The Redskins opened the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis with vice president of player personnel Kyle Smith addressing the media for the first time since he was promoted to the position in January. Here are five takeaways from Tuesday's introductory press conference:
1. The core of players has been set.
It's been more than two weeks since head coach Ron Rivera and the rest of the Redskins organization began evaluating the team and "setting the core" of players for the franchise to build around moving forward. Rivera listed some possible candidates when he sat down with Voice of the Redskins Larry Michael and staff writer Kyle Stackpole ahead of Super Bowl LIV, but nothing had been decided at that point.
Fifteen days later, Smith confirmed that stage of the process is now complete.
"We've set our core," Smith said. "We've...identified who our core players are and what positions we're going to be attacking in the offseason, whether it be free agency or the draft."
Smith's priority was to evaluate the players on their team first. Considering the team is going through changes on offense and defense, making sure players on the current roster fit the new schemes was an important part of their evaluation.
The Redskins are a young team, but they aren't short on talent with players like Terry McLaurin, Dwayne Haskins, Cole Holcomb and Montez Sweat. Smith didn't name any specific players who are a part of that core, but given how productive last year's rookie class was in 2019, it's fair to assume many of them are a part of the Redskins' plans.
"Now, we're just finding out...what guys fit, what guys we might have to find another roll for," Smith said.
2. Smith has done his homework on Chase Young.
Nearly every draft expert is predicting the Redskins to draft Ohio State defensive end Chase Young. Bringing in another pass rusher is not necessarily considered a need for the team, as it has addressed the defensive front with first-round picks in each of the past three drafts, but some believe he could be better than the Bosa brothers and is simply too good of a prospect to pass on this year.
Smith didn't say too much on Young, but "everything" about the Buckeye sticks out to him as a prospect.
"He's got measurables, he's got production, plays hard," Smith said. "Those are all good qualities to have as a pass rusher."
Smith has done what he calls "school calls" on Young and many of the other prospects the Redskins are looking to pick in this year's draft. He has seen him in person, watched film from this past season and talked to his coaches. He's committed time to study Young's background, and he has heard plenty of good things.
Still, Smith was quick to point out that Young is only part of the process when it comes to evaluating this year's draft class.
"It's a good draft," Smith said. "There's a lot of players that'll be in consideration."
The Redskins will have almost every player available to them with the No. 2 overall pick. Drafting Young, who went to high school at DeMatha in Maryland, would certainly bolster the team's pass rush and defense.
3. Dwayne Haskins has "got a bright future."
When Rivera laid out a handful of players who could be a part of the Redskins' core, he mentioned Haskins as a candidate. Although he has not named Haskins as the starter for the 2020 season, Rivera liked the way he progressed in his rookie season and believes there are signs the young quarterback is growing into a quality NFL player.
Rivera said Haskins' process begins in the offseason. His work, according to Smith, is going along just fine.
"He's ready to do everything he possibly can," Smith said. "He's doing all the extra stuff we've asked of him, and he's got a bright future."
Haskins played sporadically throughout his rookie season, but as Smith pointed out, he played better in each game. In his last six quarters, Haskins threw for 394 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions before a sprained ankle kept him out of the season finale against the Dallas Cowboys.
Smith said Haskins is still working towards being the team's starting quarterback in Year 2. He said Haskins plans on working with the Redskins' receivers in Florida for offseason workouts. All that has Smith excited about what Haskins can do.
"All he needs is time," Smith said.
4. The Redskins want to be aggressive with roster additions.
With the core of players now set, Smith and the Redskins will begin looking at moves they can make to improve their roster through the draft or free agency.
Smith said the team wants to be aggressive in their decisions.
"We'll always be aggressive to add to our roster and upgrade our roster when we can," Smith said.
Smith said he and Rivera are making a collaborative effort towards improving the roster. Not much has changed in terms of meeting to discuss their draft process, but Smith did say they are switching to a color-coded system to evaluate players so everyone is "speaking the same language."
Smith "loves" how things are going between him and Rivera, and the decisions on which players they want to target is up to them.
"Coach [Rivera] and I will sit down at the end of the day when it comes to free agents that we're signing, guys that we're gonna draft, and we'll make that decision together."
5. He has high expectations for Derrius Guice and Terry McLaurin.
The Redskins drafted Haskins to be the quarterback of the future, but McLaurin and Derrius Guice are two other players Smith is excited about heading into the 2020 season.
Guice has seen limited action on the field when he was drafted in 2018. He missed all his rookie season with a torn ACL, and then he missed most of the 2019 season with a torn meniscus and sprained MCL. However, Smith believes Guice can do it all when healthy, and even named him as a player who could have a similar role as Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, who offensive coordinator Scott Turner worked with last season.
Guice had 245 rushing yards in five games last season, but he showed his explosiveness in spurts, including a 60-yard run against the Panthers. He also averaged 5.8 yards per carry, and Pro Football Focus ranked him as the most elusive running back in 2019 when healthy.
McLaurin was a more consistent staple of the Redskins offense since the season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. He was one of the most successful rookie receivers last season and put up some of the best stats for a first-year player in Redskins history with 58 receptions for 919 yards and seven touchdowns.
Smith said McLaurin "hit the ground running" last year, and that had a lot to do with his character.
"He's a pro," Smith said. "And he's extremely smart."
With Haskins, Guice and McLaurin already established on the Redskins' roster, it looks like Smith believes the team has a solid foundation to build upon for the future.