As part of Hogs Haven's first quarter grading series, I'm going to briefly discuss the impact GM Scot McCloughan has had on the Redskins in his first year at the helm.
There are a few elements to this. First, you have to consider the players he's signed and let walk via free agency. Then you take a look at his first draft with Washington. With the draft, there is the immediate impact aspect as well as the future outlook. You combine those elements and you turn it into a grade, which will follow at the end of this post.
Free Agency: For the most part, McCloughan's first free agency in Washington appears to be on the right track. Terrance Knighton, Ricky Jean-Francois, Chris Culliver and Stephen Paea have all had positive impacts so far, and Culliver's should become more significant as he gets healthy. Jeron Johnson, one of McCloughan's other top acquisitions, has been a disappointment so far. An injury early on put him at a disadvantage, and he has yet to work his way into favor.
Dashon Goldson, though he came to Washington via trade instead of free agency, has also had a decent season. He hasn't been great, and both he and Trenton Robinson appear to have had some communication lapses at times, but he's been mostly reliable and a notable upgrade over the safeties the Redskins have trotted out in recent seasons.
As for the Redskins' own free agents, that was a tougher job for the new GM. He made the right call in letting Brian Orakpo walk, and he continued in that pattern of letting generally disappointing Redskins go. Leaving with Orakpo were Jarvis Jenkins, Leonard Hankerson, Stephen Bowen, Roy Helu, Brandon Meriweather, E.J. Biggers, Santana Moss, Barry Cofield and others.
It's not really surprising Hankerson is thriving in Atlanta. Often, players leave Washington and go on to have success in other organizations, and it certainly doesn't hurt having Matt Ryan throw to him and Julio Jones there to distract safeties. Helu had some perks, but he was superfluous and the Redskins weren't going to pay him what he wanted or give him the snaps he wanted, so a split was inevitable. Most other players Washington let go have been OK or ineffective, which is a good sign for McCloughan.
Overall, I'd give McCloughan an A- for free agency. He filled a lot of holes for the immediate future and he didn't make any splashy signings that could cripple the team for years to come. A bit of luck on the injury front would make his free agency period look even better, but you can't have it all.
Draft: When Leonard Williams dropped to the Redskins at No. 5 in late April, it seemed like McCloughan had happened across a gold mine. And then he (kind of) shocked everybody when he opted for Brandon Scherff, instead. Scherff has been decent but not spectacular so far, but he appears to be improving as he goes, which is important. Meanwhile, Williams is having a stellar rookie season and topped Mel Kiper's most recent rookie rankings.
But it's hard to find much wrong with McCloughan's picks after Scherff, and that's not to say Scherff was a bad pick at all. Second-round pick Preston Smith is filling in well as a complementary pass rusher and has made several impact plays already. Matt Jones has been a great addition to the backfield and should be a 1,000-yard runner at some point; his 223 yards from scrimmage is fourth-best among rookie running backs.
Jamison Crowder has increased his playing time and production in each game, and he was most recently targeted 12 times (for seven catches) against the Philadelphia Eagles. DeSean Jackson's return will likely cut into Crowder's opportunities, but he should have more field to work with when his opportunities come.
After that, it's been hit and miss. Kyshoen Jarrett has already shown some value, and there's reason to like the Arie Kouandjio and Martrell Spaight picks. Losing Tevin Mitchel to injury and then to the Indianapolis Colts was unfortunate, but it's hard to get too bummed out about a sixth-round pick not working out. Also, there's no harm in having an extra receiver (Evan Spencer) and interior lineman (Austin Reiter) to develop, and Deshazor Everett and Quinton Dunbar are worth keeping an eye on.
For the present, I'd give McCloughan's first draft with the Redskins a B. However, drafts should not be graded based on what the players do after four games, and Scherff, especially, was seen as a player who would need time to develop. This draft class could look very good in three years, or even in three games. The biggest positive takeaway, for me, is that each rookie who's getting snaps appears to be improving on a game-to-game basis.
Overall: When you look at the immediate and future impact of the draft and McCloughan's initial free agency moves, it's hard not to be impressed. Nobody expected him to turn the seven-wins-in-two-years Redskins into 12-game winners this year. Still, he dramatically reshaped the defense, the offensive line is much improved and looks to be a positive going forward instead of a glaring hole, and the addition of young, later-round skill players like Jones and Crowder will make it easier for the team to lose players like Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson or Alfred Morris going forward, if that happens to be the case. McCloughan gets a B+ so far.