- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 20, 2002

The Washington Redskins should make one of three quarterback acquisitions during today's early stages of the NFL Draft, allowing their muddled situation behind center to grow far clearer.
First, the Redskins could trade up from No.18 overall to select Oregon's Joey Harrington. Second, they could trade down or stay put and reach for Tulane's Patrick Ramsey. Third, they could deal a low-round pick to the Chicago Bears for veteran Shane Matthews, a former star under Redskins coach Steve Spurrier at Florida.
Regardless, Washington should have a better idea of who will run Spurrier's high-powered offense in the coach's first season.
Obtaining Harrington is the club's favored move. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound player is considered by most scouts to be a franchise-caliber quarterback and by more than a few even a better prospect than Fresno State's David Carr, who is going No.1 overall to the Houston Texans.
Carr's key attributes relate to his arm, which is both strong and has a swift release. He also offers a prototypical frame (6-foot-3, 223 pounds), short learning curve, impressive leadership and maturity, and decent mobility qualities that round out the picture of preeminence that begins with his throwing gifts.
But some scouts question Carr's arm motion, which often drops to three-quarters, and wonder whether his intangibles are as impressive as Harrington's. The Oregon passer went 25-3 as a starter after stepping in late in his sophomore year. He rallied the Ducks to 13 victories after they were tied or trailing at halftime, and he capped his career with a 28-for-42, 350-yard, four-touchdown scorching of Colorado in the Fiesta Bowl.
Harrington wins with his ability to rally teammates and inspire confidence. He doesn't mind accepting the burden of expections, and he lets everyone on offense know that they can rely on him.
"[Teammates] see a guy who's confident and who knows what to do in every situation," Harrington said last month at the NFL Scouting Combine. "I pride myself on that. I want 10 guys who can look in my eyes in the huddle and trust me."
He also is braced for early struggles in the NFL and is prepared to use them as learning experiences for later success. He believes he can sidestep the pitfalls that brought down top college passers like Ryan Leaf, Heath Shuler and Akili Smith.
"You need to know how to get your bell rung," Harrington said. "You see a lot of quarterbacks [drafted to be franchise players] play early and lose that confidence. They might not get it back for five years."
But the Redskins' odds of getting Harrington appear long. Any club drafting third through 10th could select him, and the Cincinnati Bengals seem certain not to let him get past them at No.10. Washington is trying to trade up, but it would be a very costly move.
Far easier would be drafting Ramsey, who has rallied to predictions of a late first- or early second-round selection with strong postseason efforts.
Tulane went 3-9 Ramsey's senior year, when he threw 22 interceptions to just 13 touchdowns in a run-and-shoot offense. His performance and girth (6-2 and nearly 240 pounds back then) left him considerably behind Carr and Harrington in scouts' evaluations.
But Ramsey hit nine of 13 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown in winning MVP honors at the Senior Bowl. He also lost 20 pounds, bringing him down to about 219, and performed well at the combine.
Certainly Ramsey does not appear to be as polished or gifted as Carr and Harrington, but many clubs feel he could be extremely effective with a bit more touch, patience and decision-making. No.18 would be a reach, but the Redskins could trade down about 10 spots, acquire a quality additional pick and then take Ramsey.
Matthews might join the Redskins regardless of what happens this weekend. Chicago, which recently signed talented veteran Chris Chandler to back up Jim Miller, might cut Matthews, allowing Washington to sign him for around the minimum. But a long-anticipated trade finally might occur today if the Redskins do not get Harrington or Ramsey, with the team hoping to add a final passer to a group that includes Danny Wuerffel, Sage Rosenfels and Dameyune Craig.

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