Q & A: Former Scout and GM Jr's Russ Lande

Warpath Insiders
Posted Feb 25, 2008


Lande, who spent three years as a scout for the Cleveland Browns, is the publisher of GM Jr., which produces an annual draft guide. He also contributes to the Sporting News.

Q: Does the extended coaching search put the Redskins behind in their draft preparation?

A: In all honesty, in many respects it probably helps. I’m of the opinion that unless you have coaches dedicated to watching film and evaluating players on film most of the time coaches don’t help the draft process. If they are dedicated they can be fantastic. Bruce Arians, Terry Robiskie were home runs. A lot of guys make decisions based on what they hear and how guys do in all-star games and they don’t watch game film to see how good they are. So I don’t think it’s a big negative that the Redskins did this late.

Q: What do you think the Redskins need?

A: They could use a pass rusher, no question that’s been one of the problems for two or three seasons. They don’t have a guy consistently get to the quarterback. Andre Carter has been inconsistent. On the offensive line they can use some help. Samuels is a great player and Kendall had a solid year. Heyer is best as a backup; Fabini is near the end. Rabach is solid at center but they could use someone there to give more power and athleticism along the line. They’re OK at receiver with Moss and Randle El, but a third guy wouldn’t hurt. Linebacker probably wouldn’t be a bad spot to add. Godfrey is about 700 years old; Blades is not effective outside and London is Blades but 10 years older. Doughty isn’t a great safety but I think they’ll realize he’s solid and can do a lot of things. When you pair him with Landry, it’s a better than average pair of safeties. Landry is dynamic and Doughty is a physical presence. If I were them, I’d look at a young corner because you can never get enough of them.

Q: Does their draft strategy change because they’re going to the West Coast offense?

A: Unless you’re comfortable with McCardell, they need to find a third guy. The West Coast requires bringing in a third guy and when you look at their offense, they need to make sure they’re set at tackle. The West Coast is a lot of quick hitting passes and a lot of slants. They need the tackles and guards to be good. If not, that quick slant is tough if you’re getting barreled into the quarterback’s line. Samuels is fine and Kendall can play a few more years.

Q: In the first couple rounds, where is the draft the strongest?

A: There are a lot of good offensive tackle and a lot of good receivers. There aren’t a lot in the top-10 picks, but from the middle of the first round to the end of the fourth, there are a lot of good receivers. Some of them will flop, but a good amount of good starting receivers will come out of this draft. Corner is a deep position. It’s not as great at the top so no one jumps out like a Terenece Newman. But from the middle of the first round to the middle of the third, there are a lot of good prospects. There’s a handful of outside linebackers and a bunch of defensive linemen – both ends and tackles. The Redskins could get a legitimate defensive end in the second round.

Q: You typically can’t say that, can you?

A: It’s an uncommon year in that the strength of positions is odd. At some positions, like guard and center, there are none. But at end, there are six guys and at least four will pan out and be legitimately good starters and three or four guys after them have a chance of being good starters. If they want to get a pass rusher, it’s a good year to do it.

Q: Who might be there at 21?

A: Phillip Merling from Clemson is a good player. The only negative for him for the Redskins is that he’s sort of like Phil Daniels; he’s not an explosive player who will zip guy guys. He’s more a big physical guy who gets there through precision moves, effort, strength and competitiveness. Merling can be a good fit for them considering what they like to do and how they like to play. They have Carter, so Merling could back up both positions and when the time comes a year or two from now he could step in and replace Daniels.

Q: Will the Redskins philosophy change without Joe Gibbs there?

A: It will definitely be affected by Joe not being there and I don’t think for the good. Joe was not only a legend, but he knows how a draft has to be run. Even if he wasn’t always the one making the call at least he was around and sees how it’s going and that it needs to be done successfully. Without him, there will be trouble. It’ll be harder for them to consistently draft correctly.

Q: Why is that?

A: I’m not trying to knock people, but they don’t have anyone running the show who has ever been a GM or director where they drafted over and over and hit home runs. Now this coach comes in and Vinny has the power. It’s not a real defined front office and that’s part of the problem. You don’t have to be great. You have to have the same people there long enough to be [in sync]. Look at the Giants and the Patriots. The longer people are together, the longer they can understand the strengths and weaknesses of the department, what the team needs are, how to put together the draft board and it’s also hard if you’re putting a new system in every year. My buddy with the Browns says it’s now easy for them because they eliminate so many players because of specific things you have to have to play their defense. That’s a big problem in Washington. When you turn over the coach, it means turning over the entire roster to find guys who fit that system. You look at their drafts and they haven’t done well. Landry was good, Blades may make it and Ecker may make it as a backup. The year before they did great with Rocky, Doughty, Montgomery and Golston. Those are four home runs. Other years unless it was a first-day player, they were wiped out and you can’t win unless you hit two a year from the second day. They don’t draft well on the second day.

Q: Who should they pick?

A: I had them taking Lawrence Jackson, the defensive end from USC. He’s a real good player. But he did not help himself at the Senior Bowl; he looked mechanical and methodical. I think it’ll come down to him or Calais Campbell, who would be a home run for them. He has the size of Daniels, but the athleticism of Andre Carter. He’s a freak of an athlete.

Q: So why would he be there?

A: There are similarities between he and Mario Williams. But the production on the field did not match the ability in the player. For one or two series a game he was like dynamite and blowing things up. For half of the series he was a good, solid player and for the other half it was like he didn’t even exist. He plays high a lot. He tends to look for the ball instead of bursting off the ball and looking where the ball is. But he’s a really gifted guy. He can move all over the line, which is so valuable. I don’t know if he’ll be there, but Lawrence would help too.

To order Russ Lande's GM Jr. guide, or for more information, visit GMJr.com



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