'Skins seem set on tackle Samuels

Their draft-day drama: Will Brown or Arrington be available for other pick?

April 10, 2000|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

When Alabama offensive tackle Chris Samuels visited Redskin Park last week, he all but unpacked.

"I just came to see my new home," Samuels said.

One of the best bets in the NFL's college draft Saturday is that the Washington Redskins will select him over Florida State wide receiver Peter Warrick with the third pick in the draft and install him at left tackle, possibly for the next decade.

Even Vinny Cerrato, the team's director of player personnel, said Friday at a media briefing that it's a "good assumption" the Redskins will take Samuels.

Of course, it's not unusual for teams to try to spread disinformation before the draft, but if the Redskins don't take Samuels, it means they will have orchestrated one of the best draft bluffs in recent times.

Even though the Redskins had Warrick for a visit last week, Cerrato brushed him off by saying, "I think people are concerned about his speed."

The real question is what the Redskins, who have the second and third picks, are going to do with their other first-round pick.

They first have to wait to see which of the top two Penn State defensive players -- LaVar Arrington and Courtney Brown -- is taken by the Cleveland Browns with the first selection.

The Redskins hope the Browns pick defensive end Brown, because Washington wants Arrington, a linebacker. The Redskins have more of a need for a linebacker than defensive end because they signed veteran Bruce Smith and re-signed Marco Coleman.

There's been speculation the Browns might tell the Redskins they'll take Arrington unless Washington gives Cleveland a draft pick to swap the first and second picks.

Cerrato denies the Redskins will trade up and insists the Redskins will be happy with Arrington or Brown.

"There isn't one guy that we really have to have," he said. "I don't think it really matters what Cleveland does."

If the Browns do take Arrington, though, don't be surprised if owner Daniel Snyder calls Bill Parcells, the New York Jets' director of football operations.

This is Snyder's first draft since he bought the team for $800 million last year, and there's no question he's calling the shots. He's intrigued with the idea of trading for Jets wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, especially if the Browns take Arrington.

Snyder called Parcells for the second time last week and made him an offer he could refuse. He wanted Johnson along with one of the Jets' two lower first-round picks and a second-round pick for the Redskins' second pick in the draft. And he wanted Johnson to fulfill the last two years of his contract.

Parcells is willing to trade Johnson but not give up the two picks. Johnson also has made it clear he'll hold out for half the season if he doesn't get a new deal.

However, that might have been only Snyder's first offer. He likes to collect names. He has already signed Smith, he's talking to quarterback Jeff George and he is interested in cornerback Deion Sanders.

If the Browns grab Arrington, Snyder could decide to soften his demands, make the trade for Johnson and give him a new contract.

The problem with trading for Johnson and drafting Samuels is the Redskins wouldn't upgrade a defense that ranked 30th in the league last season. Snyder attributed much of the defensive woes to former defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, who was fired.

But new defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes could use an infusion of new talent. So far, Smith and safety Mark Carrier are the only two major upgrades.

Another possibility is that if the Browns take Brown, the Redskins would take Samuels with the second pick and Arrington with the third.

That would presumably give the Redskins more leverage in dealing with Arrington's agents -- Carl and Kevin Poston -- who have a reputation for holding out high draft picks, notably Tim Biakabutuka and Orlando Pace.

However, that could be seen as such an obvious ploy that could alienate Arrington and the Postons.

In any case, Cerrato said the Redskins don't want one of their top picks holding out.

"It's very big," he said. "When we're on the clock, we'll talk to the agent.

"We've got to have a comfort level that the guy will be at camp. If he's going to hold out, we can't draft him."

But because the Redskins don't appear to want Warrick, they wouldn't have much of an alternative to Arrington. Brown, Arrington, Samuels and Warrick are the Big Four of this draft, and then there's a drop-off.

Because Snyder traded two first-round picks and fourth- and fifth-round picks to the San Francisco 49ers to get the third pick, the Redskins have only four other selections in the draft.

The Redskins will be looking for a defensive back, a guard and a third-string quarterback later in the draft.

Pub Date: 4/10/00

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