Fans of teams inside the NFC West will have known of Scot McCloughan for many years by now. Spending the first thirteen years of the 2000's between the Seahawks and the 49ers in various front office roles, McCloughan helped to build two of the NFL's most talented rosters. He was involved in drafts that wielded Pro-Bowlers such as Frank Gore,Joe Staley, Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman and more. After a year away from the NFL to get his personal life under control, McCloughan found himself once more in an NFL front office - this time as general manager in Washington.
After a successful first season in the NFC East which saw him select four day-one contributors and win his division, McCloughan sat down with Bleacher Report's Jason Cole for a wide-ranging Q&A. The entire interview is really interesting and if you care to, you can read it here. Unsurprisingly, McCloughan and John Schneider follow similar philosophies when it comes to team building, so some major points of his interview will peak the interest of Hawks fans.
When asked about looking for guys in the draft that have the "it" factor, McCloughan mentioned how good of a job Schneider does in Seattle of identifying those types of players. The players that aren't just blue (perennial Pro-Bowlers) or red (really good players) prospects, but also know they are fifty-three deep, fighting together. In his first draft in Washington, McCloughan landed a potential 'blue' player - first round pick Brandon Scherff - as well as three red prospects - defensive end Preston Smith, wide receiver Jamison Crowder and running back Matt Jones. He singled out Scherff as a player that leads by example. And in Schneider's first draft? Two ‘blues' in Earl Thomas andKam Chancellor and two ‘reds' in Golden Tate and Russell Okung. Fast forward to 2016 and those ‘blues' remain two of the big voices in the Seahawks locker room.
Speaking on wide receiver Jamison Crowder, McCloughan mentioned how you can see fairly quickly on tape whether or not they're good enough, but it's sitting down and talking to the prospect to figure out whether or not the league will be too big for them that makes the difference. Thinking back to his first stint in Seattle, McCloughan compared him to former Seahawks receiver Bobby Engram. A player that doesn't have all the physical traits but is going to show up when you need him most.
McCloughan mentioned Bruce Irvin specifically when talking about players that have overcome adversity and that have the mental toughness to make it in the NFL, delivering this great quote: "It's like Bruce Irvin, who we took when I was in Seattle. He lived in his car for six months in high school. I mean, OK, he misses a sack, or we lose a game. For him, that's not going to affect him the same way as it affects somebody else."
And those last two sentences really nail the philosophy that Seattle fans have seen every draft in some form since Schneider and Pete Carroll took over. Building a culture with players that have been through the ringer is what enables a team to remain faithful in the process even when going down 31 points in a playoff game. Whether it's being overlooked by every team in several rounds, being told you're too small for your position or legal issues in your past keeping teams away, it builds the character that's brought Washington, the Seahawks and the 49ers success while McCloughan has had his fingerprints on those teams.
And the type of player that McCloughan hopes to add on April 28th? "Toughness, smarts, competitiveness, team." Sound familiar?