Redskins pay visit to Simmons May pick Clemson linebacker first

April 25, 1993|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

The Washington Redskins have targeted Clemson linebacker Wayne Simmons as the player they hope to get in the first round of today's college draft.

The Redskins telegraphed their serious interest in Simmons on Friday when linebacker coach Larry Peccatiello made a trip to the Clemson campus for a four-hour get-acquainted visit with Simmons.

There had been no pre-draft speculation that the Redskins would choose Simmons because they have the 17th pick and he's not expected to last longer than the 15th. The Green Bay Packers have that pick and are interested in him.

But general manager Charley Casserly, who confirmed the Peccatiello visit was a sign the Redskins are seriously interested in Simmons, said yesterday that there was a chance the Redskins would trade up in an attempt to get Simmons.

Casserly has traded up in the first round in both of his first two years running the Washington draft. Last year, he leapfrogged ahead of Green Bay to take Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard.

Simmons could have an immediate impact because both outside linebackers, Wilber Marshall and Andre Collins, are unsigned and Marshall is fighting his "franchise" designation in court and the Redskins are trying to trade him.

Simmons had 19 sacks at Clemson, the fourth-highest total in school history, and also has the ability to drop back in pass coverage.

The only negative is that he's had off-the-field problems. He missed two games last year after being fined $100 for simple assault when he reportedly got involved in a fight in a bar. He was charged with assault two other times during his college career, once after reportedly slapping his girlfriend with his baseball cap during an argument.

Casserly said the Redskins have checked out Simmons' background and don't anticipate any problems. He has already completed his degree at Clemson in financial management.

Joe Gardo, who works for an advertising agency in Hilton Head, S.C., and tutored Simmons in junior high school, said Peccatiello made the visit because the Redskins had mixed reviews on Simmons.

"Larry had problems with Wilber Marshall and he didn't want another situation like that. Apparently, it was very positive," Gardo said of the visit.

Of Simmons' off-the-field problems, Gardo said: "He regrets what he did. His one downside is he can be testy or moody. Wayne always has been somewhat of a stubborn guy. He's not afraid to speak his peace. Some people don't take insults as well as others. He's a person of integrity."

Casserly said the Redskins will decide during the first round whether to trade up. Since Simmons isn't expected to be among the first 10 picks and Green Bay is 15th, the Redskins will zero in on the picks between 11 and 14.

If the Redskins don't get Simmons, they'll focus on a different position, such as tight ends, or trade down, because there's no other linebacker rated in the middle of the first round.

The Redskins also don't anticipate trading Marshall during the draft because no team is willing to give them a first-round pick. There's also a chance they could deal for cornerback Kevin Ross the Kansas City Chiefs if general manager Carl Peterson, who wants a second- and a third-round pick, lowers his price.

Casserly also said the Redskins won't find out until after the draft whether they'll be able to sign free-agent running back Marcus Allen of the Los Angeles Raiders. Casserly said Allen's agent, Jon Hookstratten, told him Allen is not ready to commit yet. Hookstratten also told Casserly he hasn't been negotiating with any other team, although there's been speculation he's interested in the Chiefs now that they have Joe Montana.

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