clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

A Big Man's Game - The Scot McCloughan Philosophy

Mark Tyler takes a look at how Scot McCloughan's draft philosophies could play out this offseason.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

In the words of his former mentor and boss, Ron Wolf - Scot McCloughan has an "exceptional...uncanny" gift. It was this "gift" that prompted Wolf to offer the then minor league outfielder for the Toronto Blue Jays farm system $18,500 annually to be a scout for the Green Bay Packers. Scot would go on to learn from his mentor, a blueprint for building a winning team. A blueprint that favors building from the ground up, with an idea to draft well, and invest in the development of those players, instead of "buying talent" via free agency - a move Redskins fans have seen all too often. Ron Wolf instilled in his proteges a core system of values that include 1) building an infrastructure of young, reasonably priced players through the draft; 2) trusting coaches to play and develop young players; and 3) securing contract extensions with ascending core players before they reach their leverage point of free agency. In the short time we have seen Scot McCloughan in Washington, we have seen him implement these philosophies his mentor taught him.

Must Reads

So where did a former minor league baseball player develop this gift, you ask?

Scot's father Kent was a defensive back for the Raiders, and during his time there, he became a valuable asset to the late, great Al Davis as a player AND talent evaluator, so much so, that towards the end of his career, Davis wouldn't let him retire because of this immense value he brought to the organization. After his playing days were over, Kent became a scout for the Raiders. "My dad was on the road all the time; he worked his tail off," Scot recalled. When Scot was young, he would sit in the family's basement and watch film on players with his father. He would skip school to watch film on the family's old projector, and spent the weekend watching the NFL Draft, before it became the popular event it is today. It was here that he learned the skills that have made him a great GM and talent evaluator, but it was through Wolf, that he honed those skills to become the talent that he is today.

In Washington, Scot McCloughan's contract gives him total control of the Redskins roster, but he constantly preaches consensus-building, a collaborative model that involves all of his lieutenants, team president Bruce Allen, head coach Jay Gruden and owner Daniel Snyder. Scot is open to opinions, whether he agrees with them or not - this according to a member of the Redskins front office, and he is constantly giving credit to other people around him.

This "team approach" is great, but Scot is the person who will be ultimately be held accountable for roster decisions, so, with this in mind, what does the General look for in the type of player he brings into the fold?

Game film holds the most importance to McCloughan. Not the Combine, not Pro Days, not running routes on air with your team's former quarterback throwing you passes. To Scot, it's about toughness, heart and commitment. It's the thankless work a player does when the ball isn't in his hands. It's watching how a guy explodes off blocks, jumps up and down on the sideline when a teammate makes a big play, or throwing a block downfield to spring a teammate loose. Words like quick-twitch reflexes, and low center of gravity frequent his vocabulary.

Scot refers to the NFL as a "big man's game." He values size, smarts and passion on both sides of the trenches. "We want smart guys and we want tough guys...we want big, tough, nasty, strong guys."  When discussing pass rushers he said, "I like big guys, long guys, length." "in Washington, we're going to draft these guys and we are going to draft them and mold them as Redskins. We're not going to have to go out to other organizations and bring in 32 and 33 year olds who have different plans. I think the best case scenario is you draft and mold your own and re-sign your own."

As we all know in professional football, there is this thing called Coach/GM speak. Sometimes guys like to talk the talk, but when it comes time to walk the walk, their core values go down the drain. This doesn't seem to be the case with Scot McCloughan. What he told us when he was hired, came to fruition during the 2015 draft. Scot stuck by his "big, tough and nasty" mentality along the offensive line, drafting the 6'5" 320 lb Brandon Scherff at OT/G, 6'5" 310 lb Arie Kouandjio at guard, and the 6'3" 300 lb center Austin Reiter. Along the defensive front, Scot used his second round pick on Preston Smith, a pass-rushing outside linebacker, who was the second biggest player at his respective position in the draft, and whose 34 inch arms are longer than many offensive tackles. In running back Matt Jones, McCloughan drafted a player who is massive, runs with passion, and can impose his will on defenders attempting to bring him down. With Jamison Crowder, Scot got a player who shows fiery emotion, fears nothing, has a very high football IQ, and who does some of the little things when the ball is not in his hands. Although he may be small in size, he possesses the heart of a lion, and the work-ethic to match. Put it this way, Crowder plays much bigger than he is.

Big, tough, long, physical, nasty, strong, smart, relentless....these are some of the attributes Scot talked about with reporters during some introductory press conferences and meetings leading up to the draft. So how will this mentality hold true in the 2016 offseason?

Some top needs for the Redskins this offseason are at defensive line, center, wide receiver, defensive back and linebacker. The draft is loaded at defensive line, and many project that position to be a target with our first round selection(pick 21). If Scot holds true to his philosophies, there are a few prospects who could fit very nicely with this mentality. It will be interesting to see his approach as the draft comes closer and some questions become answered.

This team is beginning to take on the identity of it's leader. This identity can become a model of success for years to come, and be the blueprint on which a sturdy foundation is forged. The future is looking bright in DC, and it is due largely in part to the vision a man once learned as he worked his way up from a minor league baseball outfielder, to one of the game's best scouts and General Managers.

I'd like to discuss some of Scot's philosophies in the draft, and how they may fit with some prospects we've been talking about for the last couple of weeks in the comments section. Feel free to take this discussion into potential free agent targets as well.