Redskins will push for help on defense Trade still possible, but Casserly expects pick to be lineman or linebacker

April 18, 1997|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. -- This will not be a glamorous draft for the Washington Redskins.

General manager Charlie Casserly said this week that he doesn't plan to be selecting any running backs or quarterbacks tomorrow and Sunday when the NFL's 62nd draft takes place.

Washington has the 17th pick in the first round and nine choices total in the seven rounds, including a fifth-round pick from the New Orleans Saints for the Heath Shuler signing.

Of course, there is always a chance the team could make some draft-day trades. Casserly said any of those moves also won't be attention grabbers.

"If we can move down from 17th, we will," he said. "A lot of teams are talking about moving down but in order for that to happen, somebody has to move up."

Instead of glitz this weekend, Casserly will continue going about the arduous task of trying to rebuild an inept defensive unit that was ranked 28th overall and 30th (last) against the run last season.

At the top of the Washington defensive wish list are a defensive lineman and a linebacker.

Since early January, the Redskins have hired a new defensive coordinator in Mike Nolan, a new defensive line coach in Earl Leggett, brought in Dale Lindsey as a new linebackers coach, and chosen LeCharls McDaniel as a defensive assistant coach.

Now Washington is looking for a lot of new faces on defense to play for these coaches.

Casserly has already signed two unrestricted free agents -- Pro Bowl cornerback Cris Dishman from the Houston Oilers and safety Jesse Campbell from the New York Giants.

Next comes the young players from the draft that coach Norv Turner says are so crucial to the future of the team.

"The foundation of your team is through the draft," said Turner. "Those are the guys that you have an opportunity to mold. The guys [free agents] that go out and have great success, you're not going to be in a position to keep them all. But if you keep the key guys in terms of your draft, then you are going to get better."

Like everybody else in the NFL, the Redskins are infatuated with the talented linebackers available.

Casserly said the top three are Virginia's James Farrior and Jamie Sharper, and Alabama's Dwayne Rudd.

But Casserly isn't as optimistic about finding a starting defensive tackle because the talent is thin at that position.

"If you don't take a tackle in the first two rounds, you're basically rolling the dice after that," he said.

Notre Dame's Renaldo Wynn and North Carolina's Rick Terry are among the defensive tackles expected to be available when Washington drafts.

Four defensive ends could still be around when the Redskins draft.

They are Reinard Wilson (Florida State), Kenny Holmes (Miami), Trevor Pryce (Clemson) and Kenard Lang (Miami).

But Casserly and Turner both said they would be willing to pass up the team's obvious need for a linebacker or defensive lineman if a better player at another position becomes available.

Pub Date: 4/18/97

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