- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 28, 2007

Turns out the Washington Redskins’ braintrust wasn’t bluffing about taking the best player available.

After toying with trading up and trading down, the Redskins bypassed their biggest needs and stayed put and chose LSU safety LaRon Landry with the sixth pick in yesterday’s NFL draft.

“With this pick you need to pick someone that we feel like will play for a long time and have a chance to do some outstanding things,” said coach Joe Gibbs, who attended four-time All-SEC selection

Landry’s on-campus workout earlier this month along with Redskins owner Dan Snyder and several coaches and scouts. “You’re talking about someone who takes a big portion of our salary cap.

“There are some similarities with [fourth-year safety] Sean Taylor,” Gibbs added. “LaRon covers a lot of ground. He’s a very sure tackler.

He’s also very aggressive. When he makes up his mind to go, there’s not a lot of hesitation, he’s gone.”

Landry, 22, is the third defensive back Washington has taken with a top 10 choice in the four years since coach Joe Gibbs came out of retirement in 2004, following Taylor (fifth pick, 2004) and

cornerback Carlos Rogers (ninth, 2005).

Although such defensive linemen as 19-year-old Louisville tackle Amobi Okoye and 21-year-old Arkansas end Jamaal Anderson were still on the board, the Redskins, as vice president for player personnel

Vinny Cerrato, promised on Tuesday, went for the highest-rated player on their board rather than filling their biggest needs.

“[Defensive line coach] Greg Blache feels good about [the line],” said Gibbs, citing the expected improvement of 2006 rookie tackles Kedric Golston and Anthony Montgomery and left end Phillip Daniels

having recovered from offseason surgeries on both ankles and a wrist. “There wasn’t pressure for us to do something there.”

Pressure is an appropriate word since the line combined for just 13 sacks last season as the defense plunged from ninth in 2005 to 31st last year.

And while adding the 6-foot, 213-pound Landry and veterans Fred Smoot, David Macklin and Omar Stoutmire to the secondary and signing middle linebacker London Fletcher, the Redskins haven’t enhanced their line. According to Gibbs, a trade down in the first round which would have landed a lineman along extra picks never came close to happening.

“We had charts, lists, scenarios, all the things that could happen,” said Gibbs, who didn’t have another selection until today’s fifth round thanks to 2006 trades for linebacker Rocky McIntosh, running

back T.J. Duckett and receiver Brandon Lloyd. “There wasn’t a whole lot going on, a few phone calls. But everybody was pretty happy staying pat. It’s very hard to get something done.”

Indeed, there were no trades in the top 12 of the draft.

“Tomorrow will be very important for us,” Gibbs said of rounds five through seven. “We’ve spent a lot of time on it. We’re hoping we can get some players later in the draft who have a real good chance of

making our club.”

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