- The Washington Times - Monday, April 28, 2003

The Washington Redskins twice addressed a lingering need yesterday, drafting Indiana quarterback Gibran Hamdan and agreeing to a deal with undrafted Iowa passer Brad Banks, but they failed to get anyone at the pressing spot of punter.
Selecting Hamdan in the seventh round capped what the club considers a promising three-man draft class, while picking up Banks, the Heisman Trophy runner-up, highlighted a 12-man crop of undrafted college players.
But the Redskins struck out on the four options they considered viable at punter. Two of the prospects were drafted Western Illinois' Mike Scifres (fifth round) and Idaho State's Eddie Johnson (sixth) while Ohio State's Andy Groom signed with Tampa Bay and Northern Iowa's Derrick Frost signed with Philadelphia.
Several possibilities, including former Ohio State punter Brent Bartholomew, a 1999 sixth-round pick by Miami, will work out later this week. The club eventually could turn to a veteran like Tom Tupa if incumbent Bryan Barker, who struggled through 2002, doesn't return to form and no young punters emerge.
Barker will be among those scrutinized in the highly anticipated upcoming minicamp, set for Friday through Sunday. After acquiring 13 new players before the draft and adding this weekend's allotment, the Redskins are eager to see everyone on the field together and find out if any more additions are needed.
"It gives us an opportunity to see what we've done thus far, and see if there's anything we need to address or any weaknesses that we didn't know we had," personnel director Vinny Cerrato said.
But the roster is nearly complete. Cerrato speculated that "95 percent" of the final team will come from the group on the field this weekend.
A seventh-round pick was spent on Hamdan, who lives in Potomac and attended Bishop O'Connell. Owning a sparse resume but an impressive frame (6-foot-4, 219 pounds) and a willingness to learn, Hamdan joined Saturday's two picks, wide receiver Taylor Jacobs and offensive lineman Derrick Dockery, in the Redskins' smallest-ever draft class.
But the organization believes it was very productive with those few selections and the five it spent prior to the draft four on restricted free agents and one in a trade. The Redskins considered both Jacobs and Dockery first-round talents, and coach Steve Spurrier sees Hamdan as a terrific prospect at the No. 3, or developmental, quarterback spot.
"If I told you he can drop back and throw it about like [Kyle] Boller and Carson Palmer and those guys, you'd think I'm crazy," Spurrier said, referring to two first-round quarterbacks. "But come out here this weekend and watch him throw."
Banks in many ways is the opposite of Hamdan possessing thrilling college credentials but virtually none of the prototypical NFL traits. He was named college football's player of the year by the Associated Press after leading Iowa to an 11-2 record, but his small stature (under 5-foot-11) and inconsistent arm make him an NFL longshot.
Safety is another position that will be looked at during the minicamp, but preliminary indications are that Washington will hold off on signing any veterans.
The spot was viewed as the Redskins' priority entering the draft, and club officials strongly considered Ohio State's Mike Doss in the second round. But defensive coordinator George Edwards yesterday said he likes his three current options at strong safety, noting that two of them Ifeanyi Ohalete and David Terrell started last season on the NFL's fifth-ranked defense.
Joining Ohalete (last year's strong safety) and Terrell (the free safety recently replaced by Matt Bowen) is 2002 fifth-round pick Andre Lott.
"We feel very confident in the guys we have at safety right now," Edwards said.
The only veteran free agent likely to be targeted before the minicamp seems to be defensive tackle Michael Myers, who visited last week and considered a minimum-salary offer. He now probably will draw interest from his former team, Dallas, which did not select a defensive lineman in the draft.
The rest of the dozen names of the undrafted players will be released today. Cerrato said that several local players, including Bowie State wide receiver James Johnson, were among the six offensive and six defensive players who agreed to deals. Sources said Texas Tech running back Preston Hartfield also is among the new Redskins.
The Redskins wanted more picks in the draft but were unable to work out any trades. The best offer they got for trading down in the third round was two fourth-rounders, and Spurrier said they failed in an attempt to move a fifth- or sixth-round pick in 2004 for a selection yesterday. Washington also tried to gauge the market value of cornerback Fred Smoot but didn't complete a deal.

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