Blues, Reds, Toughness, Smarts, Competiveness, Core Guys, Team Players....this is the language Redskins GM Scot McCloughan speaks at draft time.
In the weeks after the Super Bowl, amateur GM's and mock drafters come out in droves, attempting to predict their favorite team's draft picks. Here on HH, we have at least one mock draft a week posted, and many more follow in the comments section. However thoughtful, provoking and rational these mocks may be, no one actually has a clue to what Scot McCloughan is up to in the 2016 NFL draft...or do we?
In an interview with Jason Cole of Bleacher Report conducted at the owners meetings last month, Scot gave some insight into the mind of a true scouting genius: "You wait and see who we take at 21 in the draft this year," McCloughan told Cole. "He’s a red."
McCloughan's explanation of the colors is as follows: "A "blue" is a perennial Pro Bowler. A "red" is a really good football player. "If you’re lucky, you have four or five blues, and hopefully one of those is your quarterback," McCloughan told Cole. "If you have another 30 who are reds, starters, solid backups, core special teams guys, then you have a chance."
Scot went on to say when prompted by Cole if he knew who he would select at 21. "Yeah, I think. Hopefully he’s not gone. But I’m adding the same kind of guy. Toughness, smarts, competitiveness, team. The whole thing."
Refering to "the same type of guy", he was referencing last year's first round pick, offensive linemen Brandon Scherff, who the Redskins took fifth overall. McCloughan went on to say this to Cole about Scherff. "He’s not the most flashy guy, he’s not the prettiest guy, but he’s a football player, and that’s what I’m talking about with a red," McCloughan said of Scherff, who played all but one snap as a rookie. "Now, he might be a blue in two years, three years. Who knows? But right now, he’s a red. He’s a core guy, and, all of a sudden, guys walk in next year and see him, they’ll be like, ‘OK, that’s how we act. That’s how we lift weights. That’s how we condition. That’s how we go to meetings. That’s how we practice.’ Guys walk in, and they’re scared of him. Trent Williams is scared of him, and he’s a Pro Bowler."
Does Scot give us any true insight to who he may select if he's available at pick 21 in the 2016 NFL Draft?
I believe he does, and I believe that player is Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland.
In a recent article I did discussing Scot McCloughan's draft trends, I mentioned how Scot prefers upper classmen from Power 5 schools, specifically the SEC, who were productive, team leaders, and showed toughness, competitiveness, a team-first attitude, and who have high character. He also likes big players who can take the grind of NFL life. Ragland fits the mold for all these traits. He waited his time, and learned from upper classmen for two years before he made his own impact at Alabama. He was a vocal leader of Alabama's defense, while leading the team in tackles as a senior. He was named a unanimous All-American, and first team All-SEC. He was also a finalist for some of college football's top defensive awards.
As for cracking McCloughan's color code, Ragland surly qualifies as a "Red". He also is "the same type of guy" as last year's top pick Brandon Scherff. Ragland is not flashy, he's not pretty; but he's a football player. I know Ragland didn't test extremely well at the combine, and he may not light the weight room on fire with his raw power, but from all accounts, he's a guy who loves the game, players with passion, and puts the time in the film room to become the best player he can be on the field.
Ragland certainly has some holes in his game, as he tends to be a step slow in diagnosing plays, doesn't always get off blocks, and lacks the speed and fluidity to be effective in pass coverage, but he covers these flaws up with a rather high football IQ and work ethic. He may not be the splash pick that Redskins fans are hoping to see, but he just may be the sound pick McCloughan was describing to Jason Cole in his interview.
The biggest issue the Redskins had last year on defense was stopping the run. Ragland's biggest strength is stopping the run. He may not turn out to be a complete 3-down linebacker in the mold of a Patrick Willis, or Luke Kuechly, but he could certainly become a solid "Red" for our football team down the road, and help a defense that was ranked near the bottom of the NFL in stopping the run.
No one knows what Scot McCloughan will do at pick 21, but putting the pieces of the puzzle together should give us a pretty clear picture as to what type of football player Scot is looking to add. To me, the picture he's painting looks a lot like Reggie Ragland.