Bill Polian on Scot McCloughan's drafts: 'Meat and potatoes'

It won’t be flashy and it might not produce immediately. The draft is supposed to lay a foundation for future success as much as provide help right away.

That’s what Scot McCloughan did in San Francisco and that’s why ESPN analyst and former NFL general manager Bill Polian thinks he’ll take the right approach in Washington. McCloughan’s drafts helped provide San Francisco with the core of a team that reached consecutive NFC Championship Games after he had left.

“The foundation for San Francisco was laid when he was there and it was sound and solid,” Polian said in a conference call. “It was meat and potatoes. Not a lot of flash and dash. Just good, solid football players who block and tackle and ran and were tough. You have to give him high marks for that.”

Polian also said he liked what McCloughan and the Redskins did in free agency. They clearly had an idea in mind of the sort of player they wanted: under 30, tough. They also traded for safety Dashon Goldson, who is 30 but can be cut with no penalty after the season.

In the past few years the Redskins have not spent wildly, but they haven’t always spent wisely – McCloughan did not want to sign free agents in their 30s, as the Redskins did a year ago with Jason Hatcher. His contract isn’t exorbitant but older players break down more often and, sure enough, a nagging knee injury plagued him all season. Maybe Hatcher produces this season, but the point is that McCloughan opted for younger players who are either just entering or still in their prime.

“They made wise decisions there,” Polian said. “I think the overall direction, you’ll have a better understanding and feel for it when we see what they did in the draft. But it's going to be meat and potatoes, which is the right way to go about it.”

Polian did not expand on meat and potatoes. I take that to mean sticking to the basics of their board and taking substance over highlights. It’s not as if every draft produced under McCloughan; his last two in San Francisco were bad (one of those 13 draftees remained on the roster last year, Michael Crabtree). But his first three produced the foundation of the eventual playoff teams – and five were on the roster last year. That’s quite good.