- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 3, 2002

INDIANAPOLIS Washington Redskins coach Steve Spurrier made his first trip to the NFL Combine yesterday with basically two scouting interests: wide receivers and quarterbacks. And he didn't even need much information on the wide receivers, having spent the past several years coaching two of the best at the University of Florida.
Gators underclassmen Jabar Gaffney and Reche Caldwell are among the highest-rated wideouts in next month's draft, and Spurrier should have the chance to pick at least one of them when the Redskins select 18th overall.
Receiver is one of Washington's primary focuses this offseason as Spurrier attempts to transfer his high-powered offense to the NFL. Drafting Gaffney or Caldwell would bring yet another ex-Gator to a Redskins offensive skill position; already the club has traded for quarterback Danny Wuerffel and signed receivers Reidel Anthony and Chris Doering.
As one might expect, Washington's interviews yesterday with Gaffney and Caldwell lacked most of the usual formalities.
"I went in and it was like all the coaches from college, just with different color shirts," Caldwell said with a laugh. "I couldn't stay in there very long because they already knew everything about me."
As Washington builds its receiving corps, Rod Gardner is certain to be a top target after catching 46 balls as a rookie. But starter Michael Westbrook is an unrestricted free agent and No. 3 wideout Kevin Lockett appears a likely cut. Thus the Redskins might be looking for a starter when the draft begins April 21.
Spurrier, though, won't be able to count on selecting Gaffney. The redshirt sophomore, who measured 6-foot-1, 193 pounds yesterday, is expected to be one of the first receivers taken after scoring in an astounding 19 of 24 college games. In 2000, he might have been the nation's best freshman; last season he earned first-team All-American honors with 67 catches, 1,191 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Early in college, Spurrier kicked Gaffney off the Gators for stealing a watch and some cash from the team locker room. But an apology and support from Gaffney's teammates and family, four members of which are former Gators, convinced Spurrier to reverse the decision.
Gaffney's record in recent years still isn't spotless; it includes making a throat-slashing gesture during a game and being accused of beating up a teen-ager who stole his motor scooter. But Gaffney seemingly has matured, and this weekend he owned up to his past during meetings with NFL teams.
"They just want to hear you tell the truth," Gaffney said. "I don't have any problem telling the truth."
Caldwell, a redshirt junior, has questions of his own, but they mostly involve whether he can star without Gaffney drawing the focus of opposing defenses. Caldwell (whose first name is pronounced REE-shay) caught 65 passes for 1,059 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, and yesterday he measured just under 6-foot and weighed 195 pounds.
"They're very good players," Spurrier said. "Jabar Gaffney, Reche Caldwell, Taylor Jacobs [a Gators underclassmen who considered leaving but stayed] all three of them. They'll probably all be first-round picks."
Spurrier, speaking during a news conference here, made no attempt to hide the fact that his personnel interests pretty much begin and end with the offensive skill positions. In fact, at one point he directed a question about newly signed Pro Bowl linebacker Jessie Armstead to defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis quite a contrast from former coach Marty Schottenheimer, who barred assistant coaches from speaking to the media.
Later Spurrier was asked whether he would be scouting players besides quarterbacks and wide receivers. He replied, "Mainly those and running backs. We'll look at those a little bit. But we've got Hue Jackson, our running backs coach, to look at the running backs."
Spurrier added that he isn't looking for more personnel input.
"I think I have control over enough," Spurrier said. "But, as far as defensive players are concerned, we have Marvin Lewis, an excellent staff and excellent personnel people. They're going to handle that."
Despite Spurrier's tight focus, he's likely to have heavy input on Washington's first pick. If the Redskins want a receiver, their non-Gators options could include LSU's Josh Reed, Tennessee's Donte Stallworth, Hawaii's Ashley Lelie and Pittsburgh's Antonio Bryant. The club also might have a chance to draft Oregon quarterback Joey Harrington or, in the second round, take one of several promising passers, including LSU's Rohan Davey, Tulane's Patrick Ramsey and Illinois' Kurt Kittner.



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