Here's five takeaways from Redskins head coach Jay Gruden's Friday, May 1, 2015, press conference following the selection of two picks on Day 2 of the NFL Draft at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.:*
- Preston Smith's versatility is a big reason why the Redskins drafted him in the second-round. **
Gruden and general manager Scot McCloughan both said on multiple occasions during the offseason that they wanted to get bigger, stronger and tougher.
They achieved that with their first-round selection of Brandon Scherff, and did the same with Smith, who checks in at 6-foot-5, 271 pounds.
But while Smith is a big, disruptive presence, he's also pretty versatile too, according to Gruden.
That's why the head coach believes the college defensive end will have a smooth transition to linebacker in the Redskins' 3-4 scheme.
"He's been a nose guard, he's been a five-technique, he's stood up, he can drop in coverage," Gruden said. "You watch him at his pro day and at the combine, you see the athleticism that he has. We feel like he's still a young kid, growing, and there's still a lot we can build upon with his body frame with the way it is. Very long arms, he's an explosive player, and there's a lot of spots he can play."
Gruden did say, though, that Smith could move around some too.
"Well, in base defense, he'll probably start out at outside linebacker," he began. "But there's so much nickel nowadays that he can be a defensive end, he can stand up, he can be a three-technique. There's a lot of different things he can do which makes him appealing to the eye."
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2. Matt Jones brings a different style to the running backs room.
While Alfred Morris can do a little bit of everything and Chris Thompson is a speedster, Jones – who stands at 6-foot-2 and weighs more than 230 pounds – bring a physicality the Redskins can wait to incorporate into their offense.
"We had him in for a visit a couple of weeks ago and we liked his attitude," Gruden said. "We liked what he knew about football and his passion for the game and his running style. He's a little bit different than what we've had around here. He's a downhill, smashmouth type runner."
And while Gruden reiterated the fact that Morris is still the Redskins' top running back, he believes giving Jones the ball will actually help the two-time Pro Bowler in the long run.
"No, no, Alfred won't be affected," Gruden said of the selection of Jones. "Alfred's still the running back here. He's had three great seasons and that won't change, but to add another guy that can come in here and pound the rock a little bit doesn't hurt anything. It'll help Alfred in that regard taking some carries off of him, but for the most part, Alfred will be getting the bulk of the carries and Matt will get some too, obviously."
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3. The addition of Smith won't affect Trent Murphy.
While some have believed that the Redskins acquiring a pass rusher early in this year's draft would have a direct impact on the second-year linebacker, Gruden doesn't see it that way.
Instead, with Murphy showing increased success late last season and now Smith, the two will help the linebacking corps opposite Ryan Kerrigan.
"You know, when you add football players in a draft, our guys are still going to come in here and compete," Gruden said. "Everybody is going to have a chance come in here and compete in training camp and that's the way it's going to be and that's never going to change from year to year."
Gruden said Murphy and Smith are very similar and both are able to be move around, perhaps leaving open the possibility they could be on the field at the same time.
"Trent has put on some weight, he might be able to play some defensive end also in base," he said. "Both those guys will play a lot of football, I promise you that."
4. The Redskins believe Jones can contribute to the passing game, a position they were looking to fill in the backfield after Roy Helu Jr. left for the Oakland Raiders.
While Jones recorded just 19 receptions during his career at Florida – including a career-high 11 last season – the Redskins think Jones can be a factor in the passing game.
"He wasn't asked to catch a lot, but we've watched him," Gruden said. "You know, his workouts, he's caught the ball fine. And Randy did a lot of work on him, Jordan, our running back coach, feels like he catches the ball fine."
Gruden also called Jones a "good all-around player" that can play in multiple situations.
"I think he'd be a good core special team player too, the toughness that he has and the way he plays, there's a chance he could play special teams too," he said. "But, we'll get him in here, find out what he can do well and try to use it to our advantage."
5. It was important to add picks in this year's draft after going 7-25 the last two seasons.
The Redskins made some noise early in the third round, as it was announce that they had traded the No. 69 pick to the Seattle Seahawks in return for the 95th-, 112th-, 167th- and 181st-overall picks.
Check out these exclusive photos of the Washington Redskins' draft room during Day 2 of the 2015 NFL Draft at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.
That means the Redskins now have two picks in rounds four, five and six, and come into today with seven picks overall.
Gruden said one of the key decisions behind the decision to pull the trigger on this trade was that the team sees "a lot of merit in the later rounds of this draft."
"There are a lot of good football players to be had," he said. "We've just got to do our work and make sure we take some good players. Like I said, the depth of this draft we feel like is pretty good and get a good guy in the fifth, sixth, seventh round, a couple of them that can help your football team. They don't have to be immediate starters. They can add to your depth. They can help special teams. But I think there is good quality there in the later rounds and to have a couple more is good."
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