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Need to Know: McCloughan continuing Redskins' emphasis on player development

Need to Know: McCloughan continuing Redskins' emphasis on player development

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, February 8, 10 days before the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL assemble in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine.

Question of the day

We’re changing up the format of Need to Know for the offseason. Every day I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

https://twitter.com/habimaki88/status/563354927167442945

(Note: I’m only going to address the first question here.)

I have read in some places that the draft really is, for the most part, a crap shoot. Teams like the Packers, Seahawks, and Patriots don’t necessarily draft better than other teams, they develop the players they draft better than other teams. There was evidence presented back and forth and the conclusion was that drafting good players isn’t all luck but you can make your own good fortune by developing the players you draft.

In terms of what they said and, to an extent, what they did, the Redskins started to focus on players they could develop when Bruce Allen took over the draft last year.

“What we’re looking for is people who love football and want to play football and want to win with the Washington Redskins,” Allen said at the Redskins’ pre-draft news conference. “Whether it was in free agency or this draft, we’ve done a very good job, we feel, of digging into the heart and soul of the prospects. In free agency we feel good about it, and we’re hoping to add to this team through the draft with some other very hungry football players.”

Scott Campbell went into more detail.

“In terms of trying to find players that are good developmental-type prospects, it’s something Bruce had mentioned before, what he was looking for in a football player – trying to find people that football is very important to them,” said the team’s director of player personnel. “You get that information through research, when you go through the campuses talking to the coaches, the trainers, the strength coaches. You find out what a guy’s work ethic is and how important football is to him. I think if you’ve got those two qualities, you’ve got an excellent chance to be developed. As opposed to a guy that doesn’t love the weight room, is late, doesn’t work, is overweight, never in shape when the season starts – those are flags to you on how important football is to that player.”

They mostly practiced what they preached in the draft. Trent Murphy was regularly one of the first players out on the practice field from training camp on. Bashaud Breeland spent so much time in the film room they sent him an Oscars ballot. Ryan Grant was still working hard late in the season despite the Redskins being long eliminated from the playoffs and the fact that he was getting very limited playing time.

Scot McCloughan, the man who will be running the draft room this time around, alluded to development a few times during his introductory presser last month.

“You know, same thing I’ve already mentioned a couple times, just the passion for the game, the passion to get better, to do the extra,” he said when asked about how some players succeed and some don’t. “There’s a lot of tremendous athletes out there in college football, some of them that are so tremendous that they don’t make it. Well, how come? And I’m lucky enough to be in this business long enough to realize, ‘Well, this is this and this,’ and others ones that weren’t as talented who are still playing after 10-plus years. It’s intelligence, it’s toughness, it’s competitiveness and it’s just the fact to understand this is what I do for a living, I want to be the best.”

So the first step here is getting players who are willing to do what it takes to be developed. It’s a stretch to say that any coach can develop a player who has the desire. But the Redskins players who work hard get the most out of their abilities have been able to do so despite dealing with what some perceive as inferior coaching. Others, perhaps more talented, have not.

It’s good that the Redskins do have an eye towards development. The players they draft won’t necessarily be the best players as rookies. But the hope is that in two years, five years, 10 years, they are still playing while others drafted ahead of them are gone.

The development problem has been recognized and they are consciously trying to do something about it. How it works out remains to be seen.

Timeline

—It’s been 42 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 219 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 30; Redskins offseason workouts start 71; 2015 NFL Draft 82

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Josh Norman didn't stand a chance defending Kyle O’Quinn on this dunk

Josh Norman didn't stand a chance defending Kyle O’Quinn on this dunk

Josh Norman is a man of many talents — at least on the football field, and in the friendliest possible way, he was reminded of that this weekend during a charity basketball game.

Opposite of the defensive nightmare Norman can be for receivers, the New York Knicks' Kyle O’Quinn had a little fun with the Redskins cornerback and the 10-inch height difference they share during the during Bam Bam’s Spring Jam at the Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Virginia.

O'Quinn got the ball and went up for a particularly easy dunk as Norman jumped and tried to swat the ball away but his effort was futile. 

While this was all in good fun, Norman should probably stick to football. 

Former Virginia Tech defenseive back and current Seattle Seahawk Kam Chancellor's foundation is behind the charity game, which also included Redskins' Lynden Trail, Marshawn Lynch, Michael Bennett and Antoine Bethea.  

Related: Kirk Cousins got some tips from an 85-year-old woman

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Memorial Day Reflection: Kirk Cousins appreciates the cost of freedom

Memorial Day Reflection: Kirk Cousins appreciates the cost of freedom

On Memorial Day, people all over the United States stop to reflect on the freedoms provided for by the military. Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins is no different.

"So grateful for living in this country and understanding that that came at a price and I just want to say thank you," Cousins said.

Speaking after an OTA session last week with military members in attendance, Cousins explained that he appreciates the added sense of history and obligation that comes from living in and around D.C.

"It’s a good reminder why it’s such a benefit to play here in Washington. It just feels like it’s that much more real with Andrews Air Force Base here and so many soldiers here. There’s something special about playing for the city of Washington, D.C. and driving 30 minutes into the city and going by the White House and the Pentagon and the monuments."

The Redskins hosted military members from multiple branches at their OTAs, and afterward, Cousins and a number of other players signed autographs. 

"You say ‘Man, I want to give these soldiers, these fans something to cheer about and make them excited and bring this city together.' Hopefully winning football games can do that. What a great thing. That’s the vision we’re chasing," the Redskins passer said. "Hopefully we can get it done this season."

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