December 15, 2017

Washington Redskins: A look back at how Scot McCloughan’s rookie class performed

Washington Redskins rookie General Manager Scot McCloughan has a great talent of recognizing potential in players, especially rookies. With ten picks in his first draft as a part of the Burgundy and Gold, lets look back on the immediate payout D.C. got.

Starting from the bottom to the top, the Redskins never saw CB Tevin Mitchel, WR Evan Spencer, or C Austin Reiter take part as a member of the active roster once the regular season began.

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Washington Redskins: 2015 Training Camp Day 5 Observations

With tomorrow being the first off day in the training camp schedule, it made sense that the coaches pushed their players to the limit in order to whip them into shape as the season fast approaches. Although we have seen the players in pads as early as Saturday, today the roster was technically practicing in full pads.

DeSean Jackson took questions from the media and made it clear he is willing to make the commitment to turn this football team around. The elite deep threat was criticized earlier in the off season for skipping out on voluntary OTAs and taking time to film a BET reality television show. Jackson responded by stating “I’m here now, I’m ready to work and focus on the season”. As an injury update of what was reported to be a dislocated finger for Jackson, the wide receiver said “just popped it back in place. I’ll be alright” with little concern of missing any prolonged practice time.

Jackson also provided his own perspective on the talent of some of his teammates. First of his quarterback, Robert Griffin III, Jackson said “I’ve definitely seen progression” and that the more practice reps they can get together, the better. The former Eagle also noted that rookie Jamison Crowder was thrown into the fire a bit but has actually come out with some “great results”. Jackson also complimented his counterpart across the field in CB Chris Culliver by ranking him as a “great cover corner in this league”.

The subject of Griffin’s performance returned to the mainstay of today’s press conference with Jay Gruden. The head coach said, “He’s been doing fine…Overall, I think he’s handled everything extremely well.” Moving onto one of Griffin’s weapons, Gruden has extremely high praise for WR DeSean Jackson. “DeSean has been great since we got him here and …when the balls come to him, make the play like he always does” on having to share the ball especially when Jackson is double covered. Gruden also had kind words for the oft-injured but explosive TE Jordan Reed. Beyond Reed’s normal ability to be a dynamic option in the passing game, Gruden said he has most noticed his improvement in pass protection and the running game in part due to his improved strength and technique.

To continue the beat, Gruden was also complementary of both Morgan Moses and Josh LeRibeus in their performances with the first team offense yesterday, in place of LT Trent Williams and C Kory Lichtensteiger who were given the day off. It would be hard to see Moses getting any significant playing time at tackle in the future, assuming Trent Williams’ contract is extended. The guard position for Moses and the center position for LeRibeus are both adjustments that would take time beyond this season to become starting options.

Practice Notes and Evaluations

  • Rookie CB Tevin Mitchel, who was expected to make the 53 man roster, will have surgery on his left labrum (he had surgery on his right in college) and will likely miss the entirety of his first year.
  • Rookie RB Matt Jones, who did not finish yesterday’s practice with a right knee injury, did not participate today but is listed as day to day. The hope is that the rookie bruiser will be back in full participation on Wednesday after tomorrow’s day off.
  • CB David Amerson did a nice job covering DeSean Jackson on a deep ball that traveled 50+ yards in the air. Unfortunately, the ball hawk corner fell to the ground and looked to have injured his shoulder and would leave practice. The Redskins have already lost Baushad Breeland to a 4-6 week MCL injury and 1 game suspension as well as Tevin Mitchel for the season. Beyond Chris Culliver and DeAngelo Hall, it is the likes of Justin Rodgers and Kyshoen Jarrett (who would have to convert from safety) to step up during training camp and possibly beyond. UPDATE: Amerson suffered an ac joint sprain and could be back at practice Wednesday if the swelling comes down.
  • OLB Junior Galette continues to work on side fields with trainers to continue practicing an ever evolving craft of pass rushing. Gruden noted that Galette was going to be held out a few more days meaning he could miss out on some if not all of the joint practices with the Houston Texans, which takes place Thursday through Saturday (8/6-8). You can see a clip of what Galette has been up to the past few days below.
  • After second round pick Preston Smith struggled yesterday, the pass rusher responded with a better output today. Smith used both power and quickness on two separate occasions to make T Takoby Cofield look like a rag doll. The Ole Miss product also had his moments as a run stopper, making life difficult for Silas Redd who saw time with the second unit as Jones was sidelined.
  • The battle for a third string running back will be an interesting battle to keep track of throughout training camp. Silas Redd has the most recent experience in the offense but does not necessarily excel in one particular area. Chris Thompson, though speedy, has failed to shake the injury bug in the past and has pass protection to work on after Keenan Robinson made him look bad in his opportunity with the first unit. Dark horse Trey Williams has track level speed but at 5-7/195, there is a big question of whether his body could take a continuous beating.
  • Arguably the most impressive performance of Griffin since his rookie year came today. Yes it is simply training camp, yes he cannot be roughed up, but his quick decision making ability in the two minute drill can translate to the regular season. Griffin was 8/8 and sharply finished the drive for a touchdown while diversifying his receiving targets.

Gruden noted that the off day should be used for a reboot for both the coaches and players, to simply get away from the game a bit.

For more updates about Redskins training camp come back and visit District Sports Page.

Important Dates:

  • Training camps is officially ongoing and will last until Sunday, August 16th. See a full schedule of the Redskins training camp practices here.
  • Travel to Cleveland for first preseason matchup against the Browns on Thursday, August 13 (at 8 PM) in 10 days.
  • Season and home opener against Miami Dolphins on Sunday, September 13 in 41 days.

Washington Redskins: 2015 Training Camp Day 4 Observations

On the fourth day of training camp it was much of the same for the team as they went through a relaxed morning walk through before another full padded practice in sweltering 90 degree heat though cloud cover helped. The Redskins are fast approaching there three day joint practice with the Houston Texans on Friday, August 7th that will prepare them for their first preseason action on Thursday, August 13th against the Cleveland Browns.

Free agent pickup Chris Culliver spoke to the media about his evolving role as a Washington Redskin and the new defensive culture the team is trying to create. Culliver optimistically stated that “overall the defense is coming along good”. The ex-49er also mentioned that DeAngelo Hall is looking good on the field and they are building chemistry together by giving one another pointers. When asked point-blank why Scot McCloughan decided to give him a chance with his own off the field issues, Culliver mentioned that the Redskins GM trusted him. That same might be said for the case of Junior Galette. A big grin grew on Culliver’s face when the possibility of a dominant pass rush was brought up, he clearly feels the same way when sincerely stating that “the talent here is special”. In a secondary that could see three new faces getting significant playing time, it is good to see Culliver already reiterating that they are all here to get better together.

When GM McCloughan came to talked to the media, he was bombarded by questions about the Redskins group decision to sign Junior Galette. McCloughan, President Bruce Allen, and head coach Jay Gruden all met with Galette for “hours” as they did “thorough, thorough research…talked to over 20 people” that began as soon as they heard the OLB may be released. McCloughan made sure he knew Galette as a person and saw that he was honestly sincere. The head personnel man also went into that the Redskins figured out the truth and that what the media has reported is not always that. McCloughan did acknowledge the chance that Galette will be suspended by the league offense but put his foot down by saying “I will not bring a bad guy in here”. The latter events of Galette’s stay in Richmond culminated with emotions being let out through tears, which McCloughan described as how badly he wanted to be a Redskin.

McCloughan said he would not address Bashaud Breeland’s suspension incident because it was something that he was not on staff for, but did talk positively of the second year corner as well. “He has a chance to be a really good player” which McCloughan seemed to insinuate as all-pro if not better caliber.

After answering “non-football” related questions that irritated McCloughan, the general manager was able to shed some light on the current season at hand. First, McCloughan vehemently explained that they hope Alfred Morris is a career Redskin despite all of the hype of using a third round pick on rookie RB Matt Jones. Gruden also spoke highly of starting running back Alfred Morris who he says has improved his receiving out of the backfield and is one of the few in the league who does not complain about getting the ball. That and his previous three year track record with the Redskins compelled Gruden to agree with what McCloughan stated just minutes before that they want Alfred to be here “for a while”.

When asked about how many wins would define a successful season in his mind, McCloughan smartly avoided setting a standard quantitatively. However, McCloughan did optimistically imply that the Redskins will no longer be the laughing stock of the NFC East because “when you play the Redskins this year you are going to feel it”. Gruden also ended his press conference by saying, we are “building a team such that they [opponents] have to worry about us more than we have to worry about them”.

As expected, McCloughan stated that although he has final say on all transactions including the cuts to get the team to the needed 53 man roster, everyone is involved from the coaching staff to his own personnel team.

Gruden brought up a few surprises went asked if any rookies will not get playing time because of their lack of experience, which he instantly refuted. As expected first round pick Brandon Scherff will receive any and all playing time as the 5th overall pick. However, Gruden also brought up fourth round pick Arie Kouandjio as possibly pushing veteran Shaun Lauvao for playing time at left guard. Gruden also discussed fellow fourth rounder WR Jamison Crowder and sixth rounder S Kyshoen Jarrett as possibly earning additional practice/playing time with the first team.

Practice Notes and Evaluations

  • Tevin Mitchel (right shoulder) will receive further tests, Jeron Johnson (tweaked hamstring) is going to try and give it a go, and Willie Smith (achilles) will be out 2-3 days.
  • Like DeAngelo Hall yesterday, veteran left tackle Trent Williams, center Kory Lichtensteiger, linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, defensive end Jason Hatcher, and safety DaShon Goldson received scheduled days off.
  • RB Matt Jones was sidelined for part of practice to ice his leg while standing and watching. He later walked with trainers back to the facilities with a wrap on his right knee.
  • WR DeSean Jackson did not practice today because of an injured finger that is believed to be dislocated though still being evaluated.
  • Newly signed OLB Junior Galette continues to work on a side field to enhance his own personal craft (hand placement) before joining the team practices. We could see Galette practice with the team as early as Wednesday.
  • With Williams and Lichtensteiger sitting out, Morgan Moses and Josh LeRibeus both got the nod to work with the starting unit today.
  • Colt McCoy saw opportunities with the second team unit today and looked better than previous lesser outings.
  • Preston Smith struggled against both Moses as well as third string tackle Takoby Cofield in one-on-one passing drills.
  • Robert Griffin III continues to be fairly sharp during training camp and had looked to improve his deep ball, which was a let down last year for the team whether it be under or overthrown balls. In one particular play today he hit Ryan Grant 40 yards down the field in stride does the sidelines.

For more updates about Redskins training camp come back and visit District Sports Page.

Important Dates:

  • Training camps is officially ongoing and will last until Sunday, August 16th. See a full schedule of the Redskins training camp practices here.
  • Travel to Cleveland for first preseason matchup against the Browns on Thursday, August 13 (at 8 PM) in 11 days.
  • Season and home opener against Miami Dolphins on Sunday, September 13 in 42 days.

Washington Redskins: 2015 Training Camp Day 3 Observations

After yesterday was headlined by the signing of ex-Saint OLB Junior Galette and the suspension and later MCL injury of CB Baushad Breeland, today was highlighted by the first padded practice of the 2015 season.

In a post-walkthrough press conference, Brandon Scherff started out by continuing the complimentary remarks towards offensive line coach Bill Callahan describing him as a grinder. After the Redskins made a smart financial move in cutting RG Chris Chester, they are looking to fill the role through a variety of candidates including last year’s third rounder Spencer Long and this year’s fourth rounder Arie Kouandjio. Scherff remarked that he would be “pretty comfortable” if he were asked to take on the guard position. However, that would leave a void at right tackle that would otherwise have to be filled by veteran Tom Compton or last years third round pick Morgan Moses. Scherff has been taking a majority of his reps at right tackle where head coach Jay Gruden says Ryan Kerrigan is “showing him the ropes” across the line. Gruden also hinted that as expected Scherff will be the Week 1 starter when referencing that he will have Dolphins pass rusher Cameron Wake to handle.

Later in a pre-practice press conference, Jay Gruden confirmed the reports of a MCL injury to Breeland and that being sidelined 4-6 weeks is close to a best case scenario after the scary scene at yesterday’s practice. Week 2, the first game Breeland is eligible is seven weeks away from tomorrow. Breeland would later take to Twitter to apologize for a mistake he made last year as a “boy” and will continue to grind to help his team as a “man” that he grown into. The Redskins made a move to sign CB Deshazor Everett to the current 90 man roster, a possible reactionary move to having one less corner in training camp. Gruden would also remark that Justin Rogers and rookies Tevin Mitchel and S Kyshoen Jarrett will get reps in the slot at CB. During practice Rogers took snaps in the slot with the first unit tandem of David Amerson and Chris Culliver. DeAngelo Hall had a scheduled day off and Tevin Mitchel was sidelined with a sore right shoulder. Although the Redskins have significantly upgraded their talent in the secondary, the new personnel is leading to some miscommunication problems that will have to be worked out before the Dolphins visit FedEx Field in over a month.

Gruden mentioned that pass rusher Galette is still a couple of days from practicing with the team while he becomes settled in the new environment. For the second straight day, Galette worked off to the side. Today Galette was working on hand techniques with GrandMaster Joe Kim, a black belt in Taekwondo. Childhood buddies of Chris Baker and Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton have seen to taken the troubled OLB under their wing as the newest addition to their pass rushing unit of “Capital Punishment”.

Practice Notes and Evaluations

  • Redskins running back unit worked on ball security and blocking for much of their individual sets prior to scrimmages.
  • Andre Roberts, Ryan Grant, and Kory Lichtensteiger were a few notable players who were putting in extra work in after practice.
  • In our first look at Robert Griffin III in pads, he was again accurate in one on one drills where he rewarded his receivers for running crisp routes and breaking away from coverage. Griffin also had a nice play to turn a play where he was pressured into a positive dump off. Although they may be baby steps, the improvement is clear.
  • Probably the most excited Redskins player about being in full gear is the physical running of Matt Jones. Jones ran hard and on one particular instance pushed the pule ahead for a double digit yardage gain.
  • Those in the punt return rotation to start practice included Andre Roberts, Jamison Crowder, Rashad Ross, and Trey Williams. It is clear that the Redskins want to protect DeSean Jackson from any possible danger although he could be called upon for a big play if the game were to require it.
  • Jamison Crowder has previously stated that his game is quickness and not as much speed. Regardless he is one of the, if not the, fastest player on the field. Today he was utilized on an end around carry that picked up a good chuck of yards before he was even touched.

For more updates about Redskins training camp come back and visit District Sports Page.

Important Dates:

  • Training camps is officially ongoing and will last until Sunday, August 16th. See a full schedule of the Redskins training camp practices here.
  • Travel to Cleveland for first preseason matchup against the Browns on Thursday, August 13 in 12 days.
  • Season and home opener against Miami Dolphins on Sunday, September 13 in 43 days.

Washington Redskins Activity on Day 3 of NFL Draft

The Washington Redskins drafted three players in the first two days of the NFL Draft: OT Brandon Scherff, OLB/DE Preston Smith, and RB Matt Jones. Scheduled to have a league high seven picks on the last day of the draft, the Redskins got things started off early.

With the sixth pick in the fourth round (105th overall) the Redskins selected WR Jamison Crowder of Duke. Crowder is a smaller receiver, standing at just 5-foot-8 and 185 pounds. He will primarily be a factor in the return game and could fight for a position as a slot receiver. Gruden mentioned that he could envision Crowder as the Redskins returner Week 1 as he is a natural punt returner, but will have to be evaluated on kickoffs.

Crowder had a solid senior season as a Blue Devil with 85 receptions for 1044 yards. Crowder’s playmaking ability is something that got Head Coach Jay Gruden excited. Scot McCloughan went against his usual motto of selecting big physical individuals and also had Crowder rated higher than a similar player from the local area in Stefon Diggs of Maryland. The most noticeable name who Crowder might push to the brink of playing time is the free agency disappointment from last year, Andre Roberts. It is also currently believed that Crowder does not necessarily take Santana Moss’s roster spot.

With the 13th pick in the fourth round (112th overall), a pick obtained through yesterday’s trade with the Seattle Seahawks, the Redskins drafted G Arie Kouandjio out of the Alabama powerhouse. Kouandjio is another big guy 6-foot-5 and 315 pounds, but was only projected to be fifth/sixth round pick. Kouandjio is not the most athletic or versatile player. Offensive line coach Bill Callahan will have his work cut out for him the raw talent, but there should be some intense battle at right guard between Chris Chester, Morgan Moses, Spencer Long and now Kouandjio.

With the 5th pick in the fifth round (141st overall), the Redskins selected LB Martrell Spaight out of the University of Arkansas. Although he may have poor measurables and stands at just 6′ tall and 236 pounds, Spaight is an attacking playmaker and has the potential to help out on a much maligned special teams. Spaight played “Will” Linebacker in his most recent season and recorded a team high 128 tackles. Spaight will likely take a back seat to the likes of Keenan Robinson and Perry Riley.

Instead of making a selection at the 167th overall pick, the Redskins traded that pick to the New Orleans Saints in return for the 187th overall pick and the Saint’s sixth round pick in 2016.

The Redskins picked up defensive backs in back to back picks in the sixth round first grabbing SS Kyshoen Jarrett out of Virginia Tech and then going back to the University of Arkansas for CB Tevin Mitchel. Jarrett stands at just 5′ 10” and 200 pounds but has a nose for the football and physical play especially close to the line of scrimmage. Although he will be a liability of coverage, he can be developed into a better player and can contribute on special teams immediately. Mitchel is 6′ but only 183 pounds; he is athletic with solid coverage skills because of his ability to change directions fluidly. Injuries have plagued him in the past but this might be one of McCloughans sleepers to keep an eye out for for seasons to come. Jarrett and Mitchel might not push the current secondary members of Baushad Breeland, DeAngelo Hall, David Amerson, DaShon Goldson, or Jeron Johnson for playing time but could be developed into long term options to take over for Hall or Goldson.

Shortly after looking for defensive back gems, McCloughan and company looked at the counterpart of the position by drafting WR Evan Spencer out of the Ohio State University. Spencer has a big receivers body at 6′ 2” and 208 pounds, but was often overshadowed by Devin Smith and the power scheme he played in at Ohio St. Spencer’s brother, Cole, is a scout for the Redskins and was allowed to make the call of selectionto his brother. Spencer’s best traits include his willingness to block on the edge as well as his quick looks for the ball after coming out of breaks. Spencer has the potential to push Ryan Grant for a roster spot as no one is safe with a new general manager in town.

With most likely the last draft pick for the Washington Redskins in 2015, the team selected C Austin Reiter out of USF who stands at 6′ 3” and 296 pounds. Reiter was named to the Rimington Award Watch List, which goes to the most outstanding center, to start the college football season. Reiter is another big body that is not currently ready for playing time, but has a chance to develop through the coaching of Bill Callahan into a solid player down the line. Gruden stated that you can never have too many big guys who can move the pile.

Gruden said they considered taking more defensive linemen but thought they already had good players and addressed other needs in free agency. Although McCloughan was the lead dog in the draft process, Gruden expressed how everyone had input as everyone was fired up. Gruden also detailed how McCloughan easily adjusted to things on the fly. Gruden also acknowledged that the Redskins were drafting good people when asked about avoiding players with arrests and/or suspension. Such would explain the passing of names like Shane Ray, Dorial Green-Beckham, Randy Gregory, and La’el Collins to name a few.

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