- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 9, 2004

The Washington Redskins appear increasingly likely to go one-and-done on draft day.

Sources inside and outside the organization in recent days indicate Washington is strongly considering using the draft’s fifth selection overall on one of two University of Miami players, safety Sean Taylor or tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., rather than trading down for more picks.

The Redskins own just one other selection in next month’s draft, a fifth-rounder that is tentatively committed as compensation for St. Louis Rams cornerback Jerametrius Butler. The Rams have until Friday to match Washington’s six-year, $15million offer sheet; if they don’t, they will get the fifth-round pick.

Butler’s situation not withstanding, a lot could happen by 1:15p.m. on April24, the approximate time Washington would be using the fifth pick overall. Another NFL club could make an attractive offer to trade up, particularly if Iowa offensive tackle Robert Gallery makes it past the New York Giants at No.4 overall.



Washington also could deal one of its own players. But talk surrounding wide receiver Rod Gardner seems to have died down, and club officials said cornerback Fred Smoot would not be dealt regardless of whether Butler is acquired. Quarterback Patrick Ramsey is not on the market.

But at present, the Redskins seem to have a fair shot of making just one selection on draft day, which easily would be a franchise low. The club’s smallest draft class came last year, when it made just three choices, and before that the Redskins had selected a class as small as five only twice (1979 and 2001).

The interest in Taylor and Winslow decreases the likelihood of a trade down. The Redskins clearly hold the pair above other players they could take in that part of the draft. The team appears somewhat concerned Winslow will be off the board by that point, meaning Taylor is the more likely choice. In fact, one club source said the strong likelihood of picking Taylor has contributed to the decision not to dip into a so-so class of free agent safeties.

Taylor often gets mentioned in the same context as the Dallas Cowboys’ Roy Williams, who was selected eighth overall in 2002. Williams, however, is more of a strong safety who can support the run and dish out punishing hits. Taylor (6-foot-3, 230 pounds) has much better range and cover skills while maintaining a physical presence.

Washington assistant head coach for defense Gregg Williams covets versatile safeties in his aggressive scheme. In addition, drafting Taylor would allow the Redskins’ Matt Bowen to play his more natural strong safety spot.

Selecting Winslow would give coach Joe Gibbs’ offense another potential playmaker. Winslow (6-5, 230) would be considered more of an H-back in Gibbs’ set, with newly signed Walter Rasby still projected to start at the true tight end position and get the bulk of blocking duties.

At H-back, Winslow would have the opportunity to catch 60 or more passes a year, and he could stretch defenses that are trying to stop running back Clinton Portis and double-cover wide receiver Laveranues Coles.

The Redskins have become increasingly willing to part with picks under owner Dan Snyder, vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato and now Gibbs. The mentality is that a veteran acquired in return for any given pick (through a trade or compensation) would contribute more quickly (and perhaps more effectively) than a potential draftee.

Snyder and Cerrato championed the theory last year, and in recent days a source familiar with Gibbs said the coach, too, always has preferred investing in proven commodities over rookies who might or might not pan out.

Last year Washington used picks for wide receiver Laveranues Coles (first round), running back Trung Canidate (fourth), return man Chad Morton (fifth), safety Matt Bowen (sixth) and defensive tackle Jermaine Haley (seventh).

This year the Redskins’ selections have gone for running back Clinton Portis (second), quarterback Mark Brunell (third), Morton (fourth) and defensive tackles Lional Dalton and Martin Chase (sixth and seventh).

Of the 10 acquisitions, Dalton has been cut and Chase is an unrestricted free agent who won’t be back. Canidate could be cut later this offseason for salary-cap space.

Notes — Linebacker Greg Favors was scheduled to arrive in Washington last night. No signing appeared imminent. … Center/guard Eric Beverly visited the Atlanta Falcons and could make trips to other teams in coming days. The Redskins would like to sign Beverly to compete with center Lennie Friedman. … Redskins wide receiver Patrick Johnson visited the Cincinnati Bengals. …

New York Giants linebacker Brandon Short told Phoenix-area reporters that he would visit the Redskins tomorrow. Short was in Arizona to talk to the Cardinals.

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