Redskins GM Scot McCloughan speaks: Making gut calls on prospects, Kirk Cousins' deal

The Redskins GM also talked free agency vs. the draft and revisits his meeting with then free agent Junior Galette last summer.

Washington Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan doesn't make a habit of granting interviews with regularity so when he does, you pay attention. McCloughan spoke at length with Bleacher Report's Jason Cole at last month's NFL owners meetings in Florida. Highlights from the Q&A:

On whether his heralded ability to pick players is a measurable skill or a gut call 

Very thorough, but it’s a gut thing early on. I can watch – and there are a lot of guys in the league who can do this – you watch five or 10 plays, you can see the physical skills. You can see it pretty quick. If it’s a receiver running a route or a pass rusher, you can see him drop his hips, that kind of stuff. That’s the easy part. The tough part is figuring out the person. Is he a competitor? What’s his toughness? What’s his mindset? I’ve been around long enough, which is great because I’ve made a lot of mistakes and I’ve learned from them, but what makes a guy average to good, good to great and great to exceptional. That’s the hard because the talent is there. Every year you see guys come out and they are physically gifted, bigger than life, whatever. But you also see guy who are in the sixth or seventh (round) or they are college free agents and they play 10 years while the other guy plays two. It’s the it factor and it’s hard to time. It’s really hard to find. That’s why I’m so big with my college scouts and my pro scouts about finding out who the person is. We’ll find out the talent level, but let’s figure out who the person is.

[BB -- This connects in part to what McCloughan told Breaking Burgundy exclusively recently about how he sees his draft day board, which sounded rather similar to a scene from the Oscar-winning movie, "A Beautiful Mind." ]

On how off-field, personal factors contribute to the evaluation with Redskins pass rusher Junior Galette as an example:

Junior Galette is another. Went to junior college, was at a Division I program, got in trouble and had to leave. Went to New Orleans, got let go, we bring him in. I sat down with him and looked him in the eye. We were there for like an hour and a half and he’s sweating and he’s nervous and I said, ‘Don’t be nervous.’ He looks at me and said, ‘Why are you being good to me?’ I said, ‘Why wouldn’t I be good to you?’ He said, ‘Nobody ever is.’ I said, ‘If you sign with us, don’t worry, I got your back. ...It’s like this year with Junior being hurt, he wasn’t the same person. He couldn’t practice, he couldn’t be with the team in the meeting rooms and in the locker rooms. He just wants to play. That’s all he knows. You get guys like that, now you’ve got something rolling. I’m not saying they’re not smart enough to do something else, but it’s the fact that this is who they are and that’s what they have been all their life.

On using the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins this offseason that will pay him $20 million next season

We did the franchise tag and I know everybody made fun of me and that’s fine. But, you know what? The guy won the division. They won nine games. They won four games the year before and turned around and won nine and he plays all 17 with the playoffs and we went on the road at the end of the season having to win and we beat Philly and Dallas, both at their places. You know, the NFC East, I don’t care if they’re good teams or bad teams, you still don’t win on the road. We didn’t early in the season, but he kept going and going and the players rallied around him.

On free agency vs. the draft

 it’s a tool I like to use because you can address needs prior to the draft, but it’s not a long-term solution. I want to draft well and identify the guys are Redskins, not just as players, but as people. Take care of them and then you start a culture on the practice field, in the meeting rooms, in the film sessions. You get guys saying, ‘Hey, if we do this right, they just took care of him and they took care of him because he does it right.’ He’s here every day, he’s smart, he’s working his tail off. It’s all about the Redskins, it’s about passion, it’s about football and that’s when you start hitting on guys.

Click here for the rest of the interview.

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