- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 18, 2002

The Washington Redskins already have plenty of bodies, if not proven stars, at wide receiver, and they think those bodies have plenty of potential. Nonetheless, speculation persists that the club will select a receiver in the first two rounds of this weekend's NFL Draft.
The latest indications are that the Redskins hope Reche (pronounced REE-shay) Caldwell, a former Florida standout under Redskins coach Steve Spurrier, falls to them in the second round. Caldwell played in the shadow of Gators teammate Jabar Gaffney and remains there now in draft discussions; most analysts see Caldwell going in the late first or early second round, while Gaffney could be gone before Washington's first pick, 18th overall.
But do the Redskins need Caldwell? Already they have a starter in Rod Gardner, last year's first-round pick. They signed former Florida standout Jacquez Green to compete for the other starting slot. They reworked the contract of Kevin Lockett, last year's No.3 target. They picked up Reidel Anthony and Chris Doering, two more Gators. And Spurrier sees potential in prospects Derrius Thompson, Darnerien McCants and Justin Skaggs.
In fact, Spurrier has gone out of his way on several occassions, most recently at Tuesday's pre-draft news conference, to defend the talent at his offensive skill positions. Saturday's first and second rounds will reveal just how confident he is in the group.
The key question for the organization is whether Green can start. Some Redskins officials believe Gardner is a budding star who lacked only maturity and a complementary speed receiver last season as he debuted with 46 catches for 741 yards. Green, a 1998 second-round pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is a legitimate NFL deep threat, but a dropoff in recent production and his small frame (5-foot-9, 168 pounds) leave questions as to whether he should start.
There are a number of receivers in this draft with outstanding speed and the size that Green lacks, including Tennessee's Donte Stallworth, Hawaii's Ashley Lelie, Florida State's Javon Walker, Gaffney, Caldwell and Virginia Tech's Andre Davis.
Receivers like Stallworth, Lelie, Walker and Gaffney are likely to go in the first round. The Redskins, however, will have difficulty taking a receiver at No.18 because of vacant starting jobs at defensive tackle and offensive guard. They also must think about drafting a quarterback of the future.
If Caldwell is available at No.52 (Washington's second pick), or if he's within trading distance, the Redskins could obtain a quick, athletic receiver who already knows Spurrier's system. Scouts have been impressed with Caldwell's body control; his size (5-113/4, 194), while not prototypical, is certainly not a concern.
If Washington is thinking receiver at No.18, Stallworth is likely to be gone. Lelie, Walker and Gaffney are rated to be available around that pick, and the Redskins might consider making any one of the three a starter alongside Gardner.
Stallworth (6-0, 197) moved ahead of his peers with an outstanding workout at Tennessee, which Spurrier attended. Although he has some injury history, his speed and talent make many clubs believe he will be a star.
Lelie (6-25/8, 197) is considered by some to be the draft's most promising wideout, while others say he's overrated. His size and speed make him an ideal first-round pick, but some wonder whether his big numbers were a product of the run-and-shoot offense at Hawaii. Walker (6-23/4, 210), who spent two years playing minor-league baseball, possesses similarly outstanding physical attributes.
Gaffney (6-1, 193) had a knack for scoring at Florida, setting a DivisionI freshman record with 14 touchdowns in 2000. The sophomore entry has great hands and athleticism and obviously is familiar with Spurrier. That relationship also puts Washington in the best position to evaluate lingering concerns about his character.
LSU's Josh Reed and Pittsburgh's Antonio Bryant might sneak into the late first round. Reed, a former running back with a compact build, is tough and productive. Bryant has tons of talent but questions about how determined he is to use it. Davis, a track star who remains a bit unpolished, may fall to the second round with Auburn's Tim Carter, Utah's Cliff Russell and Michigan's Marquise Walker.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide