- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 10, 2005

The Washington Redskins aren’t messing around in their pursuit of a top wide receiver in the NFL Draft.

As Oklahoma wideout Mark Clayton completed a visit to Washington yesterday, it became clear that Southern California’s Mike Williams toured Redskin Park recently and South Carolina’s Troy Williamson is due in late this week.

The fact that Washington is meeting with three of the draft’s top four receiving prospects signals that Clayton’s visit, which came to light Friday, wasn’t an anomaly but part of a pattern.

It had been considered somewhat surprising that Washington, which selects ninth overall, would eye the Sooners’ star. The Redskins already have acquired veterans Santana Moss and David Patten this offseason, and the backup corps has intriguing commodities in James Thrash, Taylor Jacobs and Darnerien McCants.

Yet coach Joe Gibbs, whose team’s biggest failing last year was an inability to get the ball deep, is scrutinizing a trio of prospects who are projected to be eventual No.1 targets in the NFL — something none of Washington’s quintet is said to be.

Williams, who made headlines last year when he and Maurice Clarett were blocked from entering the draft as underclassmen, has prototypical size at 6-foot-4, 230 pounds. There is little doubt Williams can make big plays, but the fact that he sat out last year is somewhat of a concern.

Williamson is a bit smaller (6-1, 202) but has tremendous deep speed. The Redskins, who completed just nine passes of 30 or more yards in 2004, already have signaled their desire for speed by picking up Moss and Patten.

Mitch Frankel, Williams’ agent, said his client visited Redskin Park “a few days ago.” David Canter, who represents Williamson, said his client is due in Friday as the last of “nine or 10” visits to various NFL teams. The Redskins aren’t commenting on rookie visits, which aren’t made public on intra-league communications.

One source familiar with Washington’s thinking said the club even considered bringing in Michigan’s Braylon Edwards but held off when it became clear Edwards wouldn’t last until the ninth overall pick. Edwards is considered almost certain to be selected among the draft’s top five overall players.

Washington’s most obvious position of need heading into the April 23-24 draft is cornerback. West Virginia corner Adam “Pac-Man” Jones and Auburn’s Carlos Rogers visited in recent days, and Miami’s Antrel Rolle is due in Thursday. Agent Todd France in an e-mail yesterday confirmed Rogers’ visit.

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