Redskins give 4-thought to first round of draft

February 19, 1994|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Writer

With the college draft two months away, the Washington Redskins have narrowed the list of candidates for their first-round pick to four players.

After judging all the top prospects at the annual scouting combine meeting in Indianapolis last week, general manager Charley Casserly said that four players stood out.

Because the Redskins have the third pick, they figure to select one of the four players with their first-round pick.

In no particular order, Casserly's top-four list has quarterbacks Trent Dilfer of Fresno State and Heath Shuler of Tennessee, defensive lineman Dan Wilkinson of Ohio State and running back Marshall Faulk of San Diego State.

"The key is that Wilkinson and Faulk are heads and shoulders above everybody else, not counting the quarterbacks," Casserly said.

The Redskins are looking closely at the quarterbacks but haven't yet decided to go for one in the draft.

They first have to find out if they can get Scott Mitchell of the Miami Dolphins, who's likely to be one of the most sought-after free agents.

The free-agent signing period started yesterday, and Mitchell'sagent, Tony Agnone, said he hopes to get Mitchell signed within a month so he can start learning a new system. The Redskins are one of the teams he plans to visit.

Other teams interested in him include the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints.

New coach Norv Turner was impressed with Mitchell's work after Dan Marino was injured.

Although Mitchell wasn't the same after he injured his shoulder, Turner said, "Who knows what would have happened if he hadn't gotten hurt?"

Turner also wants more time to evaluate incumbent Mark Rypien.

"It's not fair to eliminate Mark Rypien," Turner said, even though Rypien seemed convinced at the end of last year that he was no longer in the Redskins' future.

Turner has ties to two other free-agent quarterbacks, Bernie Kosar, who played for him in Dallas, and Sean Salisbury of the Minnesota Vikings, who played for him at USC.

Turner didn't want to comment on them, but they're both 30 and don't figure to be part of a rebuilding program.

For the long term, Mitchell, who's 26, would seem to be a more logical choice along with either of the rookies, Dilfer or Shuler.

Since there are two blue-chip quarterbacks in the draft and the Redskins have the third pick, they have a good shot at getting one of them. But there's no guarantee one of them will be available in the third slot. After all, two quarterbacks -- Drew Bledsoe and Rick Mirer -- went 1-2 in last year's draft.

The Cincinnati Bengals have the first pick in the draft, and since they have David Klingler, they could bypass a quarterback and go for Wilkinson.

But they might be willing to trade the pick to a team that wants a quarterback.

The Indianapolis Colts have the second pick, and the early speculation was that they wanted Faulk.

All that changed last month when owner Bob Irsay demoted his son, Jimmy, and put Bill Tobin in charge of the football operations.

Jimmy Irsay had traded for Jeff George and seemed willing to stick with him even though he has yet to live up to his early promise

Tobin isn't committed to George and has plans to trade him. (Tobin has reportedly talked to the Redskins about George, but Casserly said he didn't want to comment on George).

If Tobin gets a good price for George, he would be willing to trade George and draft a quarterback.

Since the Redskins appear to be a long shot to get George, they might have to trade up to one of the first two spots to get a quarterback.

Neither Casserly nor Turner will say whether he prefers Dilfer or Shuler.

"We've said all along that both of those guys are good," Casserly said.

Turner said, "They're both awfully talented."

Shuler played on a higher level in college, but Dilfer might have a slight edge because at 6 feet 5, he's about three inches taller than Shuler.

Meanwhile, Turner and the members of his coaching staff have begun evaluating the current Redskins.

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