Prepared to deal veterans, Redskins managed draft assets 'pretty intelligently'

Chris Lingebach
May 13, 2019 - 4:53 pm

The Redskins were among several teams willing to trade veteran talent in attempts to move up in the 2019 NFL Draft, Albert Breer tells 106.7 The Fan's Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier.

What we don't know is who those veteran players were, players the Redskins felt were expendable enough to deal in case they did need to make a move.

This tidbit came as part of a larger discussion about Washington's exhaustive planning for this year's draft, the end result of which netted the Redskins Dwayne Haskins and Montez Sweat in the first round.

As Breer writes in The MMQB, Redskins coach Jay Gruden "executed as deep a dive into quarterback scouting as he's done since he held his first full-time position in the NFL, with the Bengals back in 2011." The Bengals selected Andy Dalton in the second round of the 2011 draft.

The Redskins' goal heading into the draft, Breer explained on 106.7 The Fan, was to be as prepared as possible to select a quarterback without being "pigeonholed into taking one at 15."

"That's where you can, a lot of times, wind up making your mistakes, is when you predetermine where you're gonna take one," said Breer. "Because then, if the guy that you wanted is there, maybe you wind up panicking and doing something you shouldn't."

"And so, I think the big thing was the Redskins were in such a weird spot coming into the offseason with Alex Smith indefinitely and unavailable. Same goes for Colt McCoy," he said. "Like Jay said to me, they didn't even have somebody to throw in OTAs a few months ago, and so, I think what they wanted to do is just try to create as much flexibility as they possibly could, where they wouldn't be forced into a spot where they had to take one.

"I think that part of the plan was, okay, like, if we bring in Case Keenum or someone like that, then at the very least, if we need to tread water for a year and get to 2020, we can. But we know we're going to have to take a quarterback somewhere in the draft, so like let's look at all of them. And so I think that that's a smart way to do it."

"It's interesting, because Jay was in a situation – it was similar, but a little different – in 2011, where Carson Palmer had retired, and the Bengals literally couldn't do anything because they were in the middle of a lockout," he continued. "So they couldn't go out and get a veteran option, so they literally had to find a starting quarterback in the draft.

"And I know Jay sort of wanted to try to avoid that this time, where he would be forced to take a guy who he knew was going to be starting for him in the draft. Which was the idea of bringing in Case Keenum in the first place, at least creating an option with a guy who had started in the past. Not that they saw Case as any sort of long-term starter, but at least he was a guy who you could compete with in the short term."

Breer writes in The MMQB that Gruden watched "every 2018 throw, and then some, from every quarterback the team was considering picking."

"Not just Dwayne and not just Kyler [Murray]," Gruden told Breer. "But all of them, from [Clayton] Thorson to [Jarrett] Stidham to [Ryan] Finley, [Will] Grier. All those guys."

Haskins falling to them at 15 was the best-case scenario, but they were prepared to move up if they needed to, or go in a different direction if Haskins was already off the board. Credit where it's due, for an organization that is notorious for its blunders, it sounds like the Redskins were prepared for every scenario on draft day.

"I think one of the main things for them was holding onto the draft capital that they did have, right?" Breer said. "And that's what allowed them to go and get Sweat at the bottom of the first round. It was a big deal to them. And I can tell you this, there were a few teams that were exploring moving up into the first round, right? The Redskins were obviously one of them. We've heard that, right?

"The Redskins were one of the teams that were actually offering veteran players instead of extra picks. And so, I think that they were trying to think creatively here, like, okay, if we do have to move up, or we do feel compelled to move up, what would we do? And I think part of their plan was, well, do we have somebody on our roster that maybe we can move to try and get up into the upper reaches of the first round if we're gonna do it?"

"It sounded to me like, going into the week of the draft, they were really set on the idea of maintaining some flexibility beyond what they were going to do at the quarterback position," Breer continued. "And obviously they got pretty fortunate that Dwayne fell to them at 15, but I do think that they had contingency plans in place, and they weren't planning on just selling out for one.

"And as a result of that, they wind up coming away with a pass rusher that I think would have been in consideration at 15 if Haskins hadn't been there, in Sweat, and then they turn around and they get Terry McLaurin in the third round. You know, we don't know how these players are gonna turn out, but it does feel to me at least like they played the board. They played the game of assets pretty intelligently going into the draft, which I think you guys know better than I do they haven't always done."

Breer wasn't prepared to divulge the names of any Redskins being shopped in the draft, although he would allow this: "I mean, you can probably look down the roster and see."

"I mean, look. They weren't the only team that was doing this," he said. "One of the things that was interesting about the market to trade up was there were so many teams that were desperate to get out, and so many teams that wanted to accumulate picks between 20 and 70, because that's where the real strength of the draft was, right?

"So there were so many teams that were looking to get out of high picks this year that they were pretty active making calls out, so those teams in the top ten were pretty active in trying to spark discussions with some of these teams. And I think some of the teams that were looking to move up were like, 'Well, we don't want to give up what we have there between 20 and 70, we don't want to give up future capital, but maybe X, Y or Z would work.' And I know with a number of teams, that's where some veteran players' names came into the fold."

"I think it's just sort of interesting, from a trend standpoint, the way that that happened this year," Breer said. "One thing that I can tell ya that was really, really interesting about this year's class. We've seen so many big swings up for quarterbacks the last few years, right? I didn't talk to a single person, I didn't hear one mention of a team offering a first-round pick for next year, a 2020 first-round pick, in any sort of scenario moving up. Which I thought, it's pretty unusual that that would never be on the table, but this year it just flat-out wasn't on the table for any of these teams that were looking to move down."

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