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Quotes: Scot McCloughan Pre-Draft Press Conference (04.27.15)

General Manager Scot McCloughan

Opening statement:

"I want to welcome you all here. But first and foremost, I want to put this out there because I know questions are going to be asked – we are going to exercise the option on RGIII [Robert Griffin III], the '016 option. That took place this morning. We talked to Robert, we talked to the agent. They're very positive, very positive feeling in the building right now. So with that said, we'll rock-and-roll."

On arriving at the decision to pick up the fifth-year option for quarterback Robert Griffin III:

"We arrived awhile back. You know, we have until Monday to make the official announcement with the league office. So, we just decided with all you guys being here and the platform today, go ahead and put it out there."

On what went into the decision to pick up the option:

"Well, he's a good football player. He's got good tape out there. Everybody knows what he did in '012, when he was rookie of the year, offensive rookie of the year. This full offseason, second year in the system but being healthy and being able to go through the offseason, I'm really excited looking forward with all three quarterbacks, watching them as Phase 2 gets going on the field and I can start watching them move around and watch them make plays."

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On balancing quality and quantity of players in the draft:

"Yeah, a lot of times if they're calling us to move up to our spot and we're moving back, we have the leverage. So what I can do is, say we're going five spots, say we're going eight spots, say we're going 15 spots, I can look at the board and get an idea who might be there. We'd love to get more picks in this draft. We have our seven originals right now. I'd love to get 10-plus out of this thing. But, if not we'll be okay. If we stay put at [pick No.] 5, we'll get a good football player at 5. You go off the board and get a pretty good idea on what team needs are, what teams are coming for and that stuff. But, the last thing you do is take yourself out of a really good football player. Get too cute with yourself, go back too far, and all the sudden, I have say 10-15 guys I want to pinpoint that I think can come in Day 1 and start, you go too far back and you're going to lose out on some of those guys. You've got to be careful."

On if draft decisions including trades are based on a gut feeling:

"It's gut. They have got a value chart for points. Say if they want to come to No. 5, they owe this, this and this. A lot of its gut, but also we've done a lot of preparation for this. Our board is almost completely set – after the next few afternoons with the coaches then it will be set. But yeah, a lot goes into it. You're just not going to do it to do it. We'll talk scenarios prior to Thursday, Friday and Saturday. People might be calling, sniffing around about the pick."

* *

On how he evaluates the team's needs along the offensive line:

"Again, we're not going to draft for needs. Even with free agency, we didn't go in thinking, 'Okay, we're going to stick it all on defense.' We went in special teams, offense, defense and it just worked out to be defense. We feel we got some good football players not just on the field but off the field, high-character guys that come from winning organizations and know what it looks like. We're going to approach free agency and the draft every year the same, just getting good football players. You always have injuries, trade opportunities and stuff like that, so if you can just keep stockpiling good players, the organization is going in the right direction… It's pretty much with any position, especially offensive line – big guys, intelligent guys, competitive guys. You know, it's about the five guys up front. It's not about the one guy. It's all five guys working together. I think it's a big man's game, and I think size and strength and like I said passion, toughness is very important up front. If you can control the line of scrimmage on either side, it's a pretty good start."

On most talented position group in the draft:

"I really don't want to give that away. Every draft takes on its own characteristics, its own qualities. In every draft, it's going to have its own identity at certain positions, but as with any draft, it's what you do with it. They'll say, 'OK, well, there's more quarterbacks last year compared to this year.' Everybody's board is set differently, but I just know every time we pick, there's going to be somebody on that board that ends up being a good NFL football player at any position."

On desirable qualities in a defensive lineman or outside linebacker:

"As they say, defensive end/outside linebacker in our 3-4 scheme, you look for a pass rusher. That's the most important thing, especially with the Will – the weakside outside linebacker. But again, you want size, you want some length, you want speed, you want toughness, you want strength, you want to be able to not just win with speed and quickness, but also win with power. They're hard to find. We're very lucky to have Ryan [Kerrigan] on the team. He's one of those players and hopefully not just in the first round but throughout this draft we can add a couple more pass rushers."

* *

On the defensive line and if he would hesitate to draft players at a position of strength:

"I would not hesitate because, like I said, we have to add good football players – especially up front on both sides of the ball. But, it might bring a trade more into play if all of the sudden… we do have to pick up our defensive front but also with Terrence [Knighton], he's on a one-year contract, we've got to protect ourselves, and any time when you can get a good defensive lineman in the draft, you need to take him. They're very hard to come by."

On contract negotiations with linebacker Ryan Kerrigan and tackle Trent Williams:

"They're ongoing, but nothing substantial, but there's been discussions. We're not in a hurry, hurry to do it, but we'd like to. We see them as quality Redskin football players, and they're both highly talented. It's a big contract, but discussions are going on. We definitely have been staying in touch with the agents."

On if he will wait until Monday to make Griffin's option official:

"Yeah, we'll do it Monday morning."

On the acquisition of cornerback Chris Culliver:

"We do background checks on everybody. We know the guys coming out. I remember the majority of guys coming out over the last 20 years and the stuff they did or supposedly did and then also what happened, why they are in the league. We do a background check with the league office with every guy before we sign them, and we do our own research. It's very important to me, especially during free agency when we bring in 'considered starters,' or bigger-name guys, veterans that they are good guys because they're going to be the leaders of the young guys that we draft. We did all of our research on Chris Culliver and it came back good – everything, all the research we needed to do. The last thing I want to do is try to embarrass this organization, bringing in these so-called 'bad guys,' I won't do that. If there is any kind of question mark that he might be a bad guy, we're not going to do it."

On what skills he desires in offensive linemen:

"Well, the thing with tackles, especially with left tackles, we know – we're lucky to have Trent here – size, arm length, foot quickness, flexibility in the lower [body], being able to adjust, movement. I think you want your tackles to be your bigger guys – taller and longer. With our guards and with Coach [Bill] Callahan and what our plans are is power. You know, in-line power. We're talking 320-plus [pounds] hopefully, coming off, head-butting and going. We want to be able to run the football, it's very important. It sets up everything else for us. The center, of course, is usually the leader. He needs to be highly intelligent, be able to read the defenses and make the checks he needs to make. But again, at any one of those positions, we want big guys, we want smart guys and we want tough guys. I'll give a little bit on athletic ability – especially inside at guard and center – for just a consistent football player that gets out there every day and you know exactly what you've got."

On how this roster is different from rosters he inherited in previous jobs:

"I don't really want to knock the past rosters, but this one has more talent at certain skill positions than I had in San Francisco. In San Fran, we did have the first pick in the draft and there was a reason for that because we had the worst record the year before. But I would say here just because the skill positions are more talented, but again, we need to add at every spot. We need to add like we did in San Fran, like we did in Seattle – add just quality football players that come in and understand it's not about the individuals in some of the parts on both sides of the ball and special teams. I think it's very important as we draft later on through this draft that special teams comes into play big time – covering kicks and punts, or returning kicks and punts. It's throughout the game and it's very important. I'd love to hit some superstars through this draft and who knows if we will or won't. But I know this, we're going to get good football players that you know what you've got everyday – consistent, competitive tough guys. It's all about the team."

* *

On the process Thursday night:

"All of the work is going to be done by Thursday, Thursday morning. As a matter of fact, if you were able to walk in, you'd probably kind of start laughing because it's just so laid back. The board is set. I don't want confusion. The only time it gets a little anxious is when somebody calls and offers us a pretty dang good trade – or two teams call. That's when things might get a little bit testy at times, but I pride myself and I want that room just to be steady like I do the football players. If things are coming at us, that's fine. If we want to trade back, we trade back. If not, we stay there, we take the best football player available."

On if picking up Griffin's option affects the possibility of drafting a quarterback:

"It does not. It does not affect our draft process whatsoever. Like I said, if we get to the fifth pick and the best player is a quarterback, we're taking the quarterback."

On if he'd be open to carrying four quarterbacks on the roster:

"Oh, yeah. You've got other options too with Kirk[Cousins] and Colt [McCoy]. We like the three we have, but again, we're not going to pass on a good football player. There's no reason to."

On if any of the players drafted after the first round this year are potential impact players:

"Certainly… I can't say that [specifically], but there are. I have a handful all the way through the draft board, all the way down through the seventh round that I feel really good about. I've got a gut that they're going to if not come in and be a starter, they're going to be a quality backup early on with the ability to start down the line. Again, that's when special teams come into play, with the DBs, with the receivers, with the running backs that we take later on, they need to be good core special teams guys."

On how much his history with safety Dashon Goldson played into the decision to trade for him:

"It played a lot into it. You know, I was very lucky to draft him when I was in San Fran and he was a corner coming out of the University of Washington. I got to know him as a person. He's always been a good football player. He's a physical guy. He's a really good leader for the young guys and he's all about football. I really respect that. I was really lucky – like with Jeron Johnson – to have past working knowledge of them as people, workers during the offseason, workers during the season. He's a forceful impact on game day, big time."

On what goes into figuring out which players will continue to develop down the road:

"I'm very lucky to come in here because I didn't know a lot of the personnel staff that was here, college or pro, and they do an excellent job. They're really, really thorough on the background. A lot of stuff on tape, you can see aggressiveness, you can see want-to, you can see consistent play every game if he's busting his tail to get to the ball or running the ball or whatever. But a lot of it, like you said, a lot of people sitting here can watch a game and say 'That's the best player on the team. This guy scores three touchdowns or whatever.' But you've got to get in here and here [pointing to heart and head]. That's what's so hard. When mistakes are made, especially early on, it's because you don't know that well enough. You can't know 100 percent, but with our guys, if I've said it one time I've probably said it 100 times, let's find out what makes him tick. Does he have that 'it' factor? Understand, if we're going to have a two-game losing streak, is he one of the guys that is going to pull us out of it or is he going to stay in it? I want those guys that are all football. They're intelligent, but they're passionate. They want to be successful as a team, not as an individual, but as a team."

On if he has gotten any trade offers for quarterback Kirk Cousins and if he would entertain offers:

"We have not gotten any offers, official offers, no. The thing I like about Kirk, and the same with Colt and with Robert is they're young quarterbacks. You've got to understand that. I know everybody thinks, 'Well they're in the NFL, going into their fourth season.' They're still young, especially in the second year of this new system that they're in. We'll always take phone calls for any of our players and listen to it, and if it's a win-win for the organization, then we'll definitely consider it. But we're not trying to force the hand on anybody right now. This is my first season and first offseason to see them, and like I said, he's a young quarterback. He's had success in college. He's had some success in the NFL and you can't give up on those guys too early."

On if his approach to draft preparation is any different than when he was in San Francisco:

"No, you know, I'm older. Maybe not as smart as I used to be [smiling], but, no, it's the same process. It's long, it's very tedious, but it's very, very thorough, even with the area scouts being here. They know everybody on that draft board, not just their area, but everybody in the country who we have up there. So it's the same. I think it's very important, even with the players on game day and everything, where you're not surprised by anything. You've been there, you've done it and act like that. Like I said, it's a very positive three days for us because we can make the organization stronger, and I want everybody in this building to feel a part of it. From the coaches to the secretaries, to the scouts and players, it's a 'one big family' thing, and once we make a pick, it's ownership by the whole franchise."

On the process of getting everyone on the same page and identifying their type of player:

"The thing that's great about Jay, he's a lifer in football as I have been. It's nice, because even with the whole staff – because a lot of these guys I'm new to, too – not just the head coach, they understand my philosophy but they also understand it's all of us together to try to kind of find that player. It's not going to be me making the pick Thursday. It's going to be us as a group because we've already met a lot. Any time we have any kind of 'Jay thinks he's here, I think he's there,' we'll watch more tape and we'll talk it through. We'll get the area scouts involved, get the background,  why we think this and that, because when it's all said and done, I have to make the final pick but they're the ones coaching them. I have to understand, 'OK, listen, so we're going with the receiver. We're going X, we're going to go Z. Where is he going to line up? Where does he fall on our depth right now? When do we think we can get him on the field?' That all plays into where we take them. But every coach is different. It's hard to get everybody on the same page but it's also a lot of respect. I respect their jobs, they respect our jobs. We understand that for us to be successful, we all have to be in it together. We don't have to always agree, and when the pick is made we understand who we're getting and why we're getting them."

On if the coaches and scouts watch more film together during the transition period with a new staff:

"Yes, just to get to know each other. Yeah, no doubt about it."

On his philosophy on acquiring draft picks and if he likes to acquire more picks in each draft:

"I do, because if you can acquire them, you can still use them to go back up if need be. If all of the sudden a good player starts falling, you have more ammunition to go back up and get it. Like I said, we have seven right now. I'd love to get 10 out of this thing. You know, we're not going to hit on everybody, but even those seventh rounders, every year those guys are drafted – or even college free agents who are signed – come in and make rosters and they're playing. I want the coaches and scouts to be as excited with the first pick as we are with the seventh -round pick because we figure anybody that we draft has the opportunity to make the 53 [-man roster] – not just the practice squad, but make the 53. It's competition."

On the offense's strength and if changes on the coaching staff could mean changes for the running game:

"I think it will change. I think with the idea that the past position coach that went on from here was more into undersized, quicker, faster guys, more athletic guys. Coach [Bill] Callahan totally agreed with my same philosophy that we want big, tough, nasty, strong guys… I was talking to Bruce [Allen] about it this morning. We're not going to win every game. I want this team when they go out – when you get done playing the Washington Redskins, you know you're playing them. You're going to feel it. I want those guys. We get late in the year and playoff runs and cold weather and nasty games and field conditions, you need to be able to run the football. So I think it's vital, but I think the receiving corps as a whole is pretty good. The O-Line we're addressing. Three young quarterbacks, like I said. I feel really good about it. It's going to be really nice to see the guys on the field doing football stuff, not just the weight room, not just talking, but really moving around and making plays. We'll go from there. But like I said, we're not pigeon-holing ourselves in the first, second, third, fourth round saying, 'We have to go offense, we have to go defense.' It's not that way. We're just going to go best player available."

On feedback about the offseason conditioning program:

"You know what, it's been very positive. Mike Clark, our new strength coach, I talked to him I guess it would have been Friday evening, and last week was our first full week and we had great turnout – great turnout. He says the guys were down there, they're working their tails off. He said he's very excited about the mentality with the personality because he's been around the league a long time in college and the NFL. [They] came in in really good shape. I sat down with Trent Williams – he's in great shape – talked to him. So it's nice to see that, to see the energy level up. It's hard this time of year because you are coming off a 4-12 season, you are last in the division. Sometimes it's hard to get them fired up, get them going, but I think with me coming in and being new, we've got some of them that understand, 'Listen, I better be there this first offseason, make sure he understands that I'm all in.' Because the guys that are here, they've been working their tails off. I think it's vital right now because that's when you start winning games on Sunday in the fall – them working together and taking care of each other."

On what skillset he looks for in a pass rusher: "Their ability to get to the quarterback [smiling]. You know what, they come in all shapes and sizes. Again, I like big guys, long guys, length, but you need to have speed and you need to have quickness but you also need to have power. If you get all three, now you're talking about a really good prospect. But some guys just have two of the things or one of the things. It doesn't make them not a prospect for us, it's just a different value in the draft for us. But I think it's very important to have physical traits that allow you to dominate a guy one-on-one and get to the quarterback."

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