Draft Questions

With possibly only three picks in the draft, how many questions could there possibly be? But there's always something worth asking. And we have the answers, based on private conversations with coaches and front office types.

1. What position will the Redskins target in the second round?

The better question is, what position won't they go after: quarterback, running back and fullback or offensive tackle. Every other position is a possibility, including tight end (though enough people in the organization like Zeron Flemister to bypass this spot, barring a top player such as Iowa's Dallas Clark or Tennessee's Jason Witten falling to No. 44).

It's hard to say which position takes priority because this is truly a best-player-available spot. They'd love to find an outside linebacker to eventually replace Jessie Armstead. But this is a bad draft for such players. There's a major dropoff after Boss Bailey. And many of these players are undersized--some in the organization feel they picked too many undersized players a year ago, like Rock Cartwright and Rashad Bauman.

That said, they do like Ohio State's Cie Grant because of his flexibility. He can cover, blitz and would help on special teams. He reminds some of ex-Cowboy Bill Bates. But at No. 44? That would be a reach.

They also like Michigan's Victor Hobson, but he's under 6-foot-1 and that's a concern.

Defensive tackle would be a likely spot, especially if they don't sign Michael Myers. There, the Redskins have interest in Clemson's Nick Eason and Alabama's Kenny King, who can play end and tackle. If they could pick just one, it would be Kentucky's Dewayne Robertson. Alas, he'll go in the top 5. But they love the fire in his belly (something they wish Dan Wilkinson had more of).

There's talk about drafting a right defensive end, but, barring someone falling in their laps, don't count on it. They have Bruce Smith, Regan Upshaw and Ladairis Jackson there now (though some in the organization wonder how well Jackson will bounce back from his season-ending injury).

''I don't know of many who could, or would, change our minds,'' one Redskins source said.

If they took an offensive lineman, they'd want someone who could play guard and center. The weak link on the line is center Larry Moore, a hard-working guy who gets the most out of his talent. But he's the most replaceable. And Dave Fiore's durability is a question mark, too.

Ohio State's Michael Doss would look good at 44 and reports say he's dropping into the second round. But most reports said after the college season that's where he'd go. He'd look good in Washington because of his range. In the day and age of four-receiver sets, the Redskins want more speed at safety. They also love his tackling ability. USC's Troy Polamalu will be gone by 44.

They're not sure about Arkansas' Ken Hamlin, though he is aggressive and has good range. He's also had off-the-field problems. They don't like North Carolina State's Terrence Holt, saying he doesn't tackle well.

Stanford's Colin Branch is intriguing because he's a good athlete, has 4.4 speed, is aggressive and tackles well. But he's viewed as a fifth- or sixth-round pick.

Others they like later in the draft: Texas A&M's Terrence Kiel; Florida's Todd Johnson (but not this high, either and probably not in the third).

At receiver, it's hard to say. Steve Spurrier told one prospective draft pick that they would target other needs. But if they do look here, Penn State's Bryant Johnson has the necessary speed and he can return punts (if Chad Morton needs a break).

2. Will they trade Fred Smoot?

As we said two days ago in the Whisper Room, it's doubtful. And ignore anything you read about Rashad Bauman being a replacement down the line. I haven't talked to ANYONE at Redskins Park who thinks he's anything other than a nickelback. And always will be. Simply put, he's way too short (shorter than his 5-foot-8 listing).

By trading Smoot, they'd only create another hole. Other teams would not give the Redskins maximum value if they tried to peddle him two years after drafting him. They'd wonder: what's wrong with him?

Is it worth trading Smoot to pick up an extra second-rounder? Not without a true replacement it isn't. That said, we're concerned with where these rumors are coming from, leading us to believe there's some merit.

3. Will they trade up?

It's unlikely. If they did, it couldn't be too high because of the money. They'd have a hard time paying too much in a bonus and it would hurt their cap. They already have their first-round pick in Laveranues Coles. But owner Dan Snyder likes to be active so we'll never rule anything out.

4. Will they pick a punter in the 7th round?

Probably not. We know Redskins special teams coach Mike Stock likes Ohio State's Andy Groom and Maryland's Brooks Barnard.

But we also know they wonder whether these players can get their punts off in time--in their April 4 workouts, both were too slow in this area. And if they can hold. Both are major questions, which is why Stock would prefer Bryan Barker.

Also, if the Redskins end up with only three choices, why waste one on a punter. One front office member said he doubts they will. They'd rather bring in a few as free agents.


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