- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Heading into this weekend’s NFL draft, the Washington Redskins have more picks than they’ve had in six years, but executive vice president Vinny Cerrato said that wasn’t by design.

“I don’t think it’s a change of philosophy,” Cerrato said yesterday at the team’s annual predraft media gathering. “We got the [three compensatory picks]. Otherwise, we would have had six picks. There are [fewer] and [fewer worthwhile] free agents, it seems like, every year. The [money] that the players in free agency were getting was not the value that we put on them other than re-signing our own guys. That’s just the way it worked out this year.

“There are three ways to acquire players: free agency, trades and the draft. This year, it happens to be the draft.”

Washington has all seven of its original choices except the fourth-rounder, which went to Denver in the three-way trade for running back T.J. Duckett in August 2006.

The Redskins were awarded a pick at the end of the third round and two at the end of the seventh for their free agent losses, including Duckett, following the 2006 season.

The Redskins selected just 11 players during the past two drafts. Washington’s four picks in the first three rounds equals its total from the past three years and are its most that early since 2002.

“It’s exciting having all these draft picks,” Cerrato said. “Last year, we had the sixth pick and didn’t pick again until the fifth round.”

Not that the Redskins will sit tight with each of their picks. They traded up to take tight end Chris Cooley in 2004, quarterback Jason Campbell in 2005 and linebacker Rocky McIntosh in 2006 and traded down before choosing quarterback Patrick Ramsey with the last choice of the first round in 2002.

“We’ve always been an aggressive team,” Cerrato said. “If there’s somebody there that we like, we’ll make an effort [to acquire him]. We’re not afraid of doing anything.”

To that end, Cerrato said that over the last couple of days he has contacted the 10 teams picking below the Redskins in the first round and those at the top of the second round to see if they want to move up to No. 21, perhaps to choose a quarterback.

“We realize the value of draft picks, especially in the [salary] cap era,” Cerrato said. “If you want to pay your starters a lot of money, then it’s got to come from somewhere.”

Given that the Redskins have all their starters back, they don’t have a crying need to fill a certain position with the 21st pick.

And, while they won’t choose a quarterback, a running back or a tight end that high, almost anything else is possible.

Cerrato maintained that the Redskins will take the proverbial “best player on the board,” but added that offensive line, defensive line, receiver and cornerback are their biggest needs.

“The biggest mistakes are made when you reach for a player,” said Cerrato, adding that this draft has more depth than last year’s.

Notes: New coach Jim Zorn, in his first draft above the level of position coach, has been involved in all the draft preparations, only taking an hour each day to work with Campbell and the other quarterbacks. Therefore, Zorn’s entire playbook won’t be finished for the May 2-4 minicamp, the only one he’s conducting. … While Washington needs to enhance its pass rush and Kansas City is shopping top passrusher Jared Allen, a Redskins source said the team isn’t interested because the 26-year-old defensive end he could face a 1-year suspension if he’s flagged with a third driving under the influence charge. Allen was suspended for the first two games of 2007 following two DUIs but still led the league with 15.5 sacks.


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