Drafting a Strategy

Commentary: They defended their words, they poked holes in a story by a newspaper and they attempted to clear up apparent conflicting statements issued by the team yesterday.

They also talked about something that is much more important: the draft. And when it comes to Saturday's draft, the Redskins said they could do anything with the ninth and 25th picks in the first round. ''Absolutely,'' owner Dan Snyder said when asked if they might move up.

Coach Joe Gibbs also confirmed that the team attended a workout in Auburn on Tuesday -- one of about 20 colleges he's visited this offseason -- but would not say if they were interested in quarterback Jason Campbell, as is rumored. It's hard to target one guy with the 25th pick, especially if other teams know their intentions and also like Campbell.

For example, when they picked Patrick Ramsey, they traded down twice during the draft, concealing their intentions. Had they done so before the draft, it might have tipped off another team interested in Ramsey. The Redskins didn't deny they might take Campbell, either. But it could also be a smokescreen. ''Right now all options are open for us,'' Gibbs said. And he stressed Ramsey remained his guy.

''The good thing about Patrick is that he knows where he stands with us,'' Gibbs said. ''He's someone we're counting on to take us to the promised land. What we're trying to do is build the best team we can.''

But what the Redskins wanted from Tuesday's trade with Denver was this: flexibility. They also say the value of the trade tilts in their favor, using a chart some teams consult. It weighs the value of a draft pick, assigning a value of 1300 for the ninth pick. The ninth pick in the third round would be worth 300. And a future No. 1 has second-round value for this year on this chart.

Added up, Washington received a pick worth 750 points and gave up picks worth 710 points. That aside, they now have room to maneuver. The Redskins have contacted every team in front of them in the top 10 and know what it would take to move up.

''Not many teams want to trade up and pay what you have to pay,'' Redskins vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato said. ''It's expensive.''

They'll also consider trading back.

They also reiterated, once again, that there was no way they were going to trade a No. 1 pick for corner Philip Buchanon, late of the Raiders. Gibbs also said they're still shopping receiver Rod Gardner, though that might not be completed until after the draft.

That means Washington will enter Saturday without a second or third-round selection. The Redskins would like to have those picks, but they're happy, for now, with what they have.

It helps that the positions Washington is targeting have first-round depth. Both corner and receiver have more than a few quality players capable of being selected in the first round. As many as six corners could be drafted in the first round. ''There's not one guy you can target at 25,'' Cerrato said. ''The reason why we traded for the pick is because there are a lot of guys in areas of need who will be there.''

If they draft a corner -- Miami's Antrel Rolle, West Virginia's Pac-Man Jones and Auburn's Carlos Rogers are possibilities -- they know what they want. ''If he can't tackle he's not for us,'' Cerrato said. ''They have to be smart and tough.''

The Redskisn tried to clear up Tuesday's odd events. The team put out a press release from Cerrato that day, denying any interest in trading the No. 9 pick. Later in the day Gibbs issued a statement -- he was contacted while in Auburn -- saying they would consider doing anything.

It was difficult at times to tell if the Redskins beef was with the media or their own public relations staff. Cerrato's release, they said today, should have made clear he was talking about Buchanon only. That wasn't clear. And Gibbs said any reports suggesting he and Cerrato aren't on the same page would be wrong.

''I've never had a better [working] relationship,'' Gibbs said.

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