Scot McCloughan was predictably excited about his first draft class as general manager of the Washington Redskins.
In a post-draft press conference Monday, McCloughan talked about the overarching themes of the 10-player class, including a focus on large-school players who spent four years in college. But he also spoke about several draftees individually, and the roles several players may have on the team.
Here are some of the highlights.
McCloughan on No. 5 overall pick Brandon Scherff, and whether he will start immediately at right tackle:
“The thing about it, which is great, is that as soon as we drafted him, everybody’s like OK, he’s going to be your starting right tackle, your starting right guard. No, no. He’s got to come in an earn the job. From the standpoint of the player himself, the whole package. It’s what I look for. I’ve been lucky to be around this league a long time and seen players succeed that have that much ability, but also throw the character in there, the passion, the competitiveness, the toughness that he has. I wanted my first pick here to be, no matter what, somebody that’s not just an impressive player but an impressive person. Somebody you can build around. Not only does he come in as a good football player, but guys around him will be better because of the way he approaches the game.”
On Scherff’s ability to handle outside pass-rushers at the NFL level:
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“Like I said he played tackle in college. He played in the Big Ten and started many, many years and had a lot of success. He’s a good enough foot athlete, not just from the athleticism and size. Everybody says, ‘Well, he’s only got 33 and 3/4 [inch] arms.’ That’s fine. The average is 34. OK, so he’s a quarter-inch off. He’s going to succeed because not just with his athleticism, size and toughness, but the instincts for the position. He knows how to play tackle, and that’s why he’s had success in college. You can’t teach instincts. He’ll be fine wherever we put him. He’s one of those guys that can succeed no matter what.”
On outside linebacker Preston Smith, the team’s second-round pick:
“First and foremost: SEC, dominant player. Size, length. He has the ability to play, on certain downs, stand up in a two-point stance, and on certain [downs], pass rush in a three-point stance. He played down at Mississippi State a majority of the time. What was unique about him, when they go to the three-man front, he’d move to nose tackle and play over the center and had success rushing the passer from inside there. You’ll see as I go through each year, more and more, you’re going to see I do a lot of big school guys and a lot of SEC guys. That’s important to me. Because they’ve been in the big games. They’ve been around the 80,000 fans. They’ve been playing Alabamas. They’ve been playing LSUs. ANd it’s not too big for them to come out here. He’s unique because he’s got 34 1/2-inch arms. He’s almost 6-5. He’s 270 pounds. And he can rush the passer. It’s a great tandem.”
On why he believes Smith, who played defensive end at Mississippi State, can make a seamless transition to linebacker in a 3-4 scheme:
“You could see the athleticism on tape, no doubt about it. Flexibility in his lower body, length in his arms. But at the pro day, they worked him as a linebacker. Dropped him, flipped his hips, made him catch the ball. He might have the best hands on our team when he comes in here. So I mean, he’s a unique athlete. He’s impressive. Like I said, 6-5, 270 and he ran a 4.7. He had sack production like I said, even on the center, in college, in the SEC, which is hard to do. He’s got natural pass-rush instincts, and you’ll see, he’s got the flexibility in his hips and lower end and the quickness to get it done.”
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On running back Matt Jones, who was selected in the third round, and whether he might have been available later in the draft:
“He might not have been, too. You never know, you never know. It’s part of the game. That’s why it’s not an exact science. I’ve had him, we had him put in the third round for a long time. You can always say it’d be nice to get a guy in the fourth, or the fifth, and take someone else, but at that point, he was the best player on our board and I had absolutely no problem taking him in the third. It was funny, I talked to Frank Gore last night and my first draft in San Fran, we took him in the third. I said, ‘If he’s half the player you are, we’ll be OK.’ I’m excited about Matt. He came in and, you guys met him, he’s a big body guy. He’s a good football player, he’s tough as crud.”
On wide receiver Jamison Crowder’s route-running ability:
“Excellent. Excellent. For an undersized guy he has a chip on his shoulder. He’s a really good punt returner and he is a receiver first, punt returner second. He’s going to come in here and you put him in the slot and he’ll be tough to cover. He’s a football player.”
On wide receiver Evan Spencer, a sixth-round pick who profiles as a contributor on special teams:
“You know what’s really cool about that? Everyone says his brother [area scout Cole Spencer] works here and all that. I told him prior to the draft I said I have him put on a spot not because of the relation but that’s because what I think of him as a football player. He was even a round higher than we took him on our board. I’m very excited. I got a really nice text from [Cole] last night, and he’s like, ‘Listen, to hear my brother announced as a Redskin was so strong.’ Very cool.”