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Need to Know: What Redskins' GM McCloughan is looking for in the players he drafts

Need to Know: What Redskins' GM McCloughan is looking for in the players he drafts

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, April 13, 15 days before the NFL Draft.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 94 days ago. It will be about 151 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 5; 2016 NFL draft 15; Redskins training camp starts 106

Hot topic

In an interview with Bleacher Reports, Scot McCloughan described the player he’s like to take with the 21st overall pick when the draft gets underway two weeks from tomorrow.

“Toughness, smarts, competitiveness, team.”

In theory, this should make it easy to figure out who McCloughan has his sights set on. That combination of characteristics is not necessarily shared by a whole lot of players who have the talent to be considered in the first round.

It’s probably easy to eliminate some players. There are plenty of players, particularly defensive linemen, who get knocked in scouting reports for taking plays off, which would bring into question their toughness, competitiveness, and dedication to the team. One player linked to the Redskins in some mock drafts, Ole Miss DL Robert Nkemdiche, admitted to the media that he didn’t always give every play his best effort. He could well be off the Redskins’ board.

But beyond the obvious it’s pretty hard to know just who has the traits that McCloughan is looking for. Although all other things being equal he would prefer to draft a bigger player, his desire to have players with strong character will trump size. In the interview he talked about drafting 5-8 WR Jamison Crowder last year.

“You talk to him and you realize, it’s not going to be too big for him,” he said. “He’s going to come in from Day 1 and be a pro. He’s high character, competitive, tough – the tape showed that – and he has the passion to be a good player.”

So the key characteristics that McCloughan lists are not just for players in the first round. They apply throughout the draft.

The thing is, anyone can pull up some tape on the web and “scout” the player’s performances. The Mel Kipers and Mike Mayocks of the world can get more film, coaches' film, and talk to executives and scouts to get some more insight. Jon Gruden and a few others get one-on-one talks with the draft prospects.

But only McCloughan can get the job interviews with the players, asking the questions that he wants answered. Only he knows what he is looking for in the answers. He also knows what answers he is looking for when he and the Redskins' scouts get when they talk to a player's college coaches.

The rest of us can conduct mock drafts all day and try to figure out where he will go. But the recipe is a secret and good luck to all of us who might try to figure it out.

Stat of the day

When Redskins Hall of Fame WR Art Monk retired following the 1995 season he was the NFL record holder for both career receptions (940) and receptions in a single seasons (106 in 1984).

In case you missed it

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Oddsmakers give Kirk Cousins favorable shot at 2017 NFL MVP

Oddsmakers give Kirk Cousins favorable shot at 2017 NFL MVP

There continues to be a (ridiculous) debate on whether or not Kirk Cousins can continue to be a successful starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins.

In the betting industry, there is not much debate with Cousins being listed with 50/1 odds to win the NFL MVP award this upcoming season from Bovada. Among all the other players listed, he is in a tie for 14th. 

He is coming off back-to-back seasons with seven 300 yard passing games, a team record, and has an abundance of fresh, young wide receivers to compliment his passing style. Last year he was third in the league in passing yards with 4,917, trailing only Drew Brees (5,208) and Matt Ryan (4,944). 

The team may not be poised for a Super Bowl run in 2017-18, but if the team makes a post-season run, who will it be on the back of? Jordan Reed? Rob Kelley? Ryan Kerrigan?

No, it will be Kirk Cousins. 

RELATED: Ex-GM outlines staggering contract for Kirk Cousins

Entering this season at 40-years-old, and defending Super Bowl MVP, Tom Brady is the overall favorite at 4/1. He is closely followed by Aaron Rodgers, and young quarterbacks Derek Carr and Dak Prescott. 

BOVADA 2017-18 NFL MVP ODDS:

Tom Brady, NE — 4/1
Aaron Rodgers, GB — 7/1
Derek Carr, OAK — 9/1
Dak Prescott, DAL — 12/1
Ben Roethlisberger, PIT — 12/1
Russell Wilson, SEA — 12/1
Matt Ryan, ATL — 16/1
Ezekiel Elliott, DAL — 20/1
Drew Brees, NO — 25/1
Andrew Luck, IND — 25/1
Cam Newton, CAR — 25/1
David Johnson, ARI — 33/1
Marcus Mariota, TEN — 33/1
Sam Bradford, MIN — 50/1
Antonio Brown, PIT — 50/1
Kirk Cousins, WAS — 50/1
Julio Jones, ATL — 50/1
Eli Manning, NYG — 50/1
Carson Palmer, ARI — 50/1
Adrian Peterson, NO — 50/1
Philip Rivers, LAC — 50/1
Matt Stafford, DET — 50/1
Odell Beckham Jr., NYG — 66/1
Rob Gronkowski, NE — 66/1
Alex Smith, KC — 66/1
Ryan Tannehill, MIA — 66/1
J.J. Watt, HOU — 66/1
Jameis Winston, TB — 66/1
Blake Bortles, JAX — 100/1
Andy Dalton, CIN — 100/1
Joe Flacco, BAL — 100/1
T.Y. Hilton, IND — 100/1
Marshawn Lynch, OAK — 100/1
LeSean McCoy, BUF — 100/1
Von Miller, DEN — 100/1
DeMarco Murray, TEN — 100/1
Carson Wentz, PHL — 100/1

RELATED: After Derek Carr deal, Cousins' best option may be short-term

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True or False: Rob Kelley will be Redskins leading rusher

True or False: Rob Kelley will be Redskins leading rusher

Robert Kelley emerged as the Redskins top running back in 2016, an incredible story of an undrafted guy working his way to the top. Of course, Matt Jones' problems with fumbling helped push Kelley to the top. 

Redskins coach Jay Gruden speaks highly of Kelley, particularly his fluidity and vision, but the team drafted Samaje Perine in the fourth round this year to provide additional competition in the backfield.

Here's the crucial statement: Rob Kelley will lead the Redskins in rushing yards in 2017.

Finlay: True.

Kelley averaged 4.2 yards-per-carry last season and the Redskins ground game is very much centered on a "4 or more" philosophy. Washington running backs coach Randy Jordan joined the #RedskinsTalk podcast and explained that the team wants a runner it can count on for positive yards more than creating big plays. The Redskins offense, as designed by Gruden, sets up for big plays in the pass game, and the run should allow for proper use of play action. 

In just nine starts last year, Kelley gained more than 700 yards. Project that out over 16 games, and he would be over 1,000 yards rushing. Perine has much to learn about the NFL, and understanding pass protections will take time for the rookie out of Oklahoma. Chris Thompson will be a key part of the offense, but much of his yardage will come via the pass game. 

Kelley will lead this team in rush yards. He's looked great in OTAs and minicamp while the coaching staff believes Kelley is in much better shape this year than he was as a rookie. Write it down in pen. 

RELATED: How will Kelley and Perine share the carries?

Tandler: True.

After the draft and during rookie camp I was saying that there was a chance that Perine could lead the team is rushing this year. But after seeing Perine playing with the big boys in OTAs and minicamp it’s apparent that he has a long way to go to become a consistently productive running back.

One thing Kelley seems to have going in his favor is that he has a very sensible outlook on the NFL. As JP noted, Kelley showed up to Redskins Park in better shape than he did as a rookie. This indicates to me that he understands that being an NFL players is a year-round job. Staying in great shape is important in the league but at running back it’s vital. Kelley gets that and because he does, his chances of being available for 16 games are much higher.

In turn, that improves his chance of being the team’s leading rusher. I’m not sure if he’ll get 1,000 yards—Perine will get things figured out enough to take some carries before the season gets too old—but Gruden will make sure that he gets fed plenty as long as he is available. 

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