- The Washington Times - Monday, April 30, 2007

Late Hall of Fame coach George Allen wouldn’t like the 2007 draft of his beloved Washington Redskins.

After taking a safety named Landry (the name of the hated ex-Cowboys coach) in the first round Saturday, the Redskins used their first choice yesterday on a linebacker named Dallas. Sartz, that is, a fifth-rounder out of Southern Cal who had a team-high seven sacks last season.

Washington then used the first of its two sixth-round picks on Pittsburgh inside linebacker H.B. Blades, son of 10-year NFL safety Bennie Blades. The second sixth-rounder was Texas-El Paso quarterback Jordan Palmer, brother of Cincinnati star quarterback Carson Palmer.

In the seventh round, the Redskins finally took a player without pro sports connections, Michigan’s Tyler Ecker, who has added 18 pounds in hopes of becoming an NFL blocking tight end.

Sartz and Blades followed Robert McCune, Jared Newberry, Rocky McIntosh and Kevin Simon as linebackers chosen by the Redskins in the last three drafts. Only McIntosh remains.

“We were short on numbers at linebacker, and we wanted to make sure that we would pick up a couple of guys we think can make the team,” Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said. “They’re highly productive and played at big schools. … There’s probably some merit to [sports bloodlines]. They grow up seeing their brother [and try to match him].”

The 6-foot-5, 235-pound Sartz was a three-year starter on the strong side for the Trojans. Like LaRon Landry, whose older brothers and father also were football standouts, Sartz comes from an athletic family. His grandfather, Dallas, was a Golden Gloves boxer and a professional hydroplane racer. Sartz’s father, Jeff, was a safety at Oregon State.

“A lot of the way they lived their lives taught me about how I live my life and how to compete and be the type of guy that I am,” Sartz said. “It teaches you how to go through things and compete and be who you are today. I try to implement that in my life every day.”

With Marcus Washington, probably the Redskins’ best defender, entrenched on the strong side, Sartz will have to a win a job on special teams.

“I’m a good cover guy, a good pass rush guy, and a good, solid run stopper [but] I know I’m going to be a special teams guy for quite a while,” Sartz said. “I’m definitely OK with that.”

Gibbs compared the 5-11, 237-pound Blades to starting middle linebacker London Fletcher in lacking stature but not tackling ability. Fletcher wasn’t even drafted. Blades, whose father, Bennie, was the third pick in the 1988 draft and whose uncles, Brian and Al, also were NFL players, was fourth in the nation in tackles as a senior.

“A lot of people gave me a hard time because of [my family], but I knew ultimately it came down to how I played,” said the 22-year-old Blades, who has twin daughters. “My dad was a physical freak. I know I’m not that, but I play with a lot of heart and my instincts. [I have] the gift to be able to read plays fast. I may be a sixth-round pick, but … I’m going to make a lot of plays. I can’t wait to get into minicamp next weekend to show [the Redskins] they made a great pick.”

The 6-6, 231-pound Palmer holds most of the records in the pass-oriented UTEP program. His 88 touchdown passes are 13th in Division I history. Still, draftniks questioned his decision making, just as they are skeptical about Ecker’s athleticism.

Palmer figures to spend 2007 on the practice squad behind starter Jason Campbell and veteran backups Mark Brunell and Todd Collins, who will be 37 and 36 this season, respectively. Ecker, 25, spent two years on a Mormon mission. He could claim the roster spot opened by the decision not to re-sign 36-year-old Brian Kozlowski.

All five draft picks, 13 rookie free agents whose signings could be announced as soon as today and dozens of tryout players will attend a three-day minicamp this weekend at Redskin Park.

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