Washington Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan can’t wait to see what general manager Scot McCloughan comes up with in his second NFL draft with the team.
“You look at our first three draft picks last year - (running back) Matt Jones, (linebacker) Preston (Smith) and (offensive lineman Brandon) Scherff. Those guys were all humongous contributors for us, just in their first year with us,” Kerrigan said. “So it’s definitely exciting to know that was the first draft Scot had here, and I can imagine it’s just going to get better.”
Coming off an NFC East title and playoff appearance in coach Jay Gruden’s second season, the Redskins own the 21st overall pick in the draft, which starts Thursday night in Chicago.
McCloughan also has one choice each in Rounds 2-6, and two in Round 7, for a total of eight selections over the draft’s three days. But for all the subterfuge employed by NFL front-office types at this time of year, Washington’s GM is not at all shy about making one thing plain: McCloughan likes to accumulate as many picks as he can.
So trading down from No. 21 to grab additional players is a possibility.
While the process of overhauling a depleted roster began a year ago for McCloughan, who helped provide the players that the Redskins used for a 9-7 record before a loss to Green Bay in the wild-card round, he still has plenty of work to do.
After overseeing a relatively quiet ride through free agency, McCloughan shook things up less than a week ahead of the draft by signing cornerback Josh Norman after the Carolina Panthers let him go. It was a move reminiscent of the sort of pomp and circumstance that used to accompany owner Dan Snyder’s annual spending spree.
Until adding Norman, who represents a significant upgrade in the secondary, the Redskins mostly added spare parts and let go veteran leaders such as safety Dashon Goldson and nose tackle Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton. They also cut ties with a couple of guys drafted in 2012: Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris.
Some things to know about the Redskins’ 2016 draft:
BEST, NOT NEED: A year ago, as he was introducing himself to his new teams’ fans, McCloughan said he would not be drafting for need and would be seeking the best player available with each choice. He also proved himself mainly interested in the major conferences, with nine of last year’s 10 picks coming from schools in the SEC, Big Ten or ACC.
TRENCHES: McCloughan talks about how he wants to build his team along the offensive and defensive lines - his initial draft pick for the Redskins was Scherff, No. 5 overall, who started every game at right guard. So look for the Redskins to go after players for the DL and OL. They need particular help along the defensive line, especially now that Knighton left to sign with the Patriots and Jason Hatcher retired. And while Washington is set at left tackle (Trent Williams), right tackle (Morgan Moses) and right guard (Scherff), center is a position where McCloughan might want to take someone.
MORE DEFENSE: There is plenty of room for improvement on defense, though Washington appears in good shape at pass-rushing outside linebacker with Ryan Kerrigan and Junior Galette, and Norman is a game-changer. Still, the team could use help at inside linebacker, while a star-in-the-making at safety could be a priority.
RUNNING BACK: With Morris gone, and concerns about Jones’ fumbling and injuries, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Redskins look for a durable running back who could take a chunk of carries.
RECEIVERS: Two key wide receivers are entering the last year of their contracts: DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. So after getting a starter for the slot in the fourth round last year, Jamison Crowder, Washington might try to find another youngster, perhaps with some height to help in the red zone.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and AP NFL Twitter feed: www.twitter.com/AP_NFL
Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HowardFendrich
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.