Redskins like Cooley's smarts

In the weeks before the draft, the Redskins brought in the requisite high-profile players, anxious to learn more about them. They also brought in one lower-round guy who had caught their eye: Chris Cooley.

They liked him even more after their visit. And that's why they felt they had to have him in the third round, causing them to trade a second-round pick next year to New Orleans for a chance to draft Cooley, a tight end out of Utah State.

''He made big plays against real tough teams,'' Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said. ''He made a tremendous catch against Nebraska. He's supersmart and we think he fits in with us. He played in the backfield for them, he carried the ball, he played H-back and tight end. He did a lot of stuff in college and that makes us think he'll fit in with us.''

Gibbs said he didn't remind him of any of his H-backs from the past, though he said he'd fit in well with them. Draft guru Mel Kiper Jr., said he was like ex-Redskin H-back Clint Didier. But Gibbs said, ''Didier was more of a speed guy, an outside receiver. . . But Chris fits into that group.''

But Gibbs liked that Cooley scored a 32 on the Wonderlic test. Aside from quarterback, there's not a position Gibbs values brains at more than at H-back. In this offense, the H-back splits out wide, goes in motion, lines up at fullback as well as on the line of scrimmage.

''If you get the right person it gives you a lot of flexibility,'' Gibbs said. ''Chris may be too smart to be here.''

The Redskins had him projected as higher than the 81st pick in the draft, which is why they wanted to move into the third round to get him, even at the expense of a higher pick next year. But Gibbs also said this is not why they bypassed Kellen Winslow in the first round, knowing they could get quality later in the draft in Cooley.

But he also made it known how much he liked Cooley upon first watching him on tape.

''They used him a lot like how we'll use him,'' Gibbs said. ''We got to see his stuff. He has great body adjustment and he's a good runner after the catch. We felt it would be our advantage to bring him in.''


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