- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 26, 2003

Seventh-round draft picks rarely get much attention, aside from the guys who are taken dead last and become each season's "Mr. Irrelevant."
Local fans might want to keep at least one eye on the draft's last round this year, though, because the Washington Redskins' final selections this weekend could prove anything but irrelevant.
Two of Washington's needs are for precisely the kind of players drafted in the late rounds: a punter and a third-string quarterback. The Redskins could address either position with their seventh-round pick (Nos.232 overall).
The Redskins will face a difficult decision tomorrow afternoon: Should they use the pick on a punter or a quarterback or try to fill those needs with undrafted free agents?
"There's not a lot of difference between a seventh-rounder and a free agent," coach Steve Spurrier said. "In fact, I think most players would rather be free agents than be drafted in the seventh, because then they have a choice of which team to go to. So we'll be recruiting a lot of players Sunday afternoon when the draft is over to sign as free agents."
A good punter can be worth as much as a fourth- or fifth-round selection, according to Redskins personnel director Vinny Cerrato, though the best of this year's crop don't figure to be taken before the seventh round.
There are several intriguing possibilities, most notably Ohio State's Andy Groom and Maryland's Brooks Barnard. Both worked out for the Redskins earlier this month, with special teams coach Mike Stock reiterating to each the club's commitment to improving its punting game.
The Redskins ranked 31st in the league in net punting average last season (30.0 yards). Although veteran Bryan Barker will be given a chance to regain his past form, the club wants to bring in a young punter to challenge him during training camp.
"We could draft [a punter], if we think there is one that can really help us," Spurrier said. "We lost a ton of yards last year in the punt exchange. We were really bad late in the year. So we need a good punter."
The Redskins also need a third-string quarterback to back up second-year starter Patrick Ramsey and veteran Rob Johnson. Fellow veteran Danny Wuerffel could return to fill the position, but most in the organization would rather bring in a young quarterback as a developmental project.
Any number of quality quarterbacks could be available in the seventh round, including Texas Tech's Kliff Kingsbury, Washington State's Jason Gesser and Heisman Trophy finalist Brad Banks of Iowa.


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