Q&A With: Joe Mendes

The coach no longer runs the show and the owner no longer makes all the decisions. Instead, the Redskins have turned into a GM by committee situation. But Joe Mendes, the vice president of football operations probably has the greatest say, especially when it comes to this weekend's draft.

Q: Will you trade up or down?

A: It's a little early for that. It's interesting, there are a lot of teams kicking tires as far as going in both directions. Frankly, we would be one of those teams. We would have to look in both directions. Steve and Mr. Snyder and I have talked a great deal about the best way to maximize the pick. Is it best to move up and get one quality player or to move down and still get a quality player and acquire multiple picks or a pick in the process.

Q: Would you consider moving up for a position other than quarterback?

A: We have more than one need. As the process unfolds, there are several players in this draft that could warrant a strong discussion to move up and try to obtain.

Q: Would you prefer to trade the pick?

A: I can't say that right now. Who knows what will be there at 18. The 18th pick may be a wonderful Christmas present for us.

Q: Do you feel you have to pick up a starter at 18?

A: We'd better pick up a starter at 18.

Q: Would he have to start this year?

A: You can't ever put that pressure on a draft choice or on the coaching staff. You have needs on your team, but to say a guy will come in right away and be an immediate starter is unfair to say.

Q: At this point, do you have a handle on where Joey Harrington will go?

A: The best answer I can give you is when you do all your internet work and make all your phone calls and you keep coming up with three, four or five different scenarios. We're hearing the same things you folks are hearing. The one difference is, it's affecting our workdays less than yours. Our work days have to be internal, not external.

Q: Do you do mock first rounds and try to figure out different scenarios?

A: You go through the process of phone calls. And, I hate to say this, but the internet and those types of devices. We smile about this because you hear all these rumors that such and such will take a particular player at a pick. We smile because we don't know what we're going to do so how do these other clubs, a week or two weeks or six weeks ago? It makes for nice writing, but it's not necessarily the facts.

Q: Are there positions you wouldn't look to fill in the first round?

A: We haven't addressed that. You have stronger desires at some spots than others. There used to be a standard line that you draft a player and say you're set there for 10 years. You say that now and they'll laugh at you.

Q: Are you as high on the defensive tackles as a lot of people around the league are?

A: There's early depth at that position.

Q: Some say DT is four deep, some say five. Where do you fall on that?

A: It's four or five deep.

Q: Is a guard worth the 18th pick.

A: [Oakland's Steve] Wisniewski was worth that type of selection. Historically you'd like to maximize your pick at another selection. But it will be determined by what else is there. You don't lower the value because you say, 'We're not going to take a guard.' You have to keep all of your avenues open. The minute you close the door, you may be closing an opportunity.

Q: Are there positions that have a premium in the draft?

A: If you go back and look at the mistakes made in the draft, there have been a lot of mistakes made with defensive linemen because there is a great need for defensive linemen. It's hard to find big people.

Q: Some argue that the first round is the easy round and the challenge is to find the later picks. Have you spotted players who you say, 'I hope he's around in the fourth round'?

A: Let me tell you a quick story. When I was in New England, we drafted Ben Coates in the fourth round. We didn't sit around for four rounds saying, 'We know where we can find a Pro Bowl tight end.' That's just where we felt it was appropriate for him. There was nothing mystical about it. It just happened. People want to take so much credit for these late rounds. If they were so right, they should have taken them earlier. It's nice to get them, but you shouldn't stick your chest out.

Q: Most of your major moves in free agency were defensive oriented. Do you feel a need to go offensive in the draft?

A: We signed Rod Jones and Larry Moore. The draft is not unlike free agency in maximizing the value and being disciplined in the decisions. This is a thing that's ongoing. You don't think as you're in free agency, 'We're going to get defensive guys.' Or, 'Now we're going to draft offense.' The minute you start to pinpoint, you risk the chance of minimizing your value.

John Keim covers the Redskins for The Journal Newspapers.

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