It's been said the best way to predict the future is to study the past. With the Washington Redskins needing safety help, that's exactly the plan here. In this case, that means looking back at Scot McCloughan's drafts over the years before projecting the best fits for the Redskins among the 2016 class.
There is no doubt that McCloughan has been one of the most pivotal pickups for the Redskins in the past decade. The general manager's ability to draft and develop teams is already something of legend. McCloughan is just getting started in Washington, but he has already impressed with one draft class. The chance for more impact comes with his second draft.
The truth is that even though the Redskins are coming off a division title, there are some serious holes with the safety position high on the needs list. DeAngelo Hall likely starts at free safety with an oft-injured Duke Ihenacho and special teams player David Bruton battling it out for strong safety duties. Kyshoen Jarrett's 2016 status remains uncertain following a late season neck injury. Even if Washington adds a veteran free agent, long term solutions are needed.
Without being able to see McCloughan's draft board, I can only look at his history to determine what he may do. With the San Francisco 49ers, he selected Reggie Smith (2008, 3rd round), 6-foot-2 Curtis Taylor (2009, 7h round) and 205-pounder Dashon Goldson among others. In Seattle, he added 6-foot-3 Eric Pinkins and 220-pounder Winston Guy. In his first draft with the Redskins, McCloughan selected the physical Kyshoen Jarrett, a three-year starter in college, in the 6th round.
Studying the player pre-draft profiles reveals clear patterns of what McCloughan desires for the back end of his defenses. Here's a cookie cutter version of the scouting profile that encompasses all the players above and others not shown:
Strengths: Leader (or captain), Physical player, aggressive, plays with attitude, explosive hitter, Good size and/or length
Weaknesses: Aggression makes them bite on play action, relies on length over long speed.
It's worth noting for Washington fans wanting help that most of his safety selections over the years didn't come in the early rounds. .
No matter how many rules are created to make football a game of finesse, McCloughan will not be the type to conform. He wants physical football players whose only protection from themselves is their pads. Let's take a look at fits for his profile.
West Virginia S Karl Joseph 5'10" 205 - If you're not big, you better play big. Joseph, who is shaped similarly to Earl Thomas, does just that. Joseph is a fast player who shows complete disregard for his body when hitting. He has the ability to play single high and make quick reads to break on the ball or the receiver. Nasty demeanor and a team leader. Passionate. His combination of hitting and coverage is special.
Florida S Keanu Neal 6'0" 211 - Neal is the type of safety who makes receivers going across the middle say, "let's not and say we did." Neal is the physically imposing safety who runs through people, not just into them. NFL.com might have said it best when they said he "explodes downhill with blood in his eyes." Smash mouth player whose hits set the tone for a defense. Enforcer.
Duke S Jeremy Cash 6'0" 212 - Cash might as well be a linebacker because of his mentality and the way he lived around the line of scrimmage. Cash loves disrupting plays near the line of scrimmage whether its shooting a gap or rocking TEs and FBs to disrupt play flow. Cash won't back down, will mix it up with anyone and often comes up on the winning end.
Southern Utah Miles Killebrew 6'2' 217 - Killebrew is the first guy you want stepping off the bus. Muscle bound boulder coming downhill. The size, mentality and physical presence McCloughan likes in a safety.
Middle Tennessee S Kevin Byard 5'11" 216 - Byard is a McCloughan wild card. He has the size but isn't as physical as the ones above. He's a good tackler but doesn't have that real pop. However, Byard provides free safety potential which isn't easy to find. He's a very smart player who lines up over the top, aligns the defense and makes good reads.
Clemson S T.J. Green - 6'2" 209 - Here is another McCloughan wild card. Scot takes football players over height/weight/speed guys. Green had limited playing time Green has great size to go with his blazing speed. He showed man coverage and skills to handle in the box. High effort guy who chased down a lot of tackles. Blazing blitzer off the edge.
Boise State S Darian Thompson 6'2" 208 - Physical around the line of scrimmage. He will disrupt the run game throwing his body around and setting an edge. He has a nose for the ball.
Boston College S Justin Simmons 6'2 202 - Simmons is versatile playing both corner and safety. He has great length and is very smart. Despite lankier frame, hits well and doesn't give up many broken tackles. He takes good angles to the ball carrier. He can play over the top and in man coverage.
Clemson S Jayron Kearse 6'4" 216 - Boom or bust. At 6'4" with 34+" arm length, this might be McCloughan's pet project. Scot loves size and length. Now add in a bloodline that includes Jevon Kearse and Phillip Buchanon. He has shown physically dominant ability but lacks motivation, often taking backseat to the rest of Clemson defense. If Kearse can come to a team where Sean Taylor excelled and be motivated by a guy who watched Kam Chancellor develop as a 5th round pick, maybe there is hope. He is not either of those players, but McCloughan has the ability to fire up people so maybe he tries to be.
Central Michigan S Kavon Frazier 6'0" 217 - Frazier is muscled-up on an NFL ready build. He's a physical player who looks to make statements when he makes contact with offensive players. Aggressive. Explosive hitter. Plays with his hair on fire on special teams.
Utah S Tevin Carter - 6'1" 218 - Carter brings attitude on the field with explosive hits. Shang Tsung should be saying "finish him" as Carter closes on ball carriers as hits, lifts, and wraps up with authority.
Paul Conner is the Film Analyst and Draft Evaluator at Breaking Burgundy. You can follow him on Twitter @P_ConnerJr
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