Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan sat down with the NFL Network crew at the Senior Bowl earlier this week and discussed the assessment process that takes place between now and the end of April.
Investing a draft pick, player salary, coaching time and organizational resources into a player is no small commitment, and Shanahan’s staff is meticulously collecting as much information as possible. After a week-long look at the best draft-eligible seniors, these are the criteria behind Shanahan’s drafting decisions:
1. Coach the players–how do they play?
2. See their work ethic and preparation–can they adjust?
3. Hour-long meetings everyday–how do they learn?
4. Interview coaches, watch film, watch workouts–what kind of a person are they?
5. Take your best-educated pick.
At the end of the day, hopefully it will work out (like Ryan Kerrigan)–but it might not:
On the topic of defensive ends that could make the switch to outside linebackers, Shanahan was asked about two prospects that he’s coached this week, in Melvin Ingram and Courtney Upshaw. The normally reserved head coach was effusive in his praise, calling both players “slam dunks.”
Too bad outside linebacker isn’t considered an area of strong need for the Redskins, who already have a dynamic tandem in “Ker-Rakpo.”
Perhaps the more important assessment could be a look at how Shanahan grades quarterbacks. He prefaces his comments by stating that every coach grades signal callers differently.
But he also notes that a bona fide franchise quarterback is more important than the system:
You can adjust your system to a quarterback, so if you see somebody that does something extremely well, you wanna have the flexibility in your offense in your offense, to run an offense that suits that quarterback.
I think everybody’s looking for that franchise quarterback, and if you don’t have one, you’re trying to find that guy.
For all of the reports of a given quarterback “fitting the Redskins’ offensive system” (I’ve counted no fewer than six reports of quarterbacks that the Redskins are allegedly “VERY interested” in), Shanahan is instead suggesting that the system is dependent on the guy under center. Not many would compare a quarterback like John Elway to a T.J. Yates, but they’ve both found success in the Shanahan offensive family tree.
If the Redskins spend a draft selection on a quarterback of the future under Shanahan, you can expect the offense to adjust in relation to that quarterback’s skill set. Don’t be fooled by a quarterback “fitting the Shanahan system”–if he’s good enough to play in Washington, Shanahan will make it work.