There’s still no official general manager on the premises, but the Washington Redskins still held their customary pre-draft press conference Monday afternoon at Redskins Park. Director of College Scouting Scott Campbell fielded questions about plans for the team’s plans for the 2017 NFL Draft and other organizational matters. Here are the four things to know from the day as we get closer to the draft kicking off on Thursday.
Who’s In Charge?
That’s been the question as it relates to the draft ever since the Redskins fired now ex-general manager Scot McCloughan last month. The two specific questions involve the team’s draft board/ranking of all prospects and potential trades. Campbell was asked about both situations.
Board: Campbell and the team’s scouts “have been aligning the board” while coach Jay Gruden and his assistants recently began sharing their input from a scheme standpoint. Team president Bruce Allen is also part of the discussions. While McCloughan’s fingerprints remain in how the organization views some player, Campbell stated, plenty changes have occurred as more information enters the process.
Trade: Essentially Allen is running the show. The basic workflow, as described by Campbell, has Eric Schaffer, the team’s contract negotiator, and Director of Pro Personnel Alex Santos “constantly calling teams” and taking calls based on Allen’s “instructions.” “Once they get that information, they’ll tell the table in the front and say, ‘Hey, we can trade back for this, we can trade up for that.’ It would be me and Bruce and Jay saying ‘No, no, we’ve got enough guys there’ or say ‘I like these guys,’ or like, “Hey, there’s guys there.’ So it’s kind of a discussion amongst the people, and most times it’s Bruce saying, ‘Just tell them we’re not interested,’ or he says, ‘Get the league on the phone. We’re going to make that trade.’”
What’s The Strategy?
This is often framed as “Best player available vs. team needs.” Campbell made it clear which side he’s on.
“The way I’m going to frame the answer and the age-old answer of ‘I’m going to take the best player available.’ And if that serves your needs, that’s a bonus,” Campbell said.
That’s frankly not always ideal because sometimes the best player simply makes little sense for a specific roster – Campbell said don’t look for a left tackle at 17 because of Trent Williams. However, it’s more than fine for Washington’s situation. That’s because virtually every position has some issue, either for 2017 or the long haul. Allen previously stated that final decisions on which player to select will come down to what the board reveals. Campbell reiterated as much.
So, about the quarterback…
There was no direct Kirk Cousins discussion, either about the player or his forever-lingering contract situation. There was a question about the Redskins dealt with evaluating the prospects considering the uncertainty. Cousins is currently slated to play the 2017 season under the franchise tag unless a long-term deal is agreed upon before July 15. In that scenario, Cousins becomes a free agent next year and the likelihood of a return decreases because another franchise tag would run the Redskins in the $30 million per year range.
“We are approaching it like we do with all the other positions,” Campbell said. “You have got to evaluate all the quarterbacks, all the other positions just like all the others, for the integrity of the board to kind of keep the balance and understand what’s going on there and decide what direction you’re going to go once you do that.”
So, about the 2017 class…
Campbell declared this “one of the strongest, deepest classes on the defensive side of the ball that I’ve seen. I’ve told the guys upstairs I’m excited because we’re going to get better.” The cornerback and safety classes are widely considered among the best groups in some time. Pass rusher and inside linebacker are possibilities with the 17th overall pick. The Redskins, according to most observers, need defensive line most of all. They probably must wait until Day 2 for help based on likely options.