Here's five takeaways from Washington Redskins Senior Vice President of Player Personnel Doug Williams' post-draft press conference that took place on April 30, 2018.
1. Williams said the Redskins had inside information about Derrius Guice and weren't concerned with outside reports about his character.
Over the course of Thursday and Friday, running back Derrius Guice kept falling in the draft, a product potentially of some character concerns made by anonymous sources providing disinformation. That was potentially a reason the Redskins were able to grab Guice with the 59th overall pick, and why they feel they got a steal at the position.
Williams said those rumors didn't worry them at all. Williams is from the same area that Guice grew up, in the Baton Rouge, La., area, and said he didn't put any credence on outside noise.
"We do have some inside information and some influences that helped us along the way," Williams said. "And, plus, we had met with the kid, we went to dinner with the kid, we brought the kid up here. Where Guice is from, I'm from the same area basically. I knew Guice. I know who he is. I know where he comes from and when you talk about a kid who has produced on the field the way he has, other than what was out there, and you look at this kid, man, he's just a happy-go [lucky] kid who likes to play football and I think we were fortunate enough to get a guy like that."
Williams admitted that while Guice was available at No. 45, where the Redskins were initially slated to pick, the team decided to trade back with the 49ers in hopes that he might still be available with the 59th pick.
"We took a chance because at that time the running backs were moving pretty good," he said. "We took a chance moving down to 59, but what 59 afforded us was another draft pick in the third round to get another good player and we had some players on the board. Guice wasn't the only guy on the board. We had about six or seven other player's names on this board and usually when you sit there, when you see one go, you pull that one down, the next one goes, you pull him down. It just so happened at 59, Guice and a couple more guys were on the board and we chose Guice out of those guys."
2. The Redskins fielded a few calls in the first round with the opportunity to trade back, but opted to stay put and select Da'Ron Payne.
The big question entering the first round for the Redskins would be whether they traded back with a team desperate to grab a specific player, even a quarterback, as a way to get a third-round pick back. The Saints pulled off a trade with the Packers, slotted right behind the Redskins, so the opportunity was there.
"I'm not going to say exactly who called, but we had about two or three calls," Williams said. "We had to look at it and we talked about the guys. Like I said, we had guys on the board. You tell them we don't know yet. We'd have to see. If we're on the clock, if the guy that we wanted is not there, then you call them back and see if you want to make the deal. But you don't make the deal unless all the guys that you have in front of you are not on the board anymore. So, yeah, we got some calls, but at the same time, fortunately we didn't make them. We got the guy that we wanted."
Williams wouldn't go into detail about which other picks were on the team's board at No. 13, or who they would have drafted had they been available.
"All I can say is we had some names on the board, a lot of names on the board. I'm not going to call their names because they're not here. I do know Payne was on the board. And when we got to that pick, that's who we picked. I think that's the way the draft unfolded."
3. Some of the players drafted on the third day will have a good chance to contribute on special teams and potentially as punt returners.
The Redskins' final two draft picks – Greg Stroman and Trey Quinn – both have some background in returning punts and playing special teams, and as is usually the case with late-round draft picks, they'll both likely make their marks on the kicking and returning units.
Check out these photos of the Washington Redskins Draft Fest Presented By Pepsi on Saturday, April 28, 2018, at FedExField in Landover, Md.
For the last three seasons, wide receiver Jamison Crowder has taken on punt returning duties, but he struggled with fumbles last year and didn't have many explosive plays as a returner. Williams said that he's still the returner, but the additions of Stroman and Quinn certainly help provide a formidable backup opportunity that didn't exist in 2017.
"At this point, Jamison [Crowder] is still our punt returner," Williams said. "But at the same time, if you've got one of those guys that is going to be active on game day, you certainly want to take a load off of Jamison if you can. You don't want to just put a guy back there because he can catch a punt, but you want to get a guy that can do some things with it. If Jamison can just play the slot and play football, I think it would take a lot off him and the other guy could do those jobs if we had to."
4. The addition of offensive tackle Christian Grey adds help to the team's depth and could be someone that develops to take over in the future.
The Redskins didn't fill a need at left guard in the draft, instead opting to take the Louisville offensive tackle with the third round selection they received from the 49ers.
Williams thinks he'll have a great opportunity to develop under offensive line coach Bill Callahan and starters Trent Williams and Morgan Moses.
"I can't say what the guy is going to be, but all we saw is what he has and that's athletic ability," Williams said. "He was able to swing from the right side to the left side. He's got great feet. If there's a knock on the kid – and I think with some of these gurus, they said that he's not strong enough – that's to be debatable. And he's coming here. Fortunately enough, we've got two pretty good tackles. If we can keep those guys healthy, he'll get a chance to develop into a pretty good tackle and learn from one of the best coaches and the players that are going to be in front of him."
That the Redskins took Christian means it's possible that tackle Ty Nsekhe might make the transition to left guard, a position he's played ocassionally when the Redskins have needed him to over the last couple of years.
"If we get to that point that we feel like we're comfortable with moving him and drafting Geron, it's certainly a plus for us, but at the same time, we've got a young tackle," he said. "If you look around this league, one of the most valuable players on the football team is offensive tackles and the rushers on the end and quarterbacks and defensive backs. So we [were] fortunate enough to get Christian, who I think is going to develop into a pretty good football player."
5. The Redskins taking two more Alabama players in this year's draft is just a coincidence.
Williams made clear that the Redskins don't have a propensity for Alabama players so much as they have one for great players that happen to be from Alabama. Indeed, the Crimson Tide has supplanted the NFL with a plethora of talent, and Washington, which has taken four players from there in two year, is no exception.
"It's about good players," Williams said. "One thing we can't deny, Alabama has had some pretty good players over the last few years. If there's a guy that's sitting there that you feel like the best player for your team, whether or not he's from Alabama or Grambling or Southern, you've got to go get that guy. And it just so happened Payne was sitting there, who played on a real good football team over the last few years. So it wasn't about Alabama. It was about the position, the guy there and his ability to play the game the way we want it to be played, and that's why we went there."
Williams didn't exactly say whether there was a common thread between them, but acknowledged that playing together on a prolific team only helps in their ability to feel comfortable with each other at the NFL level.
"All those guys, you think about you've got to really go into the room and listen to the interview and listen to these guys on the board when you put them on the board and you talk about certain things: the defense, how well they prepare," Williams said. "And this game in the National Football League is more of a mental game sometimes than it is a physical game. It's being in the right place at the right time, and these guys know how to do it."