Just their luck, Redskins select a couple of Irish Pick Notre Dame's Carter, Brooks

April 26, 1993|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Redskins drafted the best available player from Notre Dame and may have solved their punting problem on the first day of the NFL draft.

After failing in an attempt to trade up to get linebacker Wayne Simmons -- who was selected by the Green Bay Packers with the 15th pick yesterday -- the Redskins rebounded by grabbing Notre Dame cornerback Tom Carter with the 17th selection.

The Redskins came back on the second round to take another Notre Dame player, running back Reggie Brooks, and then selected three more players, including punter Ed Bunn of UTEP, expected to replace veteran Kelly Goodburn, on the next two rounds.

The Redskins will make their final four selections of the eight-round draft today.

Bunn was the team's second pick on the third round with the choice they got from the San Diego Chargers for quarterback Stan Humphries. With their first pick on the round, they took linebacker Rick Hamilton of Central Florida. On the fourth round, they selected defensive end Sterling Palmer of Florida State.

Carter was the top-rated cornerback on the Redskins' board, but they feared they'd lose him when the Cleveland Browns traded down from the 11th to the 14th slot. They thought the Browns wanted Carter.

Foiled in their attempt to trade up for Simmons, they were ready to take cornerback Carlton Gray, who wound up going to the Seattle Seahawks with the first pick of the second round, when the Browns surprised them by taking offensive lineman Steve Everitt.

The Redskins then rejected trade offers from a few teams, including the San Diego Chargers, and selected Carter. This is the highest they've gone for a defensive back since Tory Nixon and Brian Davis were second-round busts in 1985 and 1987.

The Redskins, though, predict Carter is likely to replace Darrell Green as their top cornerback in a couple of years.

"He's one of the most athletic guys I've seen at that position in a long time," said secondary coach Emmitt Thomas. "If Darrell plays another couple of years, he'll be ready to step in and he might be our lead guy back there."

If Green or A. J. Johnson, who both were injured last year, was sidelined again, he could play sooner. At the very least, he'll play on passing downs.

"He will play for us at some point in the first year," general manager Charley Casserly predicted.

A 20-year-old junior, Carter figures to have a long career.

New coach Richie Petitbon said, "Frankly, we were surprised he was still sitting there when we got that first pick. He has all the physical ability in the world. He has a chance to be a heckuva football player."

The Redskins were thin at cornerback after Martin Mayhew left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the free-agent market, but the addition of Carter more than offsets the loss of Mayhew.

Thomas said, "With Green and Johnson and Alvoid Mays, we've got four real good corners right now."

At 5-11 and 187 pounds, Carter has the size to play against such receivers as Michael Irvin and Alvin Harper of the Dallas Cowboys.

"He's playing like a guy 6-3, 6-4 because he can jump off either foot on the move. A lot of guys can jump high when you stand them still, but this young man can jump when he's moving," Thomas said.

Carter was watching the draft on ESPN at his home in St. Petersburg, Fla., with his mother, who was recently laid off as a bank teller, and several relatives when the Redskins called.

Although he's two semesters away from his degree in finance and will return to school in the off-season, Carter said he decided to leave for financial considerations.

"I thought I could help my family a lot more being out of school than in school. I had three good years starting at Notre Dame and I don't know if I would have gained anything at the University," he said.

Carter said he played against Desmond Howard, last year's first round pick, in a 1991 Michigan-Notre Dame game. Although Howard caught six passes for 74 yards, including a 25-yard fourth-down touchdown reception in the fourth quarter in a 24-14 victory, Carter said he didn't get any catches against him.

"He's a great receiver. I did pretty well against them. He might tell you differently. That's just a receiver-defensive back thing," he said.

Carter agrees with the Redskins that his best football is in front of him.

"I don't feel like I've reached my potential," he said.

Brooks is a 5-7, 209-pounder who led Notre Dame with 1,343 yards and 13 touchdowns.

"We think he's a guy who can put the ball in the end zone," Petitbon said. "He's a game-breaker a guy who can go the distance at any time. He's a home run threat."

Brooks, who has a sister living in D.C. and an aunt living in Virginia married to former Redskin Tony Peters, said he's excited to be playing with Carter, his college teammate.

"He's a great person," he said. "It's kind of a dream come true. It's one of the best things that ever happened to me."

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