- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 4, 2003

When you own the No. 44 overall selection in the NFL Draft — and none of the top 43 picks — you’re going to have plenty of time to sit around and contemplate your options.By the time commissioner Paul Tagliabue finally calls on the Washington Redskins early Saturday evening, the huddled masses inside the club’s war room may have come to a surprising conclusion: They might be wise to spend their second-round pick on a wide receiver.The Redskins, of course, have already made a concerted effort to improve their receiving corps during their free agency blitzkrieg. Washington signed Laveranues Coles to a seven-year, $35 million deal, giving up its first-round pick to the New York Jets as compensation for the restricted free agent. The club also signed speedster Patrick Johnson, who got his start in Baltimore and played for Jacksonville last season.So why spend the first of your four precious draft picks on yet another receiver when there would appear to be more pressing needs at safety and defensive tackle?Because in Steve Spurrier’s offense, you can never have enough receivers, and when the Redskins look at the names still on the board in the second round, they may find it difficult to pass on someone who could make an immediate impact.The highly touted likes of Charles Rogers, Andre Johnson and Taylor Jacobs will be gone hours before Washington makes its selection. But given this year’s deep class, there figure to be several quality receivers available in the second round.”I think this is one of the best classes in a long time,” said Penn State’s Bryant Johnson, a projected second-round pick. “[There are] a lot of big guys and a lot of guys who made a lot of plays last year. … If a team wants you, they’re going to take you.”With Coles and Rod Gardner already under contract, the Redskins don’t need to find another starting receiver. But Spurrier loves to spread three, four or even five wideouts across the line of scrimmage in his Fun ‘N’ Gun scheme, and at the moment, his options beyond Coles and Gardner aren’t dazzling.Spurrier was excited to sign Patrick Johnson last month, because the former NCAA track star has the kind of blazing speed the “Ballcoach” loves. But Johnson’s track record on the football field is minimal — in five NFL seasons, he has 67 receptions, only nine of which came last year with the Jaguars — so it would be difficult to anoint him as the Redskins’ No. 3 receiver.Darnerian McCants caught 21 passes in his first NFL season, but is not seen as an ideal fit in Washington’s offense. And though Spurrier is eager to see speedy Cliff Russell in action, last year’s third-round pick is coming off knee surgery and has yet to play a down in the NFL.The kind of receivers who figure to be available in this year’s second round are likely to be better prospects than the returning players and many draft watchers believe there are several in the group who could contribute immediately as a No. 3 receiver.The best of the lot are Penn State’s Johnson and Tennessee’s Kelley Washington. Each could go late in the first round, but either could still be around when the Redskins select.A 6-foot-2, 214-pound blazer who runs a 4.37 40-yard dash, Johnson is known for his good hands, athleticism and strong character. His all-around skills may earn him a late first-round selection, but the Redskins would surely pounce on him if he remained available at No. 44.Washington brings some questions with him — he spent four years as a minor-leaguer in the Florida Marlins’ system, played football at Tennessee for only two years and has a lingering neck injury. But no one questions his athletic abilities, and at 6-foot-2, 223 pounds, he won’t be on the draft board long.”I feel I can create some mismatches, as far as matching up against smaller corners,” Washington said. “[Im a] bigger guy with some speed who can create havoc on a football field.”Illinois’ Brandon Lloyd has the physical proportions (6-foot, 184 pounds) of a speed receiver. Surprisingly, he only ran a 4.62 40-yard dash, lowering his stock. But he remains a polished, smooth receiver who figures to be taken in the second round, perhaps right around the Redskins’ draft position.”I’m a ‘real’ receiver,” Lloyd said. “I ran pro-style routes and an offense in college, so I think the transition will be easier for me than a lot of guys.”Other potential second-round receivers include Virginia’s Billy McMullen (who has good size but is slower than his counterparts), Middle Tennessee State’s Tyrone Calico (whose impressive workout at the scouting combine raised his stock considerably) and Utah State’s Kevin Curtis (who has blazing speed but has gone largely unrecognized).Note — The Redskins did not hear from defensive tackle Michael Myers, fueling speculation that Myers would re-evaluate his options after the Draft. Washington has offered Myers a one-year, minimum-salary deal. After the draft, a club like Dallas, his team since entering the NFL in 1998, could make a play for him.

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