- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 30, 2011

ASHBURN, Va. | On the final day of the 2011 NFL Draft, the Redskins continued their massive roster overhaul by utilizing the draft in a way the organization has not in years past. With free agency effectively on hold due to the lockout, the Redskins picked up nine players in the last four rounds of the draft to fill a roster with a multitude of needs.

The one position the Redskins did not address was quarterback, but during his post-draft news conference, coach Mike Shanahan praised the team’s current back up John Beck, who the Redskins traded for last season. Beck was the fourth quarterback taken during the 2007 draft, but Shanahan said he had Beck rated much higher, fueling speculation that Beck could be the team’s next starting quarterback.

“He was the top rated quarterback on my board [in 2007],” Shanahan said of Beck, who was chosen behind JaMarcus Russell, Brady Quinn and Kevin Kolb.

“I have a lot of confidence in him,” Shanahan said of Beck.

In all, the Redskins made 12 selections in this draft.

“We addressed a lot of needs. We got depth at a lot of positions. You can’t address every need in the draft, but every team needs depth and we feel like we stuck to our game plan,” Shanahan said.

The team started the third and final day of the draft with three straight selections from the University of Nebraska, taking running back Roy Helu Jr. in the fourth round, cornerback/safety DeJon Gomes in the fifth round, and wide receiver Niles Paul in the fifth round.

Helu’s selection follows Shanahan’s pattern of drafting running backs in later rounds, which Helu views as a good sign.

“From what I’ve heard, it’s legendary, them picking up a running back in the middle of the draft, from what I’ve heard with Terrell Davis and so on,” Helu said.

“The history is proof for itself of all the running backs and offensive lineman that worked under him and the success that they’ve had.”

Gomes called it “amazing and surreal” to be drafted, and expects to be used in similar fashion as he was at Nebraska, in dime and nickel coverage.

“I’ll be playing a little free safety also, just to show my versatility,” Gomes said.

Gomes finished his college career with 99 tackles, 51 solo tackles, and had four games with double figure totals in tackles made.

“I think my strengths are being able to cover in the flats. This league is moving towards more of a passing league and they need safeties that can cover. I think I got a lot of that experience at Nebraska and my corner background.”

Paul said he’s happy to be coming to the Redskins with his [Nebraska] teammates Helu and Gomes.

“I’m a physical receiver and I’m not afraid to do the do the dirty work. I overcame a lot of adversity at Nebraska, but when I’m backed into a corner, I’ll come out fighting,” Paul said.

Paul is considered more of a threat as a kick returner than a receiver, and was ranked as the fifth best Big 12 player at his position with 1,887 career yards, second in Nebraska history.

With their two sixth-round picks, the Redskins chose running back Evan Royster from Penn State, and wide receiver Aldrick Robinson from SMU.

Royster said he had more contact with the Redskins any other team, and was hoping to be chosen by Washington.

“The system here fits me well. Coach Shanahan said I remind him of Terrell Davis,” Royster said. Royster completed his career at Penn State as the school’s all-time rushing leader.

Robinson led SMU with 1,301 yards in his senior season and was second in school history with 3,314 receiving yards.

“I bring versatility. I’m a speed guy; I’m quick,” Robinson said.

“I have good hands; I have a good all-around game. I’ll be able to contribute on special teams also. I’ll be able to do punt returns, kick returns, anything.”

The team finished off the day with four picks in the seventh round, selecting cornerback Brandyn Thompson from Boise State, outside linebacker Maurice Hurt from Florida, defensive end Markus White from Florida State, and nose tackle Chris Neild from West Virginia.

Thompson calls himself a ball hawk and playmaker.

“As a corner, the biggest thing you can do to help your team is to create turnovers and get your hands on the ball and help your team win the game,” Thompson said.

Hurt said he was just glad the wait to be drafted was finally over.

“It feels amazing. I’m just blessed to have this opportunity. I’m glad to be part of the Washington Redskins organization,” Hurt said.

White, who overcame a medical condition resulting in seizures to continue his football career, calls the opportunity to play football a “God-given blessing,” will be making a transition to linebacker with the Redskins.

“I feel like my athleticism will show a lot more at linebacker than it will at defensive end. I can show my skills better at that position, White said.

Neild, listed as a run-stopping defensive tackle, would play nose tackle in a Shanahan offense.

“It’s not every draft you can add 12 quality players,” Shanahan said.

“I was really pleased with what we did.”

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