Q&A With: Joel Buchsbaum

For years Joel Buchsbaum has studied college football players, trying to predict what they'll do once they enter the NFL. Few are more respected than Buchsbaum, whose draft guides become bibles for some general managers. So what does Buchsbaum think of the Redskins' front office? Or who does he think is ready to help right now?

Q: In your draft book, you had the Redskins selecting defensive end Kalimba Edwards. Now that we're closer to the draft, do you have a strong feeling who they might take?

A: When you're picking 18th, it's almost impossible to guess. They'd like to address quarterback, wide receiver, offensive line, safety. There's a lot of areas. It all depends how the players come off the board. But you draft for value and then for position, in that order.

Q: There's talk they might draft a guard. Who is best suited to help immediately?

A: All three (Nebraska's Toniu Fonoti, Auburn's Kendall Simmons and Colorado's Andre Gurode) could come right in and be good players for them. The kid from Nebraska is the best run blocker and a great talent. Gurode is very powerful as well. Simmons is probably the best pass blocker.

Q: Which receiver, who is likely to be available in the middle of the first round, is likely to help immediately?

A: None are ready. But they can learn it. Gaffney and Caldwell played in Spurrier's system. Gaffney is the more fluid receiver and probably adjusts to the ball better. Caldwell is the more explosive player.

Q: Where do you think Joey Harrington will go?

A: I think he'll go in the top 10. The Redskins could be interested in him or Patrick Ramsey of Tulane.

Q: They would take Ramsey in the first round?

A: It's possible.

Q: Why has he risen so much?

A: Because of how impressive he was at the Senior Bowl. He had the character, the work ethic, the competitiveness, the intangibles, the arm strength.

Q: Has he surprised you?

A: He's better than I thought. But I recommended him for the Senior Bowl so I thought he was pretty damn good.

Q: How big a dropoff is there after the top four defensive tackles (Tennessee's Albert Haynesworth, Wisconsin's Wendell Bryant, North Carolina's Ryan Sims and Tennessee's John Henderson)?

A: You can include Anthony Weaver of Notre Dame so it's really five. Then it's a pretty big dropoff.

Q: Where is the draft strongest?

A: Tight end.

Q: Where is it weakest?

A: Inside linebacker.

Q: Who are three rising players?

A: Jeremy Shockey, the Miami tight end; Levi Jones, the Arizona State offensive tackle and Charles Grant, the Georgia defensive end.

Q: Whose stock is falling?

A: It's hard to say, some guys stumbled in their workouts but have other ones scheduled. Derek Ross, the Ohio State corner, has fallen because of his speed. He's not fast enough.

Q: What's the perception of the Redskins' front office?

A: They're in transition. Joe Mendes is very highly regarded around the league and Ron Nay is considered one of the best scouts in the league. Cerrato has a mixed reputation. Under John Schneider last year they hired a lot of young scouts who have a great deal to learn and that really hurt the team perception-wise. They had absolutely no organized pro personnel department since Chuck Banker was running it. There's no system in place. So they're behind most teams a great deal. They're really hurt by the lack of experienced scouts this year and last year. Last year there was strong sentiment to taking linebacker Kendrell Bell in the first round instead of Gardner. Schottenheimer overruled that and went with need. Smoot was an excellent second-round pick.

Q: What do you think of Gardner and how does he fit Spurrier's system?

A: He showed me more speed and upfield explosiveness than I thought he had. But he didn't catch the ball nearly as well as he caught it in college. He can be a very good receiver in that system because he'll go over the middle on crossing patterns. He has nice hands and he's a big target.

Q: What do you think of QB Sage Rosenfels?

A: He does some good things and he does some bad things. He's not special. He has good size and a guy like that might develop with the right coach.

. . .To order a copy of Buchsbaum's NFL draft guide, call 1-800-366-8225. . . . Special thanks to Yomar on the message board for providing some excellent questions, including the one about the Redskins' front office. John Keim covers the Redskins for The Journal Newspapers and is a correspondent for Pro Football Weekly.

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