’s Dante Fowler or Clemson’s Vic Beasley.

When it comes to targeting an offensive lineman, McCloughan’s standards are simple. He wants tall, long, athletic tackles and gritty, physical guards.

“We want big guys, we want smart guys and we want tough guys,” McCloughan said. “I’ll give a little bit on athletic ability — especially inside at guard and center — for just a consistent football player that gets out there every day and you know exactly what you’ve got.”

In previous years, McCloughan has been active in spinning off his existing picks to acquire others, and on Monday, he said he’d like to turn the seven the Redskins currently hold into at least 10.

That desire comes with a stipulation. McCloughan said that he doesn’t want to get “too cute” in moving back to a certain range, understanding that it could lead to the Redskins missing out on players that they could have otherwise obtained.

“In every draft, it’s going to have its own identity at certain positions, but as with any draft, it’s what you do with it,” McCloughan said. “They’ll say, ‘OK, well, there’s more quarterbacks last year compared to this year.’ Everybody’s board is set differently, but I just know every time we pick, there’s going to be somebody on that board that ends up being a good NFL football player at any position.”

• Staff writer Tom Schad contributed to this report.

• Zac Boyer can be reached at zboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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