- The Washington Times - Monday, April 30, 2007

They were unwilling to address the run defense and pass rush issues, didn’t make a play to establish more depth along the offensive line and weren’t inclined to pick a receiver who could push Brandon Lloyd out of town.

But it’s what the Washington Redskins didn’t do during this weekend’s NFL Draft that should serve as a good sign, an indication the front office — and most importantly, the owner — has learned a lesson.

The Redskins started this draft with six picks in the 2008 draft, including selections in rounds 1, 2 and 3.

The Redskins ended this draft with all of those picks at their disposal.

There were 26 trades completed during the two days, and the Redskins weren’t involved in any.

They didn’t trade the 2008 first-rounder — along with other picks — to draft Calvin Johnson.

They didn’t throw away the second- or third-rounder to acquire a player under contract.

And they didn’t do anything aggressive, which is one of coach Joe Gibbs’ favorite words when describing the Redskins’ player procurement procedure.

When pundits said the Redskins were restrained during the free agent season, signing only London Fletcher and Fred Smoot during the first weekend, that was baloney. A team with little salary cap space has no choice but to remain on the sideline.

The Redskins showed true restraint this weekend when it would have been easy to blow up the future to make a play for Johnson or any of the franchise players who are embroiled in contract disputes. Additionally, they didn’t sacrifice any 2008 picks to squeeze into the second or third rounds late Saturday night.

“We feel pretty good about the fact that we have pretty much a full draft,” Gibbs said yesterday after the Redskins completed their portion of the draft by picking two linebackers, a quarterback and a tight end.

“In the back of my mind and I had mentioned it a couple times that as we went through this draft, it would be fun to have the whole draft next year,” he added. “We kind of always felt that way. Things worked out the first three years in a certain way.”

Upon Gibbs’ return in January 2004, he said, “we felt like we had a lot of holes to fill,” and the Redskins traded a second-round pick in the Clinton Portis deal and a third-round pick for Mark Brunell. Coupled with deals by the previous coaching staff, that left the Redskins with only four draft picks.

Since then, James Thrash (fifth-rounder), Lloyd (third- and fourth-round picks) and T.J. Duckett (third-rounder this year and a fourth-rounder next year) have been acquired while depleting the chance to find cheaper and younger alternatives through the draft.

The Redskins’ brass pointed out last week that the draft’s best value is often found in the second round. Carolina found two future starters — receiver Dwayne Jarrett and center Ryan Kalil — in round 2. Not since 2002 have the Redskins had picks in the first and second round in the same year.

Gibbs didn’t rule out using any of next year’s picks if the need should arise between now and the start of the season, such as an injury. Clinton Portis’ mangled shoulder forced the Duckett deal in August.

“I don’t think we would hesitate to make a trade [involving draft picks] if the right player would benefit our football team, and then, obviously, next year’s picks could come into play,” Gibbs said. “It helps you going forward should something come up later on or in preparation for the season or as we start the season. We have the flexibility if we want to use next year’s draft if we need to get a player.”

Barring long-term injuries on the offensive or defensive lines, the Redskins should strive to keep all of their remaining 2008 picks.

Gibbs was asked whether the keep-the-picks strategy represents a change in how the Redskins will operate as long as he is here.

“I don’t think it’s a shift in philosophy,” he said. “Our deal is, like I’ve said over and over again, we want to get a player any way we can. We’re one of the teams that is aggressive.”

But sometimes, not being aggressive works, too.

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