Here's five takeaways from Redskins head coach Jay Gruden's one-on-one with Redskins.com on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2017, from Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala.
1. For coaches, this is the very beginning of the draft road.
Head coach Jay Gruden won't have a great sense of the college prospects competing in Mobile, Ala., until the end of the week, and even then he'll be watching limited tape. But his presence each year allows him the chance to see players up close and personal.
"This is my first look at them, so I'm excited to see these guys run around at practice, see how they handle themselves on the practice field," Gruden said on Tuesday. "We get all the practice tape anyway, we go back and dissect all the practice tape and all the games that they've played in so this is just the very beginning of our evaluation process."
With several quarterbacks expected to be drafted in the first round, each coach and front office will have different measurements for for ranking them. For Gruden, the first evaluation is mostly about analyzing intangible qualities.
"It's hard but you can still see a skillset there on practice tape, and then you come out here, we're lucky enough to see them out here," he said. "You get to see them spin it in person, see how they handle themselves, how they handle the snap count, all of that, their leadership skills in person. You get a lot of tape to look at, you get a lot of Combine, Pro Day, so this is just the very beginning."
2. The Redskins will be light at tackle when spring practices commence.
Regardless of who is at quarterback for the Redskins in 2018, Washington will be missing a few of their most important pieces along the offensive line.
Both Trent Williams and Morgan Moses are in the recovery stages of their recent surgeries. Williams went under the knife for the first time in his career in late December to repair a knee injury while Moses had a surgical operation on his right ankle.
Gruden said both are in good spirits, but with uncertain timetables for backups T.J. Clemmings and Ty Nsekhe, OTAs could be shorthanded.
"They're on track to make a full recovery," Gruden said of Williams and Moses. "We're going to be short tackles in OTAs that's for sure with T.J. Clemmings out and Morgan and Trent and Ty Nsekhe's going to be out for a while, so we'll have to make due somehow but we need those four guys back."
3. Zach Brown was impressive in his first year but he's letting the front office handle free agent matters.
One of the bigger free agent boons for the Redskins this year was linebacker Zach Brown, who would have likely led the league in tackles had he not missed the final three games of the season with an injury. When he was healthy, he was a dynamic athlete, with his speed the most attractive trait.
"I was impressed," Gruden said of him. "I think what we thought we were getting we got, and we got a very athletic guy that can run sideline to sideline and make some plays. He got hurt there a little bit at the end of the season unfortunately for him but he had a solid year.
"He's a guy that it's hard to replace his type of speed. We also have other free agent linebackers we're trying to get in Mason Foster and Will Compton's a free agent, Vigil came in and stepped in very nicely at middle linebacker, we still have Spaight, so we've got a lot of linebackers there but we do like Zach Brown's speed and athleticism."
In terms of engaging in free agency talks, Gruden will defer to Senior VP of Football Operations Eric Schaffer, who is determining what the team should do over the coming months.
"Eric Schaffer's going to do a great job trying to get the guys back that we want and some of those guys are going to try the free agent market," Gruden said. "We'll see what happens but we intend to try to make it run with the guys that we want, the core group of our football team we feel is sound, solid, we don't want to lose too many guys but we understand that free agency is a business and it'll happen, but hopefully we'll keep some of our guys back."
4. Gruden is looking forward to an offseason with the same coaches.
Only one coach has left the team this year – assistant offensive line coach Kevin Carberry, taking over the head offensive line job at Stanford – providing continuity for head coach Jay Gruden and the rest of the staff.
Last season, the Redskins replaced both coordinator positions as well as the defensive backs, defensive line and strength and conditioning coaches, and bringing in new assistants as well. This year will he have much more stability.
"I think we've made some changes over the last couple of years and I think it'd be nice to go into a season with the same staff," Gruden said. "Carberry we're very excited about. He had the chance at Stanford to be an offensive line coach, but to try and have some continuity here with the staff I think is going to be important for here, so we'll give that a shot and see if we can make improvements."
5. Jonathan Allen's time was limited but impactful last season.
The team's first-round pick last year played only five games in his rookie season before he injured his Lisfranc and was placed on Injured Reserve. Still, the small sample size provided Gruden and the Redskins enough to be excited about.
Allen finished with 10 tackles and sack but his real attribute was being a force up the middle alongside interior lineman Matt Ioannidis. The two of them worked nicely in tandem as pass rushers and provided a window into the team's future at defensive line, along with second-year lineman Anthony Lanier II, who came on strong to finish the year.
"I see everything. He's the total package, he can play the run, he's strong, he's physical, he's a great kid, he works extremely hard, there's really not a negative when I look at Jonathan Allen," Gruden said. "I wish he wasn't injured, maybe, that's it. But overall I think he's a great prospect. He's going to be a heck of a Redskin for a very long time."