'Skins comfortable at 53

Free-agent signings leave team content to fill holes late in draft


ASHBURN, Va. -- With the Washington Redskins scheduled to wait until the 53rd overall pick late in the second round of today's NFL draft to make their first move, the franchise's brain trust is realistic about when the team will be on the clock.

"We'll be here [at Redskins Park] for breakfast, lunch and dinner," Vinny Cerrato, the vice president of football operations, said during a briefing with the media yesterday. "We'll be having dessert by the time we pick."

The draft has become the second option for a club that has had just 42 picks since 1999 (only five more than the Houston Texans, who entered the league in 2002) and has selected three players on the first day of the draft just three times in the past decade.

Coach Joe Gibbs and owner Daniel Snyder have valued proven veterans over unknown youngsters and made their annual splash in the offseason by signing free agents and making trades.

This offseason, the Redskins successfully wooed wide receiver Antwaan Randle El, defensive end Andre Carter, safety Adam Archuleta and tight end Christian Fauria. The team also acquired wide receiver Brandon Lloyd from the San Francisco 49ers for a third-round selection this year and a fourth-round choice in 2007.

"The coaches' goal for us was let's fill most of our needs through free agency and trades, and then in the draft we can take the best player available," Cerrato said. "So we feel like we're kind of in that situation, where at 53, we can go in a lot of different directions. We're not penciled in that you have to have that. That was the goal in the offseason coming into the draft."

Still, Washington has several needs to fill with its one first-day pick and six second-day selections. After parting with disgruntled outside linebacker LaVar Arrington and re-signing Warrick Holdman and Chris Clemons, the team could target Miami's Roger McIntosh, UTEP's Thomas Howard or Cal Poly's Chris Gocong with the 53rd selection.

With cornerbacks Shawn Springs and Carlos Rogers completing injury-filled seasons last year, the Redskins could use their second-round pick on Ohio State's Ashton Youboty, Texas' Cedric Griffin or Penn State's Alan Zemaitis.

Or the team could draft a tight end like Georgia's Leonard Pope, Notre Dame's Anthony Fasano or Southern California's Dominique Byrd to complement Fauria.

Gibbs also did not rule out Washington's trying to package some of its picks in the second day of the draft to get another first-day choice. But he also said that he is comfortable with the team's draft position.

"Obviously, at 53, you can't chart what's going to happen. There's going to be a lot going on," he said. "We tried to position ourselves so we're in good position to pick whatever we think falls there. We think we know what's going to be there generally. We've got a plan."


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