Redskins' Gibbs eyes draft with tunnel vision

April 19, 1991|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Correspondent

HERNDON, Va. -- Mention Kitty Kelley's name to Joe Gibbs and you get a blank stare.

Mention Dan McGwire's name and his eyes light up as he launches into an evaluation of the San Diego State quarterback.

It's wasn't surprising that the coach of the Washington Redskins admitted yesterday that he never has heard of the author of the unauthorized biography of Nancy Reagan.

After all, the annual college draft is Sunday, and Gibbs is noted for excluding the outside world when he's focusing on football.

Especially this year. This is the year the Redskins have a first-round draft choice for the first time since 1983 and only the fourth time since 1968.

During the two decades of the George Allen and Bobby Beathard regimes, they built a reputation for wheeling and dealing.

But times are changing at Redskin Park. The baton has been passed to general manager Charley Casserly, and the Redskins have a different philosophy. Casserly, who'll be running his second draft Sunday, doesn't want to trade the first-round pick.

Casserly is quick to say he's not second-guessing what Beathard did. "I agreed with all those trades," he said.

But the trades haven't been productive recently, especially the moves giving up No. 1 picks in 1988 and 1989 for linebacker Wilber Marshall and a first in 1990 and second in 1989 for running back Gerald Riggs.

Giving up the two firsts for Marshall meant the Redskins couldn't take running back Ickey Woods with the 27th pick in 1988, even though Beathard liked him. He went on the 31st pick to the Cincinnati Bengals. If the Redskins had gotten Woods, they wouldn't have needed to make the Riggs deal.

That means they could have had Woods, two first-round choices and a second instead of Marshall and Riggs.

Which explains why the Redskins are changing their strategy.

The trick now is for the Redskins to make a productive pick on the first round.

The three first-round picks Beathard did make (Art Monk in 1980, Mark May in 1981 and Darrell Green in 1983) all made the Pro Bowl.

"There's definitely a pressure for everybody in the organization because if you miss [on] that [pick], that's what you'll be writing about for a year or two. I think that's the pressure. He should be a guy who'll be an impact player and go to the Pro Bowl. If he's not, there's going to be criticism," Gibbs said.

Finding a Pro Bowl selection on the 20th pick in the draft -- especially in a draft that was depleted because eight juniors were selected on the first round last year -- won't be easy.

Casserly said the Redskins didn't want to zero in on one player at No. 20. They've put together a group of about five players, and they hope that at least one of them will be there. Gibbs said they hope to get a defensive player.

They know that cornerback Todd Lyght of Notre Dame, defensive lineman Russell Maryland of Miami, linebacker Mike Croel of Nebraska and safeties Eric Turner of UCLA and Stanley Richard of Texas will be gone. Louisville defensive lineman Ted Washington and Nebraska cornerback Bruce Pickens also aren't expected to last.

That leaves such players as Colorado linebacker Alfred Williams, Florida linebacker Huey Richardson, Mississippi defensive lineman Kelvin Pritchett and North Carolina safety Jesse Campbell as possibilities.

But if all the defensive players they like are gone, Casserly said, the Redskins would consider an offensive lineman or a wide receiver on the first round, although Gibbs ruled out taking a quarterback that high.

The Redskins brought Todd Marinovich of Southern Cal in for a workout, but his drug problem would make him a high-risk pick.

Although Gibbs may have somewhat more input than he did during the Beathard regime, Casserly still has the final say in the draft. Gibbs, though, isn't going to assess any blame for a bad picks.

"When we take a guy, it's going to be, 'We took him.' We're all on the hook," Gibbs said.

He then added, jokingly: "I'm very relaxed. I told Charley it's no big deal. If we get a bad guy, I'll just cut him. I'll tell Mr. [Jack Kent] Cooke it was Charley's fault."

NOTES: Casserly announced that the Redskins didn't renew the contracts of RBs Kelvin Bryant and Reggie Branch, who are both now free agents. Although Gibbs left the door open for the possibility that Branch might be brought back, the injury-prone Bryant no longer seems to fit in their plans. . . . The Redskins, who were unhappy about playing the New York Giants in the first half of the season for three straight years, were pleased that their two Giants games are the eighth and 15th games of the year in the schedule that was announced yesterday. They'll finish the season with games against the Giants and Eagles. . . . The Redskins will go into the draft with 11 picks.

Redskins' top picks


Yr. Player Rd. College

'90 LB Andre Collins 2 Penn State

'89 DT Tracy Rocker 3 Auburn

'88 PK Chip Lohmiller 2 Minnesota

'87 DB Brian Davis 2 Nebraska

'86 DE Marcus Koch 2 Boise St.

'85 CB Tory Nixon 2 San Diego St.

DT Bob Slater 2 Oklahoma

'83 CB Darrell Green 1 Texas A&I

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