Redskins willing to wheel and deal

Even with two choices in first round, Washington still `exploring all options'

Pro Football

April 22, 2005|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Considering how tumultuous the Washington Redskins' offseason has been, why would their preparations for the NFL draft be any different?

After enduring two no-shows at a voluntary minicamp, a verbal shot across the bow from their star linebacker and the departure of their No. 1 wide-out, the Redskins might have looked forward to the certainty of having five picks, including the ninth overall selection, in this weekend's draft.

Instead, Washington continued to make waves by trading this year's third-round pick (No. 76) and next year's first- and fourth-round choices to Denver for the Broncos' first-round selection (No. 25) this year.

And if Vinny Cerrato, the team's vice president of football operations, is serious, the Redskins' two first-rounders aren't set in stone.

"We have contacted every team in front of us and behind us about moving up and moving down," Cerrato said Wednesday. "Now, because we have the 25th pick, we have numbers of options. So we're exploring all options."

If history is any indicator, don't be surprised if Washington swaps both first-round choices. In coach Joe Gibbs' first tenure from 1981 to 1992, the Redskins dealt their first-round selections and drafted their first player in later rounds eight times.

At least one published report speculated that Washington's move to stockpile two first-round picks was an attempt to package the choices to move up in first round for a shot at Michigan wide receiver Braylon Edwards.

But with holes at cornerback, wide receiver and defensive end, the Redskins may feel that holding onto both selections is the wiser move.

"We think [No.] 9 has got real value for us, and we think 25 does," Gibbs said. "We felt like having those two picks right now is the best spot for us to help our football team."

If Washington doesn't budge in the draft order, conventional wisdom suggests the organization will use the ninth choice to draft a cornerback to replace Fred Smoot, who left for the Minnesota Vikings.

Three cornerbacks - Miami's Antrel Rolle, West Virginia's Adam Jones and Auburn's Carlos Rogers - top the list. Rolle was suspended twice last season and was charged in an incident during which he allegedly resisted the police, but at 6 feet and 201 pounds, Rolle is the type of cornerback who can be physical with taller receivers.

Jones lived up to the nickname "Pac-Man" with eight interceptions and two fumble recoveries in 36 games, but his 5-9 frame has raised questions about his ability to cover the bigger wide-outs in the league.

Rogers won the Jim Thorpe Award as the country's best defensive back, but he isn't regarded as being in the same class as Rolle and Jones.

The No. 25 choice could be used on a wide receiving crop headlined by Edwards and Southern California's Mike Williams - and to a lesser extent South Carolina's Troy Williamson - but all three will likely be off the board by the time the Redskins choose.

Oklahoma's Mark Clayton is fast (4.40 seconds in the 40) and high-octane (a school-record 31 touchdowns), but several teams in front of Redskins covet him. Georgia's Reggie Brown isn't as fast (4.45 seconds), but he's taller than Clayton and has the bulk to break arm tackles.

If Washington elects to go for a pass rusher off the end, it's highly unlikely that Georgia's David Pollack, LSU's Marcus Spears or Wisconsin's Erasmus James would still be available.

The Redskins could then peruse a group that includes Oklahoma's Dan Cody (10 sacks each in 2003 and 2004), Notre Dame's Justin Tuck (a school-record 24 1/2 sacks) and Iowa's Matt Roth (30 career sacks).

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