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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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Jay Gruden wants DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon back, but 'won't blink' if they're gone

Jay Gruden wants DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon back, but 'won't blink' if they're gone

The Redskins face the very real prospect of losing receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon via free agency. Head coach Jay Gruden wants both players back, but is prepared to roll with the guys on the team if Jackson and Garçon depart. 

"Obviously DeSean and Pierre had great years. 1,000 yards each. Those are going to be hard to replace," Gruden said to reporters in Indianapolis. 

It's still possible the Redskins keep both Jackson and Garçon, or keep one of the two, just as both players could leave the organization. In his comments, it seemed like Gruden does not expect one or both guys to be back, and that the team will move on without them. That could mean losing Jackson's 1,005 receiving yards or Garçon's 1,041. 

"Coach the guys that we have. Free agency you’re never going to be able to sign everybody you want as a coach," he said. "I’d like to have Alshon Jeffery, Pierre and DeSean. Heck, give them all to me. I know that's not going to happen."

Gruden tends to joke often speaking with the media, and clearly the prospect of signing Jeffery, a star wideout for the Bears that will hit free agency next week, along with Jackson and Garçon isn't going to happen. The receiver market in free agency will be interesting to watch, as a number of top options will be available. Jeffery, Jackson, Garçon along with Cleveland's Terrelle Pryor and younger prospects like Kenny Stills and Kenny Britt. 

Asked if it was "necessary" to bring at least one of Garçon or Jackson back, Gruden bristled. 

"Would never say necessary. I’d love to have them both back, I'd love to have one back. If we are unfortunate enough to lose them both, I'm not gonna blink."

The coach explained the team has a good crop of young pass catchers already on the roster. 

"I do feel very good about Jamison Crowder, Ryan Grant, Josh Doctson. I love the fact that Mo Harris got a lot of work in, he’s gonna develop."

The coach should feel good about the young receivers, their development is part of his job. Crowder looks like a future star in the slot. Still, Jackson and Garçon accounted for more than 40 percent of Kirk Cousins' passing yards in 2016. That's a lot of yardage to lose. 

Of course, Doctson's development will be a major theme this offseason. A first-round pick in 2016, the Redskins got next to nothing from him as a rookie as he dealt with an Achilles injury. A healthy 6-foot-2 Doctson could offset some of the lost productivity that would come with the departure of Jackson or Garçon.

And then there is always free agency. It's entirely possible Washington could sign another, perhaps cheaper, wideout on the marketplace should they lose two the same way. Gruden said the team has 'other free agents' the team could pursue.

"We have Plan B's and Plan C's ready to go," Gruden said. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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The Redskins aren't willing to trade Kirk Cousins unless they are

The Redskins aren't willing to trade Kirk Cousins unless they are

Shortly after Kirk Cousins got the exclusive franchise tag from the Redskins on Saturday, two sort of conflicting reports. One, from Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, was that Cousins “is not going anywhere” and a trade is essentially off the table. Mike Florio of Pro Football talk, quoting “a source familiar with the dynamics of the situation” reported that the Redskins would have to be “blown away” by a trade offer in order to pull the trigger on a deal.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 4.0

On the face of it, the reports conflict. One says that Cousins is available, the other says that he isn’t. But that valuation of them assumes the sources for these reports were intent on putting out the truth. The fact is that Cousins is very much available for the right offer.

A conversation along the lines of this one could well take place in Indianapolis this week:

“How much do you want for your house?”

“It’s not for sale.”

“No, really, how much do you want.”

“Really, it’s not for sale.”

“I’ll give you $50,000 over whatever it gets appraised for.”

“Sold!”

In short, you don’t need to have a “for sale” sign up in front of something to sell it. In fact, sometimes it’s better to act as though you have no intention of selling whatever it is. That can intrigue potential buyers even more.

The analogy falters a bit as it seems that the Redskins are unlikely to get a premium over whatever Cousins’ valuation on the open market might be. The receiving team will have to give the QB a massive contract. In addition, a team that wants Cousins is likely to be able to get him with no compensation in a year, when Cousins is likely to be an unfettered free agent. But you get the idea.

More Redskins: What happens next with Cousins?

The message from the Redskins is, don’t come at us with a couple of mid rounders. There is some point where the compensation for giving up Cousins a year earlier than they might have to isn’t enough. It literally would be better to rent Cousins for one more season than get, say, a third-round pick with a 2018 fifth thrown in.

That being said, they are not going to get the RG3 type haul—three firsts and a second—in exchange for Cousins. The likely would accept something south of that in exchange for Cousins’ rights.

So, he’s not available at any price—unless the price is right.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.