- The Washington Times - Friday, February 21, 2003

INDIANAPOLIS Ask Dewayne Robertson which current NFL players he most closely resembles, and the former Kentucky defensive tackle names two of the game's best: Warren Sapp and John Randle.
"That's who I try to imitate my game after, just their attitude, their hunger for the game," Robertson said.
It seems an unusual choice: The unassuming, somewhat timid Robertson comparing himself to the boisterous, yammering Sapp and Randle. But, as Robertson notes, first impressions can be deceiving.
"I know I seem quiet," he said. "But once I'm out there on the field, I'm a whole different person."
One of a bevy of top-rated defensive linemen in this year's draft class, Robertson distinguishes himself in a number of ways not the least of which is a style of play that few would expect from a 6-foot-1, 317-pound interior lineman.
Where most defensive tackles of his stature would be content to stay in the trenches and muscle their way to the quarterback or running back, Robertson is the rare big man with speed who once cut off Antwaan Randle El before the former Indiana quarterback could turn the corner.
It was that incredible mobility that prompted one Lexington columnist to conclude last fall that Robertson "defies the laws of physics."
The Washington Redskins might be hoping he defies the probabilities of the NFL Draft as well and remains available when the 13th pick of the first round comes up April26. That might be asking too much, though, because Robertson has been popular this week at the NFL scouting combine.
The Redskins were one of nine teams to formally interview the 21-year-old tackle Wednesday night, and Robertson expects more to come calling before the combine ends this weekend.
But with big-name defensive linemen like Arizona State's Terrell Suggs, Penn State's Jimmy Kennedy and Miami's William Joseph drawing even more attention, Robertson might be on the board when it comes time for Washington's first-round pick.
Much will depend on how the Redskins' interior line situation develops over the next two months.
The fate of team MVP Daryl Gardener should be determined within days, as club officials prepare to meet with the representative for the unrestricted free agent this weekend in talks about a new contract. Veteran Dan Wilkinson, who started opposite Gardener, is likely to be cut after June1, when he'll have less of an impact on the salary cap. And little progress has been made toward re-signing top backup Carl Powell, another unrestricted free agent.
By draft day, the Redskins could be in desperate need of a rookie tackle. And Robertson could be the man to fill the void.
"I want to come in, be a starter on a winning team and hopefully make the Pro Bowl as a rookie," he said, flashing some of that Sapp-esque confidence. "That's something that's always been in me, the drive to be No.1."
In his brief playing career, Robertson has shown an ability to make an immediate impact. Despite never playing organized football until high school, he was a four-year starter at Memphis (Tenn.) Melrose, appearing in three state championship games.
He started as a freshman at Kentucky, and made a name for himself in the Indiana game when he forced two fumbles and managed to corral the explosive Randle El, who wreaked havoc on NFL defenses last year as a rookie receiver with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"That was a big game, the first big game I had in college," said Robertson, recalling how he convinced his coaches to let him chase down Randle El. "If I can grab him, I'm going to grab him that's just the way I think. And I got him a couple of times."
After three seasons, 114 tackles, nine sacks, five forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries, Robertson elected to bypass his senior year and declared early for the draft.
"I accomplished all of my goals in college," Robertson said. "I'm ready to move on to another challenge and to take advantage of the opportunity I have."


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