- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 20, 2005

An unusual afternoon at Redskin Park ended with the Washington Redskins making another blockbuster trade with the Denver Broncos, this time obtaining the 25th overall pick in this weekend’s NFL Draft for a 2006 first-rounder, 2005 third-rounder and 2006 fourth-rounder.

Vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato said last night that Washington, which already held the ninth overall pick, is looking to trade back to obtain more selections. However, the team appears determined to select at least two players in the first round, one of which almost certainly will be a cornerback.

Washington’s last big trade with Denver came just one year ago, when the Redskins obtained running back Clinton Portis for cornerback Champ Bailey and a second-round pick. It was among the most significant deals in league history involving two veteran players.

Last night, immediately squelching speculation that the Redskins might package the two first-rounders to advance into the upper reaches of the draft, Cerrato said emphatically, “Nooo. We’re looking to go back, not up.”

He added that the Redskins won’t trade either of the picks for a veteran player — the scenario that led coach Joe Gibbs and Cerrato to issue unorthodox press releases earlier in the day.

Early yesterday, responding to published reports that Washington was talking to the Oakland Raiders about dealing the No.9 pick for cornerback Phillip Buchanon and a second-round choice, Cerrato said in a statement: “We have no intention of trading the ninth pick of the draft. Anything reported to the contrary is incorrect.”

A few hours later, Gibbs said in a seemingly contradictory statement: “Are we considering any options we are presented with? Yes, we’ll consider anything, but no one has presented a compelling scenario.”

In a strict sense, Cerrato’s statement about the ninth pick was incorrect. Last night he said the Redskins have talked to “every team behind” them in the draft to evaluate trade-back scenarios. However, the early press release made pointed reference to Buchanon and seems to have been issued to dismiss talk of that swap.

The Redskins now hold, in addition to the two first-round selections, picks in the fourth, sixth and seventh rounds. Next year the club has no first- and fourth-rounders, but Cerrato said the team “felt the value was good” in yesterday’s deal and it isn’t concerned about giving up too much too soon.

“Not really,” he said. “Trading back, we could recoup some of those picks.”

Cornerback has been Washington’s biggest hole since Fred Smoot left for the Minnesota Vikings in early March. Walt Harris, last year’s No. 3, seems healthy after a long knee rehabilitation and is capable of starting, but the Redskins have virtually no experience behind him and would be gambling to enter the season without another high-caliber corner.

Cerrato said Washington considered Buchanon earlier this offseason but ruled out a trade at that time. Redskins sources, prior to the interview with Cerrato, also indicated that a trade with Buchanon was off the table.

One reason could be the talent that’s available at cornerback this weekend. Miami’s Antrel Rolle is generally regarded as the No. 1 corner in the draft, with West Virginia junior Adam “Pacman” Jones next, followed by Auburn’s Carlos Rogers, who won the Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back.

Rolle brings a physical package but draws questions about his speed, and some talent evaluators believe he might be better suited to play safety in a league in which defensive backs can no longer make contact with receivers beyond five yards of the line of scrimmage.

Others wonder whether the 5-foot-91/2-inch Jones is too short to succeed. But New England’s Bill Belichick, whose team won three of the past four Super Bowls, said, “If a corner can cover, he’s got a lot of value. They come in a lot of different shapes, sizes and styles.”

Rogers, meanwhile, can run 40 yards in 4.41 seconds, but his biggest asset is probably his explosiveness, a critical skill for corners who often duel a receiver one-on-one. Rogers hasn’t gotten the same publicity as Rolle and Jones, but some teams — including perhaps the Redskins — are said to consider him the draft’s top corner.

Note — Quarterback Tim Hasselbeck, whose tenure as a restricted free agent ended Friday, signed his tender offer. The only unsigned Redskins are safeties Pat Dennis and Jason Doering and tight end Brian Kozlowski, all unrestricted free agents who aren’t expected back.

Staff writer David Elfin contributed to this article.

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