Scot McCloughan enters his first free agency period and draft process as Washington Redskins GM with a large number of holes to fix in a roster that lacks depth and talent at many different positions. Although McCloughan would love to take the Packers approach and stick to drafting and developing his own players, McCloughan may not have a choice but to be more active in free agency than he would like to be just to field a competitive team in 2015.
However, although I agree with McCloughan's draft first mentality, there is a place in free agency when building a championship contender, and if you spend your money wisely on young players who are capable of out playing their contracts, you can help build a solid football team with depth.
With free agency set to start a week from today, I attempt to fill in for Mr. McCloughan and start the process of fixing the Redskins using Fanspeak's Manage the Cap and On the Clock tools to simulate a Mock Off-Season.
Chris Chester (Saves 4 million)
Tracy Porter (Saves 2.8 million)
Logan Paulson (Saves 1.75 million)
Kedric Golston (Saves 1.1 million)
Niles Paul TE, 25
2015 cap hit:1,500,000
Paul is an underrated player, serving as a core special teams player as well as a reliable tight end with soft hands and the ability to block. I was able to re-sign the versatile tight end for a relatively good price.
After re-signing Paul, I started the free agency period with roughly 33.2 million to spend.
Ryan Mallett: QB, 26
2015 Cap Hit: 2,640,000
Mallett would give the Redskins three young quarterbacks capable of starting. If Gruden is truly the Redskins guy moving forward, Mallett might be his best option moving forward. The Arkansas product is a big (6'6") drop back passer that is made for Gruden's offense. Let it be known that I do not, in any way expect this to happen. However, with Cousins turnover issues, Griffin's inability to bounce back after a phenomenal rookie campaign, a legit quarterback competition could be exactly what's needed in Washington.
Stefen Wisniewski: C, 25
2015 Cap Hit: 4,025,000
Wisniewski is a solid center, a position that is often undervalued among the offensive line. I do believe that the Redskins have some young potential on their current roster, however, adding a solid player in the middle could be just what the Redskins need to finally have a serviceable offensive line. I will admit that I was more interested in Rodney Hudson, but his price tag was simply too high for my liking.
Byron Bell: T, 26
2015 Cap Hit: 3,225,000
Bell is another addition that came late in free agency. I looked in other directions, specifically trying to sign Doug Free to a two year deal that would fill the need immediately, and allow Morgan Moses to recover from injury and develop without rushing him into a starting position. However, Free among a few other options were simply too expensive at the end of the day. I felt I got better value by signing Bell, who fits the size (6'6 340) that Gruden, Callahan, and McCloughan value as well as possessing the talent to start at right tackle.
Dan Williams: NT, 27
2015 Cap Hit: 3,225,000
I aggressively pursued Williams from the beginning of free agency, and he was one of my top priorities to bring to the nation's capital. Williams will give the Redskins their first legit space eating nose tackle since the team switched to the 3-4 defense in 2010. Williams will provide an immediate impact and upgrade to the Redskins defensive unit.
Pernell McPhee: OLB, 26
2015 Cap Hit: 4,900,000
This was probably my "flashiest" free agent addition. However, I feel that it needs to be a priority for the Redskins to take advantage of both the deep free agency and draft class of pass rushers. Because as John Keim would say: "You can never have enough pass rushers"; and I couldn't agree more. A combination of Kerrigan, Murphy, McPhee, and possibly another draft selection would provide a solid rotation of pass rushers with the versatility to line up at different possessions, and create mis-matches in the Redskins favor.
Chris Culliver: CB, 26
2015 Cap Hit: 2,475,000
I thought I got pretty good value from this signing. The Redskins secondary needs help, David Amerson regressed last season, and after two Achilles tears, DeAngelo Hall should not be relied upon. Adding Culliver adds another good, young, long (something Perry Fewell values highly) corner to the Redskins mix. Even in the best case scenario, if Breeland continues to progress, Hall returns to form, and Amerson can become the ball hawk he was drafted to be, the NFL is becoming more and more of a pass happy league, and having multiple cover guys isn't the worst problem to have.
Da'Norris Searcy: S, 26
2015 Cap Hit: 4,550,000
If you read my last Mock Off-Season, you know I'm high on Searcy, and that hasn't changed. However, I did try to look at some other options, just so I don't bore you with the same signings. However, I simply couldn't find better value on the safety market than Searcy. If Searcy makes it to the open market, the Redskins should make him a priority.
Jeron Johnson: S, 26
2015 Cap Hit: 1,750,000
If you follow my writing at all, it's no secret that I believe McCloughan has to bring in two safeties capable of starting in 2015. Jeron Johnson isn't the most well-known name, but it's easy to be lost in the shadows of Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas. However, I believe Johnson has the ability to be a solid in the box type strong safety, who can at the very least provide competition to Phillip Thomas, as well as be an asset to the Redskins special teams unit.
Akeem Ayers: OLB, 25
2015 Cap Hit: 2,940,000
Another signing I am particularly proud of, I feel I got solid value from Ayers. Ayers is a young player who gives the Redskins another versatile rusher who can line up from multiple spots. I'm a big believer in getting coaches players who fit their scheme, and I feel like I have left free agency giving new defensive coordinator Joe Barry a solid core of linebackers to get creative with.
The Bottom Line:
The theme of free agency once again: young players for a reasonable price who are still in the prime of their careers, and have the ability to out play their contracts. The Redskins haven't spent the 89% minimum cash payment threshold that was introduced in the last CBA. The Redskins are at 87% for the first two years, and need to hit at least 89% by year four. So, while I didn't bring in any headline grabbing names like Ndamukong Suh or Mike Iupati; I wasn't afraid to shell out some cash for young players who fill needs and have the ceiling to out play the deal.
After a solid free agency period, I head into the draft looking to get as much young talent and depth as possible. In other words, I am looking to trade back and gather picks when possible. I ended up succeeding in trading back twice in order to gain additional picks. Here's how the draft shook out for me:
Round 1, pick 14
Danny Shelton, NT Washington
I am thrilled to be able to trade back and gain additional picks and still be able to add Shelton at 14 overall. If Shelton happens to get by Chicago at number 7 overall, I don't think this is out of the realm of possibilities. The Redskins go from having zero true nose tackles on their roster to having two in Dan Williams and Danny Shelton. Having the pair of them will allow the Redskins to rotate them, allowing them to stay fresh and wreak havoc at the line of scrimmage.
Round 2, pick 6
Laken Tomlinson, G Duke
Tomlinson is one of my top rated interior lineman, who also happens to possess the size that McCloughan looks for in his lineman (6'3 323). Having Tomlinson and Long on the roster gives the Redskins two promising young guards for the future, without having to break the bank for a guy like Iupati or Franklin.
Round 2, pick 23
Carl Davis, DL Iowa
I was thrilled to be able to get Davis at this point in the draft. I love Davis' upside and versatility to play inside, as a defensive tackle when the Skins line up in the 4-3, and play as a 5-tech defensive end. More and more teams are using a rotation along their defensive line, so I'm happy to add youth and depth to the d-line.
Round 3, pick 5
Jay Ajayi, RB Boise State
I really like this pick. There are other options such as Ameer Abdullah who fit what Guden wants in a third down back, I think Ajayi is the more complete back. Ajayi can provide a compliment to Alfred Morris, as well as being a third down back. Ajayi runs hard and has soft hands coming out of the backfield, he is favorably compared to Matt Forte.
Round 3, pick 14
Stephone Anthony, ILB Clemson
Stephone Anthony has shot up draft boards since his impressive combine performance. Anthony doesn't do anything fantastic, but he does just about everything well. He is a physical inside linebacker, but possesses the speed to be effective in coverage. I believe Anthony can be a legit three down linebacker. He can come in and compete with Perry Riley immediately, and at the very least come in on obvious passing downs as well as contribute to special teams.
Round 4, pick 6
Byron Jones, CB Connecticut
Jones is another prospect on the rise after a solid combine. However, due to a season ending injury combined with a solid, but not spectacular college career could make him available here. Jones has ideal size (6'1), and has a lot of upside. He isn't a quick twitch athlete, but makes up for it with a high football IQ. He might be over drafted because of his measurables and ridiculous combine numbers, but if he is still available here, it feels like a classic McCloughan pick.
Round 4, pick 15
Henry Anderson, DE Stanford
Anderson has the ideal body type for a 3-4 defensive end (6'6 294), and can add some bulk and strength and really find a niche as a five-tech defensive end. Anderson is a High motor player who plays with the intensity you want, and is intelligent and uses his hands well.
Round 4, pick 24
Anthony Harris, S Virginia
The Redskins addressed the safety position in free agency, adding two starting caliber players. However, you still need to look long term and begin developing younger talent now. I really like Anthony Harris as an athletic strong safety. I feel he can have an immediate impact on special teams, and think his ceiling is higher than Phillip Thomas'.
Round 5, pick 5
Nick O'leary, TE Florida State
Niles Paul is an underrated player, and Jordan Reed has the ability to be special if he can stay on the field. However, the Redskins still need more depth at the position. O'leary reminds me of a former Redskin fan favorite, Chris Cooley. He isn't the best athlete, but he knows how to get open and has solid hands.
Round 5, pick 23
Durrell Eskridge, S Syracuse
The same thing I said about Harris applies to Eskridge. A free safety with McCloughan size (6'3) written all over him, a former wide receiver who possesses the ball skills and range you look for in a free safety. Eskridge is an extremely raw player, but has the potential to be one of the only true center-fielders to come from this class, and is worth a chance at this point in the draft.
Round 6, pick 6
Stefon Diggs, WR Maryland
Stefon Diggs is special with the ball in his hands, but much like Jordan Reed, staying on the field isn't the easiest for the former Maryland standout. I really like the value Diggs provides at this point, both as a returner and a slot receiver. Has a good combination of size (6'0) and explosiveness.
Round 6, pick 22
Ladarius Gunter, CB Miami (FL)
Another long corner (6'1), Gunter is solid in press coverage. However, Gunter had an inconsistent college career and doesn't possess the ability to mirror receivers or ideal speed (although he can make up for that with length). Gunter may not be ready to contribute immediately, and could be a practice squad candidate, but has the potential to develop into a solid player.
Round 7, pick 5
Devin Gardner, WR Michigan
Devin Gardner was not a very good quarterback at Michigan, however, he is making a position switch to receiver and possesses the size the Redskins receiving corps lacks (6'4). Gardner is a solid athlete, and looked pretty good as a receiver at the shrine game, and is worth a chance at this point in the draft. Gardner could develop into a solid red zone target.
The Bottom Line:
I feel like I got some valuable, young signings from free agency, and was happy with my ability to add additional picks in the draft to add depth and young talent to a roster that desperately needs it. However, with the added youth, it's now on the coaching staff to develop and get the most out of the players to become championship contenders in a few years.