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Scot McCloughan, Redskins Must Weigh Worth Of Underclassmen

Posted Mar 2, 2016

Despite the fact that Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan tends to select more seniors in the NFL Draft, there may be more opportunities to select underclassmen this year.

Despite the fact that Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan tends to select more seniors in the NFL Draft, there may be more opportunities to select underclassmen this year.

Washington Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan has made it clear over and over again: he prefers experienced talent in the NFL Draft.

That was backed up by his selections during last year’s draft, his first in his position with the Redskins, when nine of 10 picks had stayed for their senior seasons.

Going back even further, five-time Pro Bowl tackle Joe Staley and Super Bowl-winning quarterback Russell Wilson, who McCloughan helped bring to San Francisco and Seattle respectively, completed all of their possible college eligibility.

In this year’s crop of prospects, though, there are nearly 100 underclassmen eager to get their professional careers started earlier than expected.

“I don’t want to get into certain positions with the draft but it’s very solid draft, it’s one of the better drafts I’ve seen throughout the last couple of years with prospects,” McCloughan said. “Across the board. Yeah, it’s unique and this year we had [96] juniors come out, or underclassmen. Last year was 65. So that plays into it, too. But that’s scary. That’s why it’s so important to be here and get measurable, get the medical, get the interview stuff with the juniors, the underclassmen. But it’s a strong draft, very strong.”

Indeed, some of the players that decided to forgo their senior seasons may not have been exclusively about their talent.

Take Ole Miss defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche.

Nkemdiche has the skill to be the No.1 pick in this year’s draft. But he comes with his red flags, too, after an off-field incident in December resulted in him being charged with marijuana possession.

The Redskins were the first team to formally meet with Nkemdiche at the NFL Combine last week.

"I have changed. I’ve lasered my focus to what’s important and kept away from things that can take football away from me and jeopardize my career because I love the game so much,” Nkemdiche told the media. “I never want it to be taken away from me, and I know if I’m in situations like that it can be taken away from me. I’ve just cleaned up a little bit.”

But there are also a fair amount of talented juniors on which the Redskins could ultimately pull the trigger when they’re on the clock.

Among those that have been linked to the Redskins in mock drafts are Clemson cornerback Mackensie Alexander, Oklahoma State defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah and Baylor defensive lineman Andrew Billings.

“From my standpoint, we’re going to scout them this year, we’re going to scout them next year,” McCloughan said. “Either way it’s the same. But if a guy’s an even junior or redshirt sophomore and a senior, I’d take the senior, a guy that fulfilled his commitment. But still, it’s understandable these underclassmen are really talented guys.”

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