Head Coach Ron Rivera and Vice President of Player Personnel Kyle Smith

 

Head Coach Ron Rivera and Vice President of Player Personnel Kyle Smith

 

On trading T Trent Williams:

KS: “Obviously, with the [T] Trent [Williams] stuff, it’s been a long process. You know, I think everybody is a little bit, you guys as well, think we’re all relieved that it’s over, that it’s done. From day one that we got into this, it’s a unique situation, where, a lot of different layers to it, and we did the best that we could. We opened it up to the agent to find a partner and all that stuff and finally, we’re to the point where it’s over, and we’re all moving in our own direction. We wish him the best, and I think [Head] Coach [Ron Rivera] does as well, and we’re moving forward.”

 

On the feelings behind moving on from OT Trent Williams:

RR: “You know one of the things that we talked about when I first got here was talk about a sustainable winning culture. You know, again, one of the things that we wanted was just to have guys that were going to be part of it from the beginning. And again, just, this was an opportunity for us to part ways with a guy that wanted to move forward which is great. I get that, I understand that, but again, we’re going to do things a specific way. That’s the whole idea about what we’re doing is we’re going to build this culture with the guys that want to be here, the guys that want to be a part of what we’re doing, so we can go forward, and just feel good about where we are. And this was something that you know, it gives everybody an opportunity to start clean, start fresh. You guys know what I said in the first meeting, and we’re going forward from here.”

 

On the choice to select T Saahdiq Charles:

KS: “Yeah no we’re very excited about Saahdiq [Charles]. We’ve done a lot of work on him. Obviously as you guys know, I mean you can look it up and stuff, there was the suspension there and he made a mistake, and he’s made mistakes in his past there at LSU, so once we come through with guys like this throughout the Fall and you gather all the character in the background, then you start to dive in. Right? You watch the tape, and you find out what is he as a player, what’s the talent level, and that’s what we always go off of when we put them on the board. He’s a high talent player. Tremendous talent, tremendous upside. Obviously, he was there in the fourth round for a reason, we dove into this kids character in a big way. With our area scout, with our cross checker, Coach Rivera, myself, [Senior Director of Player Development] Malcom Blacken our player development. I had a long meeting the other day with him on Zoom. We feel very confident in the kid, we’re comfortable with everything, the research that we’ve done. And we’re really excited for the kid, I know he is too. He’s got a chip on his shoulder, he understands why he was taken where he was. We’re excited about the structure that we’re going to give this kid, the culture that Coach was talking about that we’re going to provide this kid. And we’re excited to give him an opportunity with the Redskins.”

 

On the importance of this draft weekend:

RR: “Well I think the biggest thing more so than anything else was going out and drafting the young men that we believe can be a part of what we want to do. Grow with this as we go forward. I mean, these young guys we took with our first few picks, the guys we expect to be here, the guys we expect to be a part of what we’re building. The next group of guys we expect to grow and develop and have them become a part of what we’re doing. So, we feel real confident, real strong about it and it’s important. It’s important to put your own stamp on it so that guys understand we have a certain way we want to do it, we’re going to ask you to do it the way that you’re coached. We’re going to ask you to play the way that we have mapped things out, you know, to do it our way. And if you do that, believe me, I believe we can have a lot of success. And if you do it our way or you don’t, I’ll take the brunt of it, I’ll take the blame. Because again, I’m asking them to do it a specific way. And that’s the most important thing, and I hope everybody understands that.”

 

On how RB Antonio Gandy-Gates will contribute to the team:

RR: “Well he’s a big, physical receiver. I mean, he’s got good size, good speed, good play speed, he’s a physical player. He’s a guy that can make his presence felt. We believe in the red zone, certain short yardage. Third and intermediate, third and three, third and seven, something like that a guy that can work the middle for you. He can block, he’s a guy that we feel can be a very physical blocker. He’s got special teams value as well. So that’s how we think a guy like that’s going to develop and grow and be a guy that can help impact and participate in what we’re trying to do.”

 

On not drafting a tight end:

KS: “Yeah no, I think it goes back to what we talked about before, Coach and I about the board. You follow a board, and you kind of go and let the board speak to you. The tight end position, we did address. We added in free agency with [TE] Logan [Thomas]. So, we’re excited about him and his upsides. Obviously, [TE] Thaddeus Moss we are bringing in as well as an undrafted free agent so he’ll be added to that mix. But it’s not something that, the way we want to move forward when, letting the board speak to you, is you don’t want to force things. We’re always going to have needs and positions of focus, but you don’t want to force it. That’s when you start riding guys up the board and in my opinion, and in Coach’s opinion, you start making mistakes. When we add a tight end or any position, it’s based off of that board.”

 

On the possible injury of TE Thaddeus Moss:

KS: “Yeah well the injury stuff, we’ll let [Head Athletic Trainer Ryan Vermillion] handle that stuff, but he was injured yes. That’s why he didn’t perform at the Combine, but everything that we’ve gotten from our medical staff we feel comfortable with and we’ll monitor that whenever the time comes that he’s able to come with us.”

 

On how this draft class will improve the team’s versatility:

RR: “Well again, you know, when you start talking about [RB] Antonio Gibson, [T] Saahdiq Charles, guys that can play multiple positions. Saahdiq [Charles] has played left and right tackle and has played some guard. Again, this is a guy that’s going to compete, he’s going to compete on the left side, left tackle and left guard for us. He’s a guy that has a chance to contribute early on, and quite frankly, because we’re starting over, we’re starting from the beginning, everything is on the table. Every opportunity for anybody to come in and play is here. We are going to play the guys that we believe give us the best opportunity to win football games. That’s what you want. You want guys that can come in and contribute that way. [C Keith] Ismael is a guy that can play center guard for us. You know, [LB Khaleke Hudson is a linebacker that has some opportunity to go out and play in space. [S] Kamren [Curl] is a safety that started at corner so he’s got cover skills, so he may be able to come down into the slot and cover receivers. That’s something that we have to find out. And [DE] James Smith Williams has got enough stout in us that not only could he be an outside edge guy, but he can come down every now and then and probably play as a three technique for you. You feel good about those kind of guys, because again, they’re not pigeon-holed into one position and one position only. There’s an opportunity for us to find ways to use them, to get them on the field. And that’s a way for the player to also try and use his talents to get on the field as much, as quickly as possible.”

 

On how much he expects to overhaul the roster in his first season as head coach:

RR: “Well we’re about to find out. This roster, as I said when I first got her, I really like what I had seen. You look at the guys who have contributed on this team from the last three drafts, you feel pretty confident and comfortable and you can add some key veteran guys and young guys that continue to develop, I think the turnaround can be a little bit quicker than expected, at least I expected. What I’m hoping is these guys can contribute and grow with the guys that are already here who have been contributing. Again, going through this process and having to look at the last three drafts and going through this process with [Vice President of Player Personnel] Kyle [Smith] and his guys there were a lot of positive things that I really took from this and I’m really excited about. Hopefully we’ll get our opportunity to work with these guys.”

 

On what T Saahdiq Charles showed him to be able to draft him:

RR: “For him to have to come back [to LSU], he was going to have to stay clean and finish the season. Talking with [LSU Head] Coach [Ed] Orgeron, he was very positive about how the young man came in and the way contrite about the mistake he had made, about doing things the right way and trying to learn. One thing that really caught my attention was he had made the statement that when you have something taken away from you, you want it back, you want to do it the right way. That really swayed me. I’m one of those that do believe you do give guys opportunities, especially if they show that they want it and this is a young man that wants it. He’s going to be watched, he’s going to be on a short leach. At the same time, we have [Senior Director of Player Development] Malcom Blacken, who has done a great job from what I’ve seen, and then watching him communicating, while we had the opportunity, but also knowing the fact that he had the chance to talk to this young man, even though it was only on Zoom, he spent a good 45 minutes with him, I felt pretty comfortable in listening what Malcom had to say. This is a young man that, obviously, we feel has a tremendous skill set, but he’s a young man who has a bit of an issue that we’re trying to control and help him out with. Again, hopefully we keep him going where he needs to be and that’s straight ahead.”

On balancing versatile players versus ones who have specific talents:

RR: “The biggest thing is you want to make sure the guy has a primary function. What does he do best? Again, a great example right now is [Tackle] Saahqid Charles did best in college is play left tackle, so that’s where he’ll start out, at left tackle. Because he’s over there, we’re always cross training our backups, so he’ll ewok at left guard as well. So it’ll be an opportunity to see what his skill set is and see how versatile he truly is and it’ll also help him learn. One thing I always believed in is if you know what the guy next to you is supposed to do, it’s going to help you do your job and that’s how we try to help grow our young [players].”

 

On signing Tight End Thaddeus Moss and what they saw in him:

KS: “[Tight End] Thaddeus [Moss] was a productive guy this year. He had a nice season, he has really nice hands and ball skills, he’s a tough kid that competes in the run game so those qualities when you’re signing priority free agents, you need to have two qualities that really stand out and those are it and that’s what we base stuff off of and we’re excited. Playing at LSU, big time football, big time season. It was really no brainer to sign him as a PFA.”

 

On Kyle’s elevated role and how they did with all the challenges of a virtual draft:

KS: “That’s a great question. The other day I was saying that I feel like my role hasn’t changed drastically over the last three years from this process. When [Head] Coach [Ron] Rivera came in, he said ‘ I want you to kind of do everything that you’ve been doing the last few years and run it how you feel comfortable, and then we’ll adjust from there.’ So really, that process when it comes to the college stuff has been the same. Now, when you add – obviously what you guys are dealing with and we’re dealing with it – the virtual stuff, that was really the biggest challenge. How can we all be on the same page and communicate and get the board set under these circumstances? And that’s something that honestly Asheesh Kinra and Christian Smith, our IT guys, they made this stuff really easy and smooth for us because they set all these gadgets and gizmos up in our places that we had no idea how to use and Coach and I had conversations like this everyday and it was like sitting in the same room. So at the end of the day, after a few days of going through this stuff, it was like being back in the office. I think the process was great. Process is always about the people and Coach and I have a great relationship, and it’s easy, it’s smooth. We’re on the same page – [Defensive Coordinator Jack] Del Rio and [Offensive Coordinator Norv] Turner – I’ve been very happy with how easily we’ve meshed after not knowing each other for a long time and that’s what made our process very smooth. It’s about the people and communicating, and you can’t go wrong when you do it that way.”

 

On how this process has been unique:

RR: “I thought it was a real cool experience, I really did. I mean, there were moments – the frustration of not being able to be in our own facility and work it, but again just knowing that the support people that we had were terrific. Everything starting with the IT stuff to our Director of Football Operations, these guys went above and beyond in terms of trying to help us prepare ourselves. But the experience itself has been unique. Obviously, I’d been through something completely different my first time as a head coach with the work stoppage, but at least we got to during the draft process go out and watch players, work players out, bring players to our facility. This time we didn’t, we had to rely on technology and use technology to the best of our abilities, which was at some times very frustrating. But again, as [Vice President of Player Personnel] Kyle [Smith] said, our IT guys were terrific. The unique thing about this too was getting to know people from the standpoint that you didn’t really have the up close interaction. That was interesting because, again, part of this process too is trying to interview these guys, trying to get them off their comfort zone and trying to get them to react and act differently. That was a little bit of a trial and error as well, but overall it worked very well. It was kind of neat having the family around, having my wife involved, our two dogs and then our daughter Courtney, who’s actually doing our social media stuff for the team, so we were able to give a little behind the scenes stuff to our fans, which I thought was kind of a unique thing as well.”

 

On DE Chase Young’s participation in a Wale song and whether he’d ever consider being a part of a Wale song:

RR: “You know, the thing about that whole thing is that if guys can keep their personality and be who they are, and do it within the right framework of being the right kind of young man, then do it. Do those things and do them the right way. That to me I things is cool because again a guy that can do all these things and stay focused when he has to be focused, that’s important and I think [Defensive End] Chase [Young] is one of those guys. As far as being in one of his tracks, I really don’t have any musical talent, to be honest. The only thing I really, truly like to do is focus on football.”

On whether he feels like they addressed depth on the offensive line with C Keith Ismael:

RR: “Yes, we do. He’s a center/guard combination, a young man that can help with one or two positions for us. We always feel good about that. He’s a young football player – [Center] Keith Ismael out of San Diego State – just a stout, physical football player, a smart football player that had a really good test score as well. We just feel confident when you add those kinds of young men that have that kind of ability. Again, it really is about trying to fill those needs, but again letting the board speak to you. And I’ll say this too, I really thought Kyle did a great job, just watching him handle it. The input that I gave really was about when it came time for selection, but he was monitoring things, constantly throwing things out, ideas, thoughts, communicating, which I thought was really important. When the decisions were made, he was on board or he was pushing for this and that’s exactly what you need is a guy who’s going to tell you what you need to hear and not necessarily what you want.”

 

On the compensation they received for T Trent Williams:

KS: “With the trade compensation, at the end of the day – we’ve said this for a long time – you determine compensation by your eyes as a scout or a coach, and that’s what you watch on tape. [Tackle] Trent Williams is a first-round value, that’s what he is, that’s what the tape tells you, that’s what everybody knows. This circumstance and everything that has gone into this for two years or whatever it’s been, that’s what’s devalued him. At the end of the day for the Washington Redskins, what we got with a fifth and third, we’re happy with what we got and it’s time to move on and we’re ready to move forward. I can’t wait, personally, to stop talking about it. I can’t wait to stop hearing about it and I’ve been here for a while. Since [Head] Coach [Ron Rivera] showed up here, we made it very clear that, as an organization, anybody that has a year left on their contract we’re going to wait and see how you mesh with the coaching staff. And I think that’s pretty fair, personally, that, out of respect for the player, let’s see how we jive, let’s see how we mesh before we extend somebody for four years or three years or whatever the case may be. I think that’s pretty fair. But at the end of the day, we got what the Washington Redskins wanted and that’s what’s fair compensation to us. This is resolved, it’s over, we’re moving forward, we’re excited about the draft, we’re excited about our picks and we’re ready to roll.”

 

On whether there was a time where they had to resolve differing opinions on picks:

RR: “I don’t think there really was just because of the way the board was set. As things started to fall, the board was very, very accurate, very close to being very, very accurate. So really, as we got to our picks there was that clump of guys, the three or four guys that we would talk about and one guy would be above the three of four of them and that was the guy we went with. Again, as I said, I really thought that the things that [Vice President of Player Personnel] Kyle [Smith] and his guys did in terms of preparation, I thought the readings that we did over Zoom, were very good. I thought that the communication between Kyle and I as he was setting the final board was exactly what you look for because then as you go through the process you should see things quite close to one another. And again, it’s because we worked through the process. We didn’t go through this and not be prepared for that conversation. I thought we talked ourselves through a lot of things.”

 

KS: “Just to piggyback off that, sometimes people think that we come into the war room in the NFL and the board’s up there, the clock starts and you’re like ‘Who are we taking?’ We have a thorough process of two weeks in advance to where you have readings and you have all that stuff, and then once you talk to coaches and scouts you have a pretty good idea of everybody’s final opinion. You set the board across and then as decision makers, [Head] Coach [Ron Rivera] and I get together and it’s like ‘We know this cluster of players is going to be there. Which way are we going?’ and obviously we know what positions we want and what are the focus positions – boom, boom, boom, you go through all those scenarios so that when we come to here, when you get your five, six names you already kind of have a feeling of what you want to do. Same thing with medical meetings, you meet with medical people, they explain what the grades are so you know when you go into the draft these guys are off the board, these guys are on the board, these guys are safe. You’re recapping and you’re moving forward, so it makes stuff very quick and efficient.”

 

RR: “Also to follow up, one of the things that we did do was we had a couple of mocks that we mocked through with our entire group and with our IT guys, and we tried to do it over the system just to see how it would work. We had no issues. We had one with the league and we had two of our own. The last one we did took us through the fourth round, so we worked on a mock of trades, we worked on a mock of trading out of position and I thought the guys handled that very well. It gave us a little taste as to what to expect and it went very, very well, it really did. It went about as smooth as we could’ve expected and hoped for, and again kudos to our IT guys.”