For the next five days, the people who know this game better than most will offer their opinions on a daily question. They qualify as experts: ESPN analyst Louis Riddick, who played in the NFL and served as a scout and then was director of pro personnel for two teams (Washington and Philadelphia); and ESPN NFL and college scout Matt Williamson, a former scout in the NFL. Throughout the week, they will answer questions on Scot McCloughan, Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins' defense among other topics. This isn't about finding wild views, it's about providing insight from men who know the game well, from multiple perspectives.
How much can one guy like Scot McCloughan affect an organization?
Louis Riddick: "It’ll all come down to not just what he knows, but what the rest of the scouts that he keeps or brings in also know, and how they can get all on the same page and then get him the information that he ultimately needs as a final decision-maker. He'll only be able to do that if he develops a relationship with Jay Gruden to where their communication is easy back-and-forth and always being able to talk about things without dealing with egos and agendas. You have to know when you bring in players that these are the ones the coaching staff will buy into and develop. It’s not as easy to say because of what he did or is given credit for in Seattle and San Francisco that he can duplicate it in Washington. There's a lot more to it, and all that will play into how much one guy is affecting the organization. It’ll never be about him. It’ll be about relationships with the scouting staff and coaching staff. If he does that then he has the chance to have his skills shine through."
Matt Williamson: "When I was at the Browns, Butch Davis and that crew hired me and they all got fired at the end of the season. Butch was fired even earlier, and Phil Savage took over and we were all on contract until the end of the draft. So we sat in a room with all new guys, too, and he inherited us, and after the draft said we’re all gone. This year you have to get through it, because he'll sit down with a bunch of scouts he inherited and he doesn’t know who to trust and who not to, and he doesn’t have time to scout his scouts. So they all make their reports and he has to believe who he believes, but it has to be a lot of hands-on stuff, and obviously he’ll bring his own [reports]. This draft really is on him, and then he’ll start bringing in guys he trusts and is familiar with. Familiarity is huge. When you’re down to the end and in war rooms and your southwest scout who has been with you for 15 years, and you know he likes X school more than he should, or you know he’s tougher with this school than he should be, maybe he grades running backs harder than the western scout. So you know his grades will be lower, but that might not be reflective compared to other scouts in the room. Or he’s especially hard on the defensive line, or maybe he played offensive line his whole life and specializes in those guys. You know [the scouts] as human beings and how they grade guys. It’s like teachers. If you know this one grades hard and you’re the principal and you know it, it makes sense that there were more Bs in this class than As. It doesn’t mean the students are worse."