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Five Takeaways: Doug Williams' Pre-Draft Press Conference


Here's five takeaways from Washington Redskins Senior Vice President of Player Personnel Doug Williams' pre-draft press conference that took place on April 24, 2018.

1. Williams believes this year's draft has some strong areas. Additionally, he views last year's draft as an example of talent that can be acquired in later rounds.
The Redskins head into this week's draft with eight selections. After picking at No. 13 in the first round, Washington's second pick will come at No. 44 overall.

While Washington doesn't have a third-round selection following the trade to acquire Alex Smith, the team has one pick in the fourth round, two in the fifth round, one in the sixth round and two in the seventh round.

While most of the focus will be on the Redskins' first pick, Williams believe this is "a good class overall."

"We know there's some strong people in an area, whether or not it's cornerbacks, safeties, running backs," Williams said. "You know, linemen are down a little bit. Tackles are very valuable. There's some out there, might not be up top, but there's some out there. I think as a whole… Receivers, there's a bunch of receivers. You never know who's going to jump out at you. So at the end of the day, those are the chances you take when draft a guy."

Last year's class also proves that the Redskins can get production from later round talent, as every single member of Washington's eight-man draft class saw at least one regular season snap.

"You would like for all of them to come in and help you. Like last year, if you look at the roster, all [10] of our guys that we drafted last year played some portion of last season," Williams said. "Some of them contributed heavily. You take Jonathan [Allen], who got hurt who was really coming on, you take [Josh] Harvey-Clemons, [Montae] Nicholson, all those guys played a good amount of time last year. So at the end of the day, we look at last year as a very successful draft for us because they're all still here and they're contributing."

(Stephen Czarda)

2. The Redskins will operate under a "best player available" philosophy in this year's draft for very practical purposes.
Best Player Available is a phrase almost every general manager or front office member parrots around the NFL Draft. It's a philosophy that doesn't concern itself with the state of a team's roster dynamic. If the best player on a given draft board is available to be taken, you don't pass up on him because you might not have a specific need.

Williams said the Redskins will operate that way this year, precisely because a need may not be graded very high in comparison to the athletes still available on the board. For example, if the Redskins were to draft a running back with their first pick at No. 13, helping to fill a need, they may also be passing up on several players the room has graded higher.

That wouldn't happen under this philosophy.

"At the end of the day, I like this football team we got," Williams said. "Last year when I walked out of camp I thought we had a pretty good football team. I still feel the same way today. At the end of the day you get the best football player. And if that best football player is the guy that you want to plug and play, that's all right. But if that's the best football player that's going to help your team overall, I think that's the route you have to go."

A player's grade is tethered to his character off the field, too, which in large part is chronicled by the team's local scouts, who speak with a variety of sources regarding players they've followed over the last couple of years.

"When you talk about these road scouts, some of them are just like private eyes because they come back with information that is unbelievable," Williams said. "They come back with some very pertinent information and you find out that a lot of it is real. So you've got to give credit to the scouts, because they come back with all of this information on the character, the injuries and everything else. Because at the end of the day, being in-house most of the time, they are the ones that's credited with bringing it back to you so you can go over these players because you want to make sure, today's game, character does play a major part in the guy that you're going to pick, especially when you're talking about picking a guy high. There are some value picks and there are some guys that you might want to pick high that might not fit because of character, and if you knock them down a few rounds and hopefully they will learn their lesson and realize that you can't do some of the things you've been doing. That's if you pick them. But we try to stay away from bad character guys."

(Jake Kring-Schreifels)

3. The Redskins could still remain active in trades throughout draft weekend.
Washington's draft order has significantly changed over the last few months, as trades with the Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos and Cleveland Browns have moved the Redskins around in Rounds 3-6.

But the Redskins may continue to make deals throughout the weekend.

"Well, let me say this, the chances of trading up might be a little slimmer than trading down, but at the same time, you've got to have somebody to trade with, and I don't think you go into it saying, 'I'm going to trade down,'" Williams said. "And we're not trying to recoup the third-round pick. I just said we had the best third-round pick in the draft, that third-round with Alex. I think at the same time, we've got phones that are in that room, if they ring, you've got guys calling all the time and want to know, 'Do you want to come up or do you want to go back?' But it all depends on who's there when they're calling you. They don't just call you to ask you.

"There might be a player that they want at that particular time that they're afraid that somebody else is going to pick and they might call you to ask you, 'Do you want to move back?' But we would have to call somebody to say we want to move up."

Williams added that the Redskins may have been more inclined to move from the No. 13 pick had they not solidified the quarterback position.

"At this point, I think where we are, if we [weren't] in the quarterback business, which that's what this league is all about, if we [were] in the heavy quarterback business, we'd talk about moving up, but at this time, we just sit back and find out what's going to come to us if we stay at 13," Williams said. "But if we move back, it's because somebody called us to ask do we want to move back."

(Stephen Czarda)

4. Drafting a running back is still a considerable option for the Redskins if the right player is available.
Since the beginning of the NFL Combine, Williams has expressed that the Redskins would add another running back to the unit. After a season in which nearly the entire running back depth chart suffered an injury – even those who replaced starters – acquiring more depth and another explosive option in the backfield seems to be a priority.

That feeling hasn't changed as the Redskins approach the NFL Draft this week. Of course, finding the right one might be challenging depending on how the first round unfolds. Williams still believes in the team's current group but knows if the right back becomes available, his confidence in the roster won't prevent him from strengthening it.

"I feel pretty good about the running backs," Williams said. "We didn't do exactly the way we wanted to, and, yes, everybody wants to upgrade. We want to upgrade everywhere we could. Running back is place that we always say we need a little more help. But if everybody is healthy and these guys coming back… [Samaje] Perine for his second year, Rob Kelley healthy and Chris Thompson is by far the guy that we need to be healthy to make this a great corps of running backs. But at the same time, if during the draft there's a player that we feel like can come in and plug in who's going to help us, we have no problem with that."

The scenarios throughout the course of Thursday night could vary drastically. Williams remembered last year as a prime example, with the Redskins taking Jonathan Allen at No. 17 when he was expected to be selected in the Top-10.

"When you're in that seat at 13, number one, you sit there and you just watch the draft as it goes. And you've got your guys that you'd like to have. You've got about six or seven guys on that board that you're hoping is there when you get there. If you lose one, you put another one up. If you lose another one, you put another one up, so when you get to your turn, you know, a couple minutes out, what have you, you sit there and you have your little pow wow and you come up with the player that you're going to pick out of that group."

(Jake Kring-Schreifels)

5. The Redskins like how the depth shakes out currently at the tight end position.
While there's a few high-end prospects at the position this year, Williams said the team has three tight ends they can rely on during the 2018 season.

That starts with Pro Bowler Jordan Reed, who missed 10 games last season with various injuries and didn't look quite right in the six games that he played.

When Reed was absent last year, Vernon Davis stepped in to remain productive despite being in his 12th season. In total, Davis recorded 43 receptions for 648 yards and three touchdowns.

And while Niles Paul departed in free agency to join the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Redskins have confidence that Jeremy Sprinkle can take a step up in production in 2018.

"Vernon is the best looking 34-year-old you've ever seen on a football field, let me say that," Williams said. "But, no, we've got Sprinkle from last year and we feel good about where Jordan Reed is as far as his health. I think he's going to be a lot better this year than he was last year.

"Him being in the building and talking to him, he feels the same way. He's confident that he's going to be ready to go. Like you say, he's one of the best in the business in this league at what he does."

(Stephen Czarda)

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