With offseason workouts and minicamps in the rear view mirror and training camps just a few weeks away, we assess the Washington Redskins' offseason moves and assign a letter grade in the video above.
Best move: Hiring Scot McCloughan as general manager. The Redskins lacked an experienced and proven person in personnel until McCloughan arrived in January. He’s not a miracle worker, but he at least provided the front office with someone who could provide legitimate help. And, for a change, the Redskins actually seemed to have a blueprint from the front office in terms of what sort of player they wanted to pursue. It led to the Redskins having a somewhat understated but strong offseason. It also resulted in coach Jay Gruden having more confidence in moves that were being made and, more importantly, it provided him with a football person who has some juice in the organization. Bruce Allen had been in that role, but is best served as team president. McCloughan’s moves won’t carry double meaning with them.
Riskiest move: Picking up quarterback Robert Griffin III's fifth-year option might not be a huge risk, but it does carry some nonetheless. The risk only is for injury, so if he plays well next season and emerges healthy, then the Redskins actually benefit -- they would save about $3 million from what they would have to pay him with the franchise tag (if there’s no long-term deal). But in the worst-case scenario for the Redskins, if Griffin -- who has an injury history -- plays poorly, ends the season hurt and can’t pass the season-ending physical, then the Redskins would be on the hook for $16.2 million. If he plays well and gets hurt? Then it won’t matter. Taking offensive lineman Brandon Scherff fifth overall and bypassing defensive lineman Leonard Williams also carries some risk -- what if Williams really was the best defensive player in this draft? However, if Scherff plays well at right tackle, then it’s really hard to argue the move, and the fact that they addressed this position was crucial.
Rebuilding the defense: The Redskins did a nice job of rebuilding their defense, breathing energy into a unit that did not play disciplined, had not been fortified enough in recent years and needed change. Adding nose tackle Terrance Knighton was pivotal; the move gave them a big run-stopper in the middle (they ranked 19th in yards per carry on first down, when they were more apt to be in their base formation, last season). End Stephen Paea, with a combination of quickness and excellent hands, is a nice fit in their one-gap system up front. But the player who can help as much as any is cornerback Chris Culliver. He is a legitimate starter, one who does not botch assignments and gives the safeties someone they can trust. The safeties do remain a question mark -- was Dashon Goldson just a bad fit in Tampa Bay? Or did the Bucs trade him because they felt he was done?
Training camp outlook: The Redskins had a good offseason, but they still face plenty of question marks at two of the most important spots in any organization: coach and quarterback. Jay Gruden received more help in the front office and made changes to his staff, but he must show he can now help a team improve on a four-win season. Griffin, too, has a lot to prove after two lackluster seasons, which included a benching in 2014. But unlike years past, the Redskins invested in other parts of their team -- like the defense -- that can help them improve even if Griffin falters. The Redskins addressed issues at right tackle and in their secondary (whether they’re solved remains to be seen). Their defensive front is much deeper than a year ago and they have good, young talent to develop along the offensive line. The Redskins can feel good about their offseason, but it’s up to Gruden and Griffin to help them feel a lot better.