- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 11, 2002

The Washington Redskins may select a Florida receiver, Nebraska guard, Wisconsin defensive tackle or even a Tulane quarterback in the April 20-21 NFL Draft. Or they could simply take an overlooked player who should have gone long before their 18th selection.
"The whole key to the draft is to get the best value that you can," said Redskins vice president of football operations Joe Mendes. "You don't do that by eliminating excellent players. How do we know we don't need a player at any position? Very few teams have been fortunate to have [San Francisco quarterback] Steve Young back up Joe Montana. When you're at 18, you're reacting to what other clubs are doing."
Translation: The Redskins are remaining flexible because heavy offseason free agency losses and limited salary cap room left them with too many needs to target one position. Unlike 1999, when they took cornerback Champ Bailey with the seventh selection, and 2000, when they gained linebacker LaVar Arrington and offensive tackle Chris Samuels with the second and third picks, the Redskins' draft board is wide open.
Mendes is spending this week with the team's scouts and next week with the coaching staff to rate more than 300 prospects. Owner Dan Snyder is again expected in the draft day "war room," along with coach Steve Spurrier for the first time and Mendes, who is returning after a 1-year absence. Because teams have only 15 minutes between first-round picks, the Redskins will have to decide quickly who's the best player left.
"The worst thing to do is fall in love with a particular player," Mendes said. "It's a profession of logic, not emotion."
The Redskins' options are varied enough for them to fill at least one need in the first two rounds.
Receiver could be the sexy first pick, with a pair of Spurrier's Florida Gators, Jabbar Gaffney and Reche Caldwell, expected to be available. It wouldn't be a reach to take either player at No.18, but Gaffney is clearly more ready while Caldwell may be a No.2 receiver. Should Tennessee's Donte Stallworth fall from his expected top 10 ranking, Washington would grab him. Virginia Tech's Andre Davis, Pitt's Antonio Bryant and Florida State's Javon Walker are possible second-rounders.
The Redskins also could go with veterans Rod Gardner and Jacquez Green as their starting tandem. However, neither has yet proved a dominant pro receiver.
Defensive tackle is a potential opening selection. Washington could play recently signed Jacksonville end Renaldo Wynn at tackle, but the Redskins appear ready to release end Marco Coleman in June unless he renegotiates his contract.
Wisconsin's Wendell Bryant and Tennessee's Albert Haynesworth are potential late first-round picks. Both have good first moves but have been inconsistent. Notre Dame's Anthony Weaver could be a second-rounder.
However, the Redskins could pass on a tackle and use Wynn and backup Del Cowsette for a season.
Guard is a boring pick, but it might be the most needed position given that the Redskins are rebuilding the interior line for the third straight year. If Washington doesn't pass block effectively or plow the lane for running back Stephen Davis, taking a receiver would be pointless since he wouldn't get enough chances. The defense can work around tackle problems and there are enough receivers, but the Redskins are desperately thin at guard.
Nebraska guard Toniu Fonoti delivered more than 300 pancake blocks for the Cornhuskers. The Outland Trophy finalist would be a solid 18th selection, but Auburn's Kendall Simmons may be a better run blocker. Colorado's Andre Gurode also is a potential choice.
However, the Redskins have done well in the second round with offensive linemen like tackle Jon Jansen (1999), center Cory Raymer (1995) and guard Tre Johnson (1994). They might wait for Mississippi's Terrence Metcalf or Tennessee's Fred Weary.
Quarterback? Tulane's Patrick Ramsey is rated the draft's third best passer after Fresno State's David Carr and Oregon's Joey Harrington. The pocket passer's high accuracy makes him well suited for Spurrier's system. Ramsey might be a reach at 18th, but he won't last until the Redskins's 52nd overall second-rounder.
Washington still is expected to trade for Chicago quarterback Shane Matthews once the Bears sign free agent Chris Chandler. It could be a draft day trade because the Bears don't want to deal Matthews to his former college coach until ensuring that they have a veteran backup at a reasonable price that would be inflated should Matthews already be swapped.
Matthews would compete with Danny Wuerffel for the starting job, with Ramsey edging Sage Rosenfels for No.3 as a rookie. Ramsey would be a rare long-term marquee move for a team with its fourth coach since December 1999.
Safety could be the second-round pick. The Redskins want to upgrade both strong safety Sam Shade and free safety David Terrell. Washington State's Lamont Thompson could be taken after a Pac-10 record 26 career interceptions.
Following the draft, the Redskins will seek minimum-priced veterans to fill the remaining gaps, much like last season when they signed quarterback Tony Banks, guard Dave Szott, safety Keith Lyle, returner Eric Metcalf and running back Ki-Jana Carter. Another season of heavy roster turnover is seemingly just starting.

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