- The Washington Times - Monday, April 28, 2008

The Washington Redskins wrapped up their busiest draft in six years by choosing seven players yesterday. However, they chose as many punters (one) as they did defensive linemen.

The latter came just 10 picks from the end of the draft with Kansas State defensive end Rob Jackson, whom new line coach John Palermo hopes can be the next Anthony Montgomery and Kedric Golston, second-day linemen from 2006 who became starters within two years.

“Linebacker was not a deep [position] this year,” said Redskins executive vice president Vinny Cerrato, who devoted two of his 13 signings of undrafted players last night to the position. “D-line, the thing about it is if you don’t get ‘em early, you get in the fifth, sixth round, you say, ‘Does that guy have a chance to make the team?’ We brought [defensive coordinator Greg] Blache in there and said, ‘What do you think?’ He said, ‘No. Take those other positions, first.’ ”

The day began with the logical choice in the third round of 6-foot-5, 311-pound Northern Iowa offensive lineman Chad Rinehart, whose 88.5 career blocking consistency grade was the highest of any Division I lineman in the past 15 years.

Rinehart played left tackle in college but did well at guard in the Senior Bowl and will be given a look at center with the Redskins, who are set at left tackle with the 30-year-old Chris Samuels and might have their heir apparent to 32-year-old right tackle Jon Jansen in Stephon Heyer, who made a good impression as a rookie free agent in 2007.

“I like to go out and kind of hit the guys, and I feel like I’m intelligent,” Rinehart said. “My awareness on the field stands out.”

Rinehart, who graduated with a sports psychology degree in December, is aware enough to know his short-term future could be at guard. Pete Kendall will be 35 in September, and the 32-year-old Randy Thomas missed almost all of last season with a torn triceps.

The Redskins’ first four picks were all offensive players, including wide receivers Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly and tight end Fred Davis. After a trade with Tennessee, the Redskins finally chose a defensive player, Arizona State cornerback J.T. Tryon, in the fourth round. Cerrato likes the 5-foot-9, 190-pound Tryon’s physical, man-to-man coverage.

Tryon, who runs 40 yards in 4.39 seconds, could challenge incumbent Leigh Torrence and practice squad veterans John Eubanks and Byron Westbrook for a reserve corner spot while starter Carlos Rogers recovers from reconstructive knee surgery.

But Tryon has his sights set higher than just making the team. Asked whether he knew anything about the Redskins’ cornerback corps, which includes longtime NFL starters Shawn Springs and Fred Smoot along with Rogers, Tryon said, “It really don’t matter. It’s my spot to take.”

Tryon only returned 12 kickoffs in his two years at Arizona State, but he’s no less confident about that aspect of his game, saying “Anytime I catch the ball, at least I’m going to get you to the 50.”

The Redskins traded out of the fifth round, picking up two sixth-rounders from St. Louis. They used one to take Georgia Tech punter Durant Brooks, a threat to take Derrick Frost’s job, and the other to select Nicholls State safety Kareem Moore, who will compete for a backup job with seventh-round safety Chris Horton of UCLA.

“He’s got a very powerful leg,” Cerrato said of Brooks, who set an NCAA record for the most 50-yard punts the past two years and is a protege of legendary punter Ray Guy.

Given that Frost is coming off a down year and was given a one-year, minimum contract last month, the job could be Brooks’ to lose.

The Redskins next gambled that Colt Brennan’s 31 NCAA records weren’t just a product of Hawaii’s run-and-shoot offense, taking him with their own sixth-rounder.

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