Casserly, Redskins get their man, and also future first-rounder

April 22, 1991|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Evening Sun Staff

HERNDON, Va. -- The Washington Redskins must be living right.

How else can you explain the hated NFC Eastern Division rival Dallas Cowboys agreeing to a deal that allowed the Skins to move up in yesterday's NFL draft to capture the player they wanted?

How else to explain former Redskins and now San Diego Chargers general manager Bobby Beathard calling to offer his 1992 first-round draft choice for the Redskins' second-round pick in this year's draft and their fifth-round choice in 1992?

Just call it pure good fortune, plus some splendid maneuvering on the part of Redskins general manager Charley Casserly, who could be escaping the shadow cast by his predecessor, Beathard.

As the draft continued into the fifth round today, the Redskins find themselves with No. 1 pick Bobby Wilson, a defensive tackle from Michigan State in hand; and, perhaps most importantly, in position to control their own fate in 1992.

"In 1992, we will have two first-round picks for the first time since who knows when," said Casserly. "With two, we can do just about anything we want. You saw this year, Dallas was able to maneuver for the No. 1 pick because it had two picks to work with. Now, we're in position to have that kind of control. It's a nice luxury."

The last time the Redskins had two first-round picks? 1961. That year, legendary quarterback Norm Snead and two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Joe Rutgens came on board.

"I can't tell you how the college crop looks in 1992," said Casserly. "But I can tell you that the players who were on the board in round two, who we might have drafted and who are good players who would probably make our team, were at positions where we already have good depth."

Meanwhile, the Redskins used this year's first-round pick to land Wilson, who should help fortify an aging defensive line. Wilson was shocked when the Redskins took him. Sitting in his grandmother's living room on the south side of Chicago yesterday afternoon, Wilson picked up the telephone when it rang. The last voice he expected to hear was that of Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs.

"The last time I heard from the Redskins was during Pro Day at Michigan State [in March]," said Wilson, who is 6 feet 1 1/2 , 276 pounds.

Wilson, 23, originally thought Dallas would draft him.

But that scenario was obviously altered when Dallas worked a deal to get the No. 1 pick in the draft and then failed to work a deal for Notre Dame's Raghib "Rocket" Ismail.

Once Ismail agreed to join the Toronto Argonauts, Dallas made Miami defensive tackle Russell Maryland the No. 1 pick in the draft, which dropped Wilson off the Cowboys' chart.

"I was startled when Dallas didn't draft me [with their 12th pick]," admitted Wilson. "By the time the Redskins called, I was just thinking, 'Please, someone draft me.' The Redskins are now my favorite NFL team."

Wilson was on the Redskins' top 10 shopping list.

"We thought there were 10 true first-round draft picks out there," said Casserly. "And we got one."

To do it, Washington worked what in the old days would have been unthinkable. It made a deal with Dallas, trading the 20th pick in the first round plus its fifth-round pick to the Cowboys in order to draft Wilson 17th in Round 1.

"I think when you look at the age of our defensive line, you'll see that a year from now, we're going to have to have some new blood," said Casserly. "We feel Bobby is going to fit right in. He's one of the best-kept secrets in college football."

At defensive tackle, the Redskins' current roster includes 11-year starter Darryl Grant, nine-year veteran Charles Mann and eight-year veteran Eric Williams.

Wilson has a build similar to that of Grant, 31, with whom he will compete for a job in training camp this summer.

"Darryl has to come to compete and beat someone out. But that's how it has always been for him," Gibbs said.

"I think Bobby will like playing here in our 4-3 defense," Gibbs said. "I think he'll make a run at it [at starting]. He has to earn his way in, but his chances are very good."

Wilson, a junior college transfer, played only one full year at Michigan State. He attended junior college at Northeast Oklahoma A&M because he didn't have the required science credits for admission to Michigan State as a freshman. But after tearing up the junior college ranks and being named Most Valuable Player in two JUCO championship games, Wilson finally wound up at Michigan State.

He runs a 5.03 in the 40-yard -- and was named to the 1990 All-America first team by The Poor Man's Guide to the NFL Draft. He was also All-Big Ten Conference first team, after a banner senior campaign, in which he made 77 tackles, 45 of them solos. He had five sacks and 13 stops for 48 yards in losses.

*

With their only other pick in yesterday's first four rounds, the Redskins took Southern Cal running back Ricky Ervins, 5-8, 195. Ervins was a preseason All-Pac-10 pick before he suffered an ankle injury and played in only five games last season, gaining 393 yards on 90 carries with four touchdowns. The year before he rushed for 1,395 yards and was Rose Bowl MVP.

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