SNIDER: Combine presser shows Redskins playing the game

Rick Snider
February 25, 2020 - 4:38 pm

Everything is good in Redskins Land.

In the new era of openness under coach Ron Rivera, the Redskins finally sent someone to talk to the media at the NFL Combine for the first time in recent memory. Oh, well, former president Bruce Allen would give five minutes of nothing with a smug smile in recent years, but the team just ignored the media because they were, after all, smarter than everyone. The 3-13 mark last season proved that.

This time, Redskins vice president of player personnel Kyle Smith took the podium in Indianapolis on Tuesday. OK, get out your notebooks for the following information:

The Redskins front office staff and coaches are getting along swell. They've decided which players are their core and what positions to seek come free agency and the draft. Everyone under contract is expected to report during mandatory camps. Injured running back Derrius Guice should be ready. Everybody likes Dwayne Haskins. Prospective No. 2 pick Chase Young looks good. The team will listen to all offers over trading that selection.

Smith passed his first test in saying nothing because he should say nothing. It just sounded more official and real coming from someone aside Allen, who was a chronic disinformation artist before being fired in December.

But here are a few things on Smith's agenda.

First, call back to Redskins Park and have someone type up a free agent deal for Atlanta's tight end Austin Hooper, dated March 18. Hooper reportedly wants $11 million per year. Make it $12 million and get Haskins a playmaker underneath.

Otherwise, combine week is more about networking while keeping one eye on testing. Anybody can watch Chase Young. That's an intern's job.

Listening to interviews is paramount this week in Indianapolis. In particular, can Smith and staff see a red flag in a conversation without asking stupid questions about someone's personal life. Will they look at the chalk board of a player deciphering a play and see if the latter is smart enough to absorb an NFL playbook? Will Smith and staff see what they want to see in a player, or the reality of that player's future. All too often we heard the Redskins vetted out a player who immediately has problems because no one paid keen attention during combine interviews.

The stats are there for everyone to see. Smith needs to look beyond the obvious. Two straight good drafts show there's hope Washington walks away with a couple contributors. And, Smith needs to maximize the potential trade value of the No. 2 pick should other teams come calling.

But, in the end, the draft and free agency is Rivera's call. Smith can set Rivera up for success, but the latter has the final word no matter PR talk of group effort.

Smith knows what he's doing, which is why his presser was doubletalk. It spoke volumes that the Redskins are once more thankfully run by football people.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks