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Redskins coach Jay Gruden likes what he's seen so far from draft picks

ASHBURN, Va. -- The size jumped out, especially the Redskins’ first three draft choices. Brandon ScherffPreston SmithMatt Jones. All three of them are considered big players for their positions.

That, of course, was the plan of general manager Scot McCloughan. It’s not as if every player is big -- Jamison Crowder is listed at 5-foot-8, for example.

But Scherff is 6-5, 320 pounds; Smith is 6-5, 270 pounds; and Jones is 6-3, 230 pounds.

“We got the big thing taken care of,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “Now we’ve just got to make sure they can play. Like Scot says, it’s a big man’s game. Crowder might have something to say about that. There are some guys that are effective at different sizes, but we like the guys.”

Gruden and the Redskins are working with the draftees on the field for the first time during this weekend’s rookie minicamp. In addition to the 10 draft picks, there are 12 undrafted free agents, 35 tryout players and eight first-year veterans.

Gruden singled out their first-year veteran tight ends Je'Ron Hamm and Chase Dixon as well as nose tackle Robert Thomas for their performances.

But it was really about seeing the draft picks. Two of them, Scherff and Smith, are expected to have key roles on their respective sides of the ball.

Of course, there’s only so much you can gauge from watching players in shorts, T-shirts and helmets.

“And we’re not going crazy-hard tempo,” Gruden said. “For Brandon, shorts is not what he wants. He wants the pads. I think he’s done some good things. Obviously, moving over to right tackle is not just a transition that’s going to be immediate and easy for him. He’s going to have to take some lumps, but the good thing about Brandon is he’s very focused. He studies very hard, he takes coaching extremely well and he’s got the best coach to coach him up. But I think you see the progress from yesterday morning to yesterday afternoon to today, it’s a significant change for him already. And I think he’s going to continue to get better.

“And then Preston, I think what you see is what you get. You’ve got a tall, young kid with huge upside, and it’s our job as coaches to get that upside out of him and get him to work. I think for the first three practices, throwing at them what we’ve thrown at them, I think they’ve done good.”

Some more nuggets from Gruden’s presser:

  • The Redskins might take only three quarterbacks to training camp, the same number they had last summer. They have two tryout quarterbacks in camp -- Hutson Mason (Georgia) and Anthony Neyer (USC). Gruden said undrafted free-agent signee Connor Halliday “chose to jump on a plane and head to the house.” He hasn’t spoken to him yet, though Halliday left a voice message for Gruden. One source Friday said that Halliday had “sort of” retired.

  • Receiver Evan Spencer, a sixth-round pick, did not practice Saturday because of a hamstring issue.