Jay Gruden decides which games are "Code Red" games...Scot McCloughan decides which players are "Code Red" draft picks.
By now, we have all read the Bleacher Report interview with Scot McCloughan...our very own McLovin. It was a solid glimpse into the mind of the man we all think is among the best in the business when it comes to building a roster. Aside from the color coding (not sure why your two color codes wouldn't be burgundy and gold, but I can live with red and blue), I was most struck by the very end of the piece.
McCloughan: ...You wait and see who we take at 21 in the draft this year. He's a red.
B/R: You already know who it's going to be?
McCloughan: (smiling) Yeah, I think. Hopefully he's not gone. But I'm adding the same kind of guy. Toughness, smarts, competitiveness, team. The whole thing.
source: Bleacher Report
Now we have a mystery to solve! Who is the player McLovin is talking about? Which player is already loaded up onto a draft card, ready to be raced up to the podium during the first round?
We have clues to follow, but those clues lead us all over the map. He compared the player favorably to Scherff, a player he calls a "core guy" and one that other players don't fancy messing with during the week.
The key is right there in the interview..."he is a red."
Perhaps he is talking about this player being from the Alabama Crimson Tide? They are red for sure. That would mean someone like Reggie Ragland or A'Shawn Robinson. Oooooohhh...or Jarran Reedâhis last name is almost "red." Based on looks alone, A'Shawn Robinson is among the last guys I would ever want to make angry or mess with. He just looks mean, and something about that makes me desperate to put him on our defensive line. If this is my first thought, surely plenty of other weak minds leapt to the same conclusion. McLovin would never leave such a short trail of bread crumbs. Unless...(more below).
Hmmm...not flashy, not the prettiest player...red.
Apples are red. Eli Apple, the corner out of Ohio State, would be a great addition to the roster. Though he doesn't play nose tackle, he would fill a major need on any NFL team, including the Redskins. My guess is that we would all celebrate the addition of a defender like him. But...everyone is going to make the "apple is red" assumption. It's too obvious and that is not the way McLovin works.
When I think of Scherff, the player that McLovin is holding out here as a comparison to the guy he has in mind for #21, I think of a player that he got ripped for taking "too early" for the position he ultimately settled into last season. That deep in the first round, there aren't many guys that will be called reaches, unless we end up taking the 5th or 6th best defensive lineman in the draft. At that point, I can see a Mel Kiper asking why McLovin would opt for the 6th best defensive lineman when the 2nd best corner is sitting there. Now we're talking about guys like Andrew Billings, Sheldon Rankins, or even a Vernon Butler. Butler, in particular, could be a player that some would think belongs at the top of the second round instead of the bottom of the first. I hate when people split those hairs, but that is the reality of the draft in this era. Butler is a 6-4, 323-pounder that looks a LOT like the kind of player McLovin favors. It is extremely likely that he will be available, allowing a team in our position to set our sights on him. The only problem is, who cares? When general managers open their mouths this time of year, it isn't to tell people the truth. Every word serves a purpose. Announcing to the world that you intend to draft Vernon Butler is going to blow exactly zero skirts up. This can't be who he had in mind.
At #21, you have a lot of leeway in terms of what position you draft. If the top center in the draft class is sitting there available, and your team has a need at that position, the draft card writes itself. We ruled out the obvious Alabama Crimson Tide tie-in above, but I still think Ryan Kelly fits everything McLovin spoke about in this article. Like Scherff, he is a gritty, strong and pro-ready offensive lineman. If you believe you can get a starting defensive lineman in the second round (which I doâespecially given our current depth chart), you have the freedom to address a different need with a top prospect. The only problem is that I give the chances that Kelly falls to us 50-50 at best. McLovin did mention that he hopes his guy will still be there, so that speaks to this situation, but it would seem almost irresponsible to fall in love with a guy that is likely to not be an option.
We've done some good work here...narrowing down the field to less than a dozen players. I don't know who McLovin has in mind as his "red guy," but I know I'm seeing red right now. We have spent so much time in recent years picking so much higher in the draft, it became lost on me how much you can improve your team at the bottom of the first round. I would take any of these players. I can see them all having an impact right away.
This isn't my best player in the draft post (that is coming), but if I was handicapping the game of "Who Is McLovin Talking About?" I would have to place the highest odds on Vernon Butler and Andrew Billings, with Ryan Kelly following very closely behind. These guys strike me as the kind of "football player" Brandon Scherff is, and they each impact the line of scrimmage meaningfully, which I believe is a huge priority still for our fearless leader.