Redskins hold firm, say they're high on No. 5

`We can't lose,' says Cerrato, who dismisses speculation that 'Skins will trade higher

April 24, 2004|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. - Amid all the rumors surrounding the possibility of the Washington Redskins trading the No. 5 pick in today's NFL draft, one fact has not escaped Vinny Cerrato, vice president of football operations.

"To be at five, we can't lose," Cerrato said Thursday at the team's media briefing at Redskins Park. "We're going to get an outstanding player. It's just which one?"

The popular notion suggests that when Washington is put on the clock, the team's brain trust decide between a pair of Miami Hurricanes: tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. or safety Sean Taylor.

Another theory was quickly rejected by Cerrato: making a possible trade with the San Diego Chargers for the overall No. 1 selection or with the Oakland Raiders, Arizona Cardinals or New York Giants, all of whom will pick in the top four.

"I think trading back is a lot more likely than trading up," he said, noting that the team has only fifth- and sixth-round choices after the first round. "Like I said earlier, we have no ammunition to trade up. To trade up into the top five is expensive from [exchanging] picks that we don't have, and it's expensive financially, too. It's highly, highly unlikely that we'll do that."

Weeks of film review and discussion by Washington's coaching and scouting staffs produced a list of what Cerrato called "150 draftable players."

While Cerrato and coach Joe Gibbs kept the list to themselves, Gibbs acknowledged that team needs could be the driving force behind the Redskins' decision with the No. 5 pick.

"I would say there's a strong influence on need, because you feel like there are eight or nine that you could make a case for being a great player," he said. "You can't get away from need."

Such talk hints that Washington could use its first choice on Winslow, a 6-foot-4, 243-pound tight end who has drawn comparisons to Tony Gonzalez of the Kansas City Chiefs and Jeremy Shockey of the New York Giants.

Winslow caught 127 passes, the most ever by a Miami tight end, for 1,365 yards and nine touchdowns in 38 games. An impressive target with soft hands, Winslow is considered too fast to be covered by a linebacker and too large to be tackled by a safety.

"He's almost like a wide receiver playing tight end," Cerrato said. "He's got explosiveness out of his breaks. He runs in the 4.5s. ... He can block. He can do a lot of things. He can create a lot of mismatches."

Another factor could be Gibbs' relationship with Winslow's father, Kellen Winslow Sr. The two were members of the Chargers' organization between 1979 and 1980.

But some have suggested that the Redskins will avoid drafting Winslow because he is represented by the Poston brothers, who are in the midst of a dispute with the team over linebacker LaVar Arrington's contract.

"We wouldn't do that," Gibbs said. "But I would say that every single part of a person and every single part of everything around them influences you."

That has led some experts to predict that Washington will draft Taylor, Winslow's teammate and frequent practice partner.

At 6-2, 231 pounds, Taylor is a strong, athletic safety who has a knack for delivering blows to wide receivers running crossing routes. He has been compared to Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott.

"He's like a corner playing safety," Cerrato said. "He can add a lot to the defense. There's probably hasn't been a safety like him come out for a while."

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