Redskins, Cowboys shuffle their draft cards Washington moves up, picks DT Wilson from Mich. State

April 22, 1991|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Correspondent

HERNDON,VA. — HERNDON, Va. -- After 23 months on the job, Charley Casserly has emerged out of Bobby Beathard's shadow and put his stamp on the Washington Redskins.

An obscure Beathard assistant when Beathard resigned as general manager in May 1989, Casserly showed he's not going to operate in the same way his mentor did.

Not only did Casserly keep the Redskins' first-round pick in yesterday's draft -- he gave up a fifth-round choice to move up three spots to get the player he wanted, defensive tackle Bobby Wilson of Michigan State -- but he also traded for a 1992 first-round choice.

And he made that trade with Beathard, who is now the San Diego Chargers general manager.

The Redskins will go into next year's draft with two first-round picks for the first time since 1961. The selection of Wilson was their first on the first round since they took cornerback Darrell Green in 1983.

The Redskins wound up making just two picks in the four rounds conducted yesterday -- Wilson and Southern Cal running back Ricky Ervins.

Casserly had traded the fourth-round pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers last year for defensive lineman Tim Johnson. The Redskins also won't have a pick in the fifth round today, because Casserly gave it up to the Dallas Cowboys to move up from the 20th to the 17th spot to take Wilson.

Raghib "Rocket" Ismail's decision to sign with a Canadian team helped the Redskins get Wilson, who had been projected to be a Cowboys pick.

With Ismail gone, the Cowboys decided to take Russell Maryland with the first pick, so they didn't want to take Wilson, another defensive tackle, on the 17th pick and were willing to listen to Washington. The Redskins wanted to move up from No. 20 because they feared either the Green Bay Packers or the Cincinnati Bengals might grab Wilson.

The Redskins had rated Wilson as one of the top 10 players in the draft, well above the next player on their list, defensive lineman Ted Washington, who went to the San Francisco 49ers on the 25th pick.

There had been speculation the Redskins would take linebacker Alfred Williams of Colorado, who wound up going to the Bengals on the 18th pick, but the Redskins had Wilson and Washington higher on their board.

The 17th pick the Redskins used originally belonged to the Houston Oilers, who traded it to the New England Patriots on Friday. The Patriots traded it to Dallas yesterday to move up to the 14th spot and take running back Leonard Russell. Dallas then traded it to Washington.

Counting Johnson and the first-round pick he got from San Diego for next year, Casserly said it was a productive draft.

"We're excited about it," he said.

He added that a team with two No. 1 picks can "control its destiny" in the draft.

"If we'd had two No. 1s in the draft, we may have had the opportunity to do anything we wanted to in the first round. You have to look at the big picture. It's an investment in the future," Casserly said.

Beathard likes to worry about the future in the future. He wanted to select offensive lineman Eric Moten of Michigan State late in the second round. He didn't have a third-round choice, so he called Casserly and offered the deal.

Casserly doesn't have the same philosophy Beathard does, but said, "I don't want to get into a philosophical discussion."

Casserly added that when he decided to give up the second-round pick, there wasn't a player on the board to match Andre Collins, the linebacker drafted on the second round with the Redskins' first pick last year. Casserly said he wouldn't have made a deal if such a player were on the board.

Although the Redskins didn't have an urgent need for either a defensive tackle or a running back, Casserly stuck to his philosophy of drafting the best athlete.

Wilson's arrival could spell the end of Darryl Grant's career, because the team already had three other tackles -- Johnson, Eric Williams and Tracy Rocker. Rocker and Grant probably will fight for the final tackle spot.

Wilson didn't become a starter until his senior season. He played an angle over the center, the way Joe Greene used to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970s. George Perles, the Michigan State coach, was the Steelers line coach when Greene played that way.

Wilson said: "I'm excited. I always liked the Redskins. I feel I've got pretty good quickness."

Casserly said: "There are three things that I see that are outstanding -- the initial quickness, he's quick off the ball, he's explosive on contact and he has a motor."

Casserly said Wilson is a hustling player who goes all-out.

Ervins was downgraded because he hurt his ankle twice in his second year, but the Redskins had him rated in the second round. They say he could be another Joe Morris.

He'll join a group that includes Earnest Byner, Gerald Riggs, Brian Mitchell and John Settle.

"There's an axiom that you can never have too many good players at a position," Casserly said.

Redskins picks

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