The NFL landscape has changed drastically since the end of the 2014 regular season, with several teams going down different paths by hiring new head coaches or general managers.
The Washington Redskins were no different, hiring Scot McCloughan as their general manager Jan. 8 and instantly adding a personnel executive with a proven track record of building powerhouses through the draft.
And of all the moves made in the past two-plus months, it's the Redskins' signing of McCloughan that caught Chris Mortensen's attention the most.
Mortensen, a Senior NFL Reporter with ESPN, said Friday that McCloughan was "maybe the most important offseason acquisition" of any franchise across the league.
"And I'm including head coaches in that mix," he said in a videocast hosted by outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
McCloughan joined the Redskins with more than 20 seasons of NFL experience as a team executive or scout. Most recently, he was credited with helping shape the rosters of the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers by finding gems in all rounds of the draft.
"Scot is well-known as a terrific talent evaluator, and it's not just the talent evaluators in the first round guys, but it's across the board," Mortensen said.
Mortensen, who has been covering the NFL Combine since 1987, said McCloughan's greatest challenge with the Redskins will be finding talented players who can be a good fit for the franchise.
"Talking to Dan Quinn, the former defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks and now the Falcons head coach, one of the things that John Schneider, the general manager of the Seahawks, told me is Dan's a really good evaluator," Mortensen recalled. "I said, 'Explain that.' He said, 'He can identify a person's strengths and say this is how we're going to use him opposed to looking at a person's weaknesses and saying wait a minute, we can't have that guy.' Look at his strengths. So, I think McCloughan is one of those guys who can do that, and I thought it was a huge hire."
Mortensen said building the back end of the roster is just as important for the Redskins as building its top end.
"I think building that back-end roster (is) a matter of your coaching staff," he said. "Are they good teachers? Developmental guys? Are your players attentive?"
With the Combine hitting its stride on Friday and continuing through Monday, Mortensen said he's already looking forward to the NFL Draft on April 30, which is being held this year in Chicago.
"I think in the way you look at the Seattle Seahawks and you say, well you saw where all the sudden they were hitting on the guys in the fifth, sixth and seventh round," Mortensen told Kerrigan, the 16th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. "The Patriots and the Seahawks I think had more undrafted guys on their rosters than anybody. So, we get excited the rounds like you [Kerrigan] were picked in, and those are the guys who are visible. But, the draft is a total body of work and the headliners are headliners, and we're going to talk about it forever until somebody drops saying, 'I can't take it anymore.'"