We need to have a conversation about what Scot McCloughan did or did not do in the NFL Draft.
Here's something the Redskins general manager did throughout the three days: Select the players and make moves he felt would best help the team.
Here's something the Redskins general manager didn't do: Tell you the whole truth.
Somehow, people view the primary draft philosophies -- pick by need or take the best player available -- as competing forces like Democrats and Republicans. How front office types and coaches discuss the matter publicly perpetuates these beliefs. There may not be a viable third option in our presidential elections that blends what people like from both sides. There is when it comes to a draft plan.
Scot McCloughan stuck to his by drafting the best player available with needs in mind. To believe anything else is to think an actual Tooth Fairy put that dollar under your pillow or that Roger Goodell is good at his job.
Most believed the Redskins must add a talented defensive lineman early in the draft. They didn't.
“I was looking," McCloughan said Monday when asked about not addressing that area until the fifth round. "Again, it’s best player [available]. It’s 53 guys. In my personal opinion, if you draft for need, that’s when you get in trouble because all of the sudden you’re like, ‘Son of a gun, we had these three guys higher and they’re going to the Pro Bowl, but we forced the issue to take that guy.’ I wanted to address it early. I wanted to address it [in the] first five picks, but again, I’m taking the best football player. I have to. For me to do my job and make this organization as strong as it can be, I’ve got to take the best football players.”
Do I believe what McCloughan is saying there? I sure do. Do I believe he's telling us the 100% truth? No, I do not.
Despite coming off an NFC East title, the Redskins had a long list of needs. Seeing as the team slow-played free agency other than one very splashy signing, essentially all of those needs remained heading into the draft.
The Redskins could have spent early picks on essentially every defensive position and, in terms of the need, nobody would have blanched. Washington needed immediate help or depth at defensive end, defensive tackle, inside linebacker and safety. Seeing as most of us thought Chris Culliver was in danger of getting released following the Josh Norman signing, corner made the list.
On offense, concerns existed about the center and the left guard position. Wide receiver wasn't viewed as a likely first-round option before Washington selected Josh Doctson, but I considered it next on the big picture need list behind DL. The Redskins weren't likely to target a running back early -- that's more of a league thing -- but depth is clearly lacking. No need for a starting quarterback, but a project to serve as a third-stringer worked.
Eliminate the QB and assuming the player selected was considered reasonable where picked in the first, second or third round, there should have been no issue taking any of those positions early in the draft. Yet, unless McCloughan had traded his way into six or more Day 1-2 picks, he couldn't have tackled all those areas ideally regardless.
Here's what he ended up drafting: WR, S, CB, DL, QB, ILB, RB. Off that needs list, only the interior offensive line wasn't addressed.
Here are the other areas Washington didn't address in the draft: starting quarterback, tight end, offensive tackle, edge rusher. What do those positions have in common? How about clear starters and viable depth. Even with concerns along the O-line, it's one unit where everyone from last season returns.
If McCloughan spent a sixth-rounder on a backup for Trent Williams or a sack-happy pup, all good. But he didn't. So you're telling me that over the course of seven rounds that there wasn't a single TE, OT or OLB who ranked higher on Washington's big board than the player they selected?
Come on, you know better than that.
Scot McCloughan did indeed draft for need. He also drafted the best players available for those needs. There is a clear path for every player drafted to make the roster. Whether they do is another story.
The idea that the GM went BPA all the way is fiction -- but his plan is one you should believe in. That's all that matters.
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