- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 27, 2003

An ironic twist in the NFL Draft yesterday left the Washington Redskins with the player they strongly considered last month before giving up their first-round pick.
Washington used its second-round selection (44th overall) on Florida wide receiver Taylor Jacobs, considered by many to be the third-best receiver behind Michigan State's Charles Rogers (who went second overall to Detroit) and Miami's Andre Johnson (third overall to Houston).
Massive offensive lineman Derrick Dockery of Texas then was taken in the third round (81st), bolstering the depth on Washington's offensive line but also ending any hopes of trading back for more picks. That all but ensured the smallest draft class in Redskins history (three players).
Washington's only other selection comes in this afternoon's seventh round (232nd), thanks to five picks being dealt before the draft four for restricted free agents and one in a trade.
The first-round selection (13th overall) was given to the New York Jets on March 19 as compensation for wide receiver Laveranues Coles. Back then, Washington weighed signing Coles to an offer sheet against trying to trade up for Rogers or Johnson or staying put and using the pick on Jacobs.
Jacobs' surprising drop into the middle of the second round ended up leaving Washington with the best of two worlds.
"People ask me why he was still there," said coach Steve Spurrier, who coached Jacobs for three seasons at Florida. "I don't know. You look at all the ratings of wide receivers, almost all of them had Charlie Rogers, Andre Johnson and Taylor Jacobs.
"Our owner, Dan Snyder, when the choice became available, he said, 'Gosh, we were thinking about drafting him with the 13th pick, and now we've got a chance to go get him with the 44th. We've got to do it.' … He and [personnel director] Vinny [Cerrato] and myself and really everybody in there, we said this is the best player we can draft."
Only three receivers were taken before Jacobs Rogers, Johnson and Penn State's Bryant Johnson (17th to Arizona) as there was a run on linebackers and defensive backs in the late first and early second rounds. That left Jacobs an unquestioned value at No.44.
"Some of us said he was very close to [Rogers and Andre Johnson]," Spurrier said. "One or two guys preferred him, because of his route-running ability and knowledge of our system and everything else. We feel lucky we got him."
Said Cerrato: "Of all the scenarios we discussed at No.44, [Jacobs falling to Washington] never came up."
Safety appeared to be the Redskins' top priority entering the draft, and they had the chance to draft one of the top prospects at that position, Ohio State's Mike Doss, in the second round. Doss ended up going to Indianapolis later in the round, 58th overall.
In the third round, the Redskins wanted to trade back for more picks and remained hopeful of bolstering their defense. But Cerrato said two fourth-rounders was the best available deal and that five Redskins scouts had given the 6-foot-6, 347-pound Dockery first-round grades.
Dockery's fall could be attributed to poor pre-draft workouts. But the Redskins loved the way he played and believe he can back up right tackle Jon Jansen and possibly left tackle Chris Samuels while offering the versatility of playing guard, his position through most of college.
"In my opinion, he might have been one of the best players on the board for quite awhile," offensive line coach Kim Helton said. "The sky's the limit for him. He kind of fell into our lap. Sometimes you just get lucky."
Wide receiver wasn't considered a top need, though the Redskins remained interested in adding someone to compete for the No.3 spot behind Coles and Rod Gardner. The availability of Jacobs superseded any thought of going for a safety or trading down.
"If Taylor Jacobs had not been available, we probably would not have drafted a receiver with this pick," Spurrier said. "Sometimes you say, 'Hey, you can't pass on this player.'"
The coach really likes his former Gator, believing Jacobs has the speed, hands and athleticism to be a productive pro. But the recent NFL history of Gators offensive stars including Spurrier's botched experiment with former Florida quarterbacks and wide receivers last year left him reluctant to push too hard.
"That's why owner Dan Snyder made the final call," Spurrier said. "[Ultimately,] I had to say, 'Forget he's from Florida. Rate him on his ability as a player.'"
Acquiring Jacobs continued Washington's massive upgrade of offensive personnel, which has focused on adding speed at the skill positions and blocking for young quarterback Patrick Ramsey. Including yesterday's picks, 10 of Washington's 15 newcomers this offseason have been on offense.
Additional picks today are extremely unlikely. Snyder has ruled out trading current players and has said he doesn't want to dip into next year's selections.
About 14 undrafted players are expected to be signed after today's proceedings. Between that group and the seventh-round selection, the Redskins are expected to pick up a punter and a developmental quarterback.

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