Scouting the guards: Who the Redskins should pick

Over the next several days, we'll evaluate the Redskins' biggest area of needs, making a case why Washington would draft a player at that position. And who the Redskins should select. Today we'll evaluate the interior of the offensive line.

Imagine this: a young trio of top lineman to build a running game around for the next 10 years. Washington certainly can envision that.

Which is one large reason the Redskins could opt for a guard with the 18th overall pick. If Jon Jansen is re-signed after next season, Washington would have two of the better young tackles in the game. Then, if the Redskins opt for a guard next week, they could have one of the top interior linemen in the game as well. As fans in Washington know, that's how championships are won.

Donnie Warren said it best this week in a discussion with the Quarterbacks came and went. So did running backs. But most of the line remained the same; the one constancy during the Redskins dominant decade under Joe Gibbs.

A year ago, many wanted Washington to draft Michigan guard Steve Hutchison. I didn't. The Redskins sorely lacked a playmaker on offense and had done little to address that in free agency. That's why I liked them picking a receiver.

They've signed enough players comparable to the receivers they'd pick at 18. But they don't have a young guard who would be considered at that level. Washington likes Ross Tucker and Alex Sulfsted. But the new regime hasn't seen them play. They can't bank on either player panning out, which is another reason they might draft a guard.

And David Loverne offers experience and, perhaps, potential down the road. But, if that's the case, the New York Jets wouldn't have pegged guard as a big need in the offseason.

If they take a guard, who should it be? Here's our pick: Auburn's Kendall Simmons. Why? Nebraska's Toniu Fonoti will only turn 21 in November and is described as ''immature.'' Though he dominated at times, he also weighs about 350 pounds and, scouts say, needs work on his technique.

That's one reason to pick Simmons. The other? He's pretty darn good--and he's probably more ready to step in and be a top player. He's not quite quick enough or big enough to play tackle in the NFL, as he did in college, but he has all the tools to dominate at guard. Plus, scouts say, he's a hard worker and tenacious. Which is exactly what Jansen and Samuels are. Which is why Simmons would make a good fit.

John Keim has covered the Redskins for The Journal Newspapers and is a correspondent for Pro Football Weekly.

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