Gibbs giddy over opporunity to pick 'first' Redskins notebook

April 19, 1991|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Evening Sun Staff

HERNDON, Va. -- Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs found something to laugh about in almost everything yesterday.

That's how it is four days before the NFL college draft, when your team has its first first-round pick since 1983.

And that's how it is when the coach says the team isn't really hurting at any one position.

"Last year, we needed defenders so badly we were talking them up among ourselves, making them out to be better than they were," Gibbs said. "But this time, I don't think we have a glaring need. We can take the best person available, though we'd still probably prefer a defender."

Though he was in a jovial mood, Gibbs admitted drafting in the first round -- the Skins have the No. 20 pick -- is "definitely a pressure" on everyone in the organization.

"Our last three No. 1's have gone to the Pro Bowl," Gibbs said, referring to cornerback Darrell Green (1983), tackle Mark May (1981) and wide receiver Art Monk (1980). "When you're picking 20th, you don't know who's going to be there, but you know you have to get an impact player who will go to the Pro Bowl. If you don't, you know you're going to get criticism from everywhere."

Gibbs said the Redskins have a short list of players, and are hoping at least one will still be available when it comes their turn.

"If they're not," Gibbs said, "we'll panic. We think we have a chance at getting one, but we're nervous about it."

Asked if he would consider drafting a quarterback, Gibbs said probably not with the first-round pick, though he didn't totally rule it out.

"Our own quarterback situation is exciting, with all our young guys," said the coach. "We have [Mark] Rypien, who is our starter, and it will be enjoyable watching how much he improves, seeing if he stays healthy and finding out if he can take us to the Super Bowl. And then we have [Stan] Humphries, [Jeff] Rutledge and Gary Conklin, all guys who can step up.

"The only question about them is our guys have not taken us all the way."

Which is why, Gibbs said, he is still looking at quarterbacks like Southern Cal's Todd Marinovich (whom Gibbs worked out), San Diego State's Dan McGwire and Southern Mississippi's Brett Favre.

* UNLIKELY CHOICES: Redskins general manager Charley Casserly said it is unlikely the team would draft a punter, though they want Kelly Goodburn to have competition in training camp . . . Gibbs said if the Redskins draft an offensive lineman or a wide receiver, everyone should assume the guy's either great or the best pick left.

* SO LONG BRYANT: Running backs Kelvin Bryant and Reggie Branch were allowed to become free agents this week. Casserly said they were the only two who were not sent the required April 15 notification of the team's desire to retain them.

"Reggie's situation isn't solidified yet," Gibbs said of the back who underwent ankle surgery last season. "We'll wait until he's ready to run for us and then make a decision.

"As for Kelvin, I know he still wants to play and I think there are some teams out there who will give him the opportunity."

* MINI-CAMP SPECIAL: Since a new agreement between the NFL and the NCAA prevents NFL teams from spending the month of May working with their new draft choices, the Redskins are planning a two-week cram course June 1-15.

"There is no way to circumvent the rule," said Gibbs. "The agreement is designed to make sure these guys are in school in May."

Gibbs hesitated when asked his opinion of the new ruling, but then said: "If I had a chance to make a couple million dollars in the NFL, I'd be unhappy with a rule that kept me from a month of training that would help me be on better footing with veterans when training camp starts."

* THE ZOLAK QUESTION: Maryland quarterback Scott Zolak got mixed reviews yesterday from the Redskins. Gibbs said he had not worked out Zolak and was not very familiar with him.

But Casserly, while noting that Zolak played only one season as a starter, described the 6-foot-5, 221-pounder as "as interesting prospect.

"He has all the skills," Casserly said. "I think a lot of people would have liked to see what he could do in a four-year college career. Now, it's a question mark."

Redskins schedule

)

Sept. 1 Detroit, 8 p.m.

Sept. 9 at Dallas, 9 p.m.

Sept. 15 Phoenix, 1 p.m.

Sept. 22 at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.

Sept. 30 Philadelphia, 9 p.m.

Oct. 6 at Chicago, 1 p.m.

Oct. 13 Cleveland, 1 p.m.

Oct. 20 Open Date

Oct. 27 at N.Y. Giants, 8 p.m.

Nov. 3 Houston, 1 p.m.

Nov. 10 Atlanta, 1 p.m.

Nov. 17 at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.

Nov. 24 Dallas, 1 p.m.

Dec. 1 at L.A. Rams, 4 p.m.

Dec. 8 at Phoenix, 4 p.m.

Dec. 15 N.Y. Giants, 4 p.m.

Dec. 22 at Philadelphia, 4 p.m.

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