- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 22, 2003

The Washington Redskins want more picks in this weekend's draft but are prepared to stay put with their meager stock, aware that it will be tough to find additional selections without compromising value.

Personnel director Vinny Cerrato said a potential trade "all depends" on how things play out Saturday, when the Redskins are scheduled to make their two meaningful picks, in the second round (12th of the round, 44th overall) and third (17th, 81st).

"I would think we would look at trading down in the second round, but we might just go ahead and make that pick," Cerrato said yesterday. "And we'll look at trading down in the third round and see what happens."

The club also has two seventh-round selections, though one could be lost to Miami this week. The Dolphins have until Friday to match Washington's four-year, $4 million offer sheet for defensive tackle Jermaine Haley or receive a seventh-round pick as compensation.

Any trades involving current Redskins appear unlikely. Although there are several players who seem tradeable among them cornerback Fred Smoot, running back Kenny Watson and safety David Terrell people around the NFL offered a variety of reasons why such moves probably won't happen.

Smoot, a 2001 second-round pick, has by far the highest profile but an uncertain market value. His name was floated in trade talks earlier this offseason when Washington was trying to trade up in the first round and has resurfaced as a potential exchange for a high second-rounder. But there are many obstacles to a trade.

To start, the Redskins don't have a clear replacement for Smoot, who remains a promising starter despite plateauing in his second season. Last year's third-round pick, Rashad Bauman, held up after winning the No. 3 corner role as a rookie, but he isn't viewed as a sure starter at this point in his career.

Also inhibiting a trade are the old character questions regarding Smoot that dropped him from the first to the second round in 2001. His actions since have proved those questions baseless, but only Washington has intimate knowledge of his character. Some other NFL teams still wonder.

In fact, several people around the league who work in personnel pointed out that Washington isn't helping itself by shopping Smoot without a replacement. Any questions about Smoot, they said, are exacerbated by the perception that the Redskins are trying to unload him.

"It makes you wonder if there's some problem on the horizon and they want to get rid of him before it surfaces," one person who works in personnel said.

The consensus in several conversations was that Washington would be lucky "ecstatic" was the word one talent evaluator used to get a second-round pick for Smoot. A third-rounder seems more likely, and the Redskins would be hard-pressed to replace Smoot with a cornerback in this year's third round.

Yet another obstacle is the fact that "draft picks are gold" at this time of the year. Clubs have spent countless hours and plenty of money readying for the draft, and this week is the most difficult time of year to pry away selections.

That's why a deal for a low-profile player like Watson or Terrell is unlikely. Watson, last year's second-string tailback, seems like solid trade bait. He began to prove himself last year, and this year, with Trung Canidate, Chad Morton and Ladell Betts on the roster, he's expendable.

But at the moment he has little value. To other clubs he's just another former undrafted rookie who has been good enough to hang around the league. And this week, teams believe they can find a better back in the draft's late rounds.

One talent evaluator said a deal for Watson would be more likely during training camp, when draftees show their true colors and some running backs are likely to be injured.

Ultimately this week, Washington might make a minor deal or two, but its draft cache probably won't be much different than it is now.

The basic plan should be this: The Redskins strongly will consider a safety with their second-round pick (where they might get one of the best players at a position of little premium) and otherwise look for depth on the defensive line, a developmental quarterback and a punter. After the second round, best-on-the-board mentality should rule.

Defensive tackle would cease to be a priority if Washington lands Haley and Dallas unrestricted free agent Michael Myers, who was scheduled to arrive in town for a visit yesterday afternoon. The club hopes to acquire both players before the draft.

The Redskins concluded draft meetings about noon yesterday, meeting with their medical staff. They went through full draft preparations this year even though they have so few picks.

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