Redskins Hope Lang Energizes Stale Defense

Miami De Taken At No. 17

Colo. Lb Jones Is 2nd Pick

April 20, 1997|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. -- On the field, Kenard Lang fits neatly into the Washington Redskins' defensive plans as a left end who is strong against the run.

Off the field, the team's first-round pick from the University of Miami in yesterday's NFL draft is tougher to figure out.

He is nicknamed "Shaq" for his resemblance to Los Angeles Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal, has a mean streak on the field, is laid back off the field with interests in music and church activities, is quick with a quip, and was selected in the 43rd round of the 1996 major-league baseball draft by the Chicago White Sox.

On top of all of that, Redskins coach Norv Turner said the defensive end "has a very high motor."

Lang said he is ready to run that motor at full speed to help Washington improve a defense that rated 28th overall last season.

"I'm going to try and start," said Lang, 6 feet 4 and 277 pounds. "I'll know more about that when I check the depth chart."

When his name was called yesterday as the 17th selection in the first round, Lang said it was the "best feeling in my life. It was like my first sack in college against Georgia Tech on a bootleg. I've followed the Redskins a lot and was always a Washington fan, as well as the Bears and Raiders."

General manager Charley Casserly said he took Lang over some talented right defensive ends because "we have a heck of a right end in Richie Owens."

Casserly and the Redskins barely beat the 15-minute clock before deciding on Lang because they were talking to five teams about moving down in the first round.

Casserly and new Washington defensive line coach Earl Leggett both believe Lang would have been a much higher first-round pick if he had not left Miami a year early.

"If he had stayed in school, Kenard would have gone in the top five," Leggett said. "He has a little mean streak out there on the field that always showed when it came time to make the big plays."

Washington also followed form in the second round by using the 51st overall selection to take outside linebacker Greg Jones (6-4, 241 pounds) from the University of Colorado.

Washington completed the first day of the draft by selecting Arizona State linebacker Derek Smith in the third round.

Smith (6-2, 238) played all three linebacker positions in college and will be used inside by the Redskins, who still have six picks left today in the final four rounds.

Pub Date: 4/20/97

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