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Should the Redskins Use First Round Draft Pick or Trade Down?

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

The Washington Redskins, fresh off their NFC East division title-winning season, have been relatively quiet during 2016 free agency period. They have re-signed many of their own players and have re-emphasized a new theory that they have embraced as an organization: to draft and develop their own talent.

With Washington’s theory thoroughly intact, the other teams in the division have been relatively active during this same time frame. For instance, the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants have made major free agent acquisitions as well as trades that have netted a few draft picks.

The Redskins possess the 21st pick in Round 1 of the draft and look to add a front-line talent to help bolster the roster. But would it be better for the team to trade out of that pick for quantity in order to add depth and/or more than one starter to help the team achieve playoff status again in 2016?

A high-value pick will surely be there at 21 but perhaps that player may be one that could also be available in the early part of Round 2.

If the team were to trade down and accrue more picks they could do what General Manager Scot McCloughan thinks would be ideal… add more picks and turn their current eight allotted selections into 12.  

Speaking from the annual NFL Owners Meetings in Boca Raton, Florida, McCloughan divulged that idea. 

“The thing is, the more you kind of swing at it, the more chances you’ve got to hit,” he said. “And I think last year we had a solid draft. We got some guys that came in and helped us win a division. We’re going to keep adding to [the roster]. And the more picks I can get, the more younger [and] healthier guys [I can get], I’m going that route.”

Last year the team and McCloughan had a widely successful 2015 draft.  The irony is that they made a few draft-day trades, wheeling and dealing, to get to 10 picks from the seven they had before the draft began.

McCloughan understands that the nucleus and foundation of this young team is in place but to build depth and competition, another strong draft is imperative.

“I preach and preach and preach and I’ll never change,” he said. “You build through the draft. You identify your own who can play, but not just from a talent standpoint; but from a personality standpoint, character standpoint, a passion standpoint, a competitive standpoint where you know, ‘This guy fits what we’re looking for. We can build on these guys.’ And they teach younger guys how to do it.”

There are Redskins fans out there that have not ever seen the process done this way before. In the past, the Redskins were an organization that has made the draft more a big part of their marketing plans; from parading draft picks around FedEx Field to an all-out fan Draft Day party.
The team’s new approach however, is one that the great teams use year-in and year-out. That is, to grow the roster with its own talent… talent that it drafted and it developed. 

Trading down may be the correct approach in 2016 in order to add even more new talent that can, at the very least, contribute and possibly even start. The Redskins still have a few holes that need to be addressed.

When looking for players to better the team, McCloughan has gone after those with whom he is familiar and who have won in previous organizations.  Adding this type of player is crucial in that they help mold the younger players as they develop in the organization.

The GM stated the importance of having both winning veterans and young developing talent on the roster. Players such as safety Dashon Goldson, Chris Culliver and Terrance Knighton were brought in last year as guys who have played on Super Bowl teams. Both Goldson and Knighton have since been released but may be resigned by the team.

“Like I did last year, and I’m going to keep trying to do,” McCloughan said, “Especially in free agency —  is bring guys from organizations that have won in defenses that have been very strong, very powerful… and offense, too. But it’s just bringing guys in that have seen it. They know what it looks like. They know how to practice, they know how to take notes [and] they know how to lift weights – they understand, ‘This is what we have to do to be successful.’ You mold them. You draft them; you bring them into your building. 

“You know, the first experience in the NFL is with the Washington Redskins,” he went on. “I think that’s important because the coaches know them. They know how they learn, they know how to put them in a situation to be successful or not successful… they know how to make them become better football players.”

In listening to McCloughan speak it sounds like the team will look heavily into trading down and acquiring more picks.

Unless there is a sure-fire talent that is high on the Redskins’ draft board sitting at 21, it would not be a surprise to indeed see their first selection come at a much later position so that they can further develop the roster.

About the Author

Lake Lewis Jr
Lake Lewis Jr., Owner and Founder of SportsJourney, is a credentialed NFL Reporter and TV Analyst covering the Washington Redskins. Redskins Reporter and Content Producer for USA TODAY Sports Media Group, Lewis a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) is also a syndicated sports radio host having broadcast on ESPN Radio and CBS Sports Radio. You can hear him hosting the daily Redskins Podcast - Locked On Redskins. Follow him on Twitter @LakeLewis and Instagram at LakeLewisJr

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