Skins pick DB, TE in 5th

After surprising just about everyone with their first four picks, taking players for the future, the Redskins finally turned to filling a need in the fifth round. That's when they selected defensive back Andre Lott of Tennessee followed one pick later by tight end Robert Royal of Louisiana State.

Both played against new coach Steve Spurrier in the Southeastern Conference. But Spurrier admitted he didn't focus much on the opposition in college and didn't remember much about them.

Lott played corner and safety at Tennessee, but Washington coach Steve Spurrier said Lott would play safety in the NFL. The 5-foot-10, 194-pound Lott likely will help on special teams and, perhaps, in dime or nickel coverages. It's doubtful he could unseat either starting safety, David Terrell and Sam Shade.

''He has versatility,'' Redskins defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis said of Lott. ''He plays bigger than he is and he's been a good tackler.''

Lott was a three-year starter, earning All-Southeastern Conference honors as a senior, though he didn't intercept a pass. In 2000, Lott finished with 55 tackles, an interception and seven pass deflections, earning second-team All-SEC honors.

The knock on Lott is that he's not fast enough to be a corner and might be too small to be a quality safety. Also, hamstring problems have plagued him throughout his college career.

Meanwhile, Royal finished his career with 59 receptions for 707 yards and seven touchdowns. The 6-foot-4, 253-pound Royal started 24 games and was an All-SEC pick as a senior by the league's coaches.

''He can run and block,'' Redskins tight ends coach Lawson Holland. ''He has tremendous hands. I like his spunk and attitude. That's the one thing that caught my attention at the combine, above his athletic ability. There were about 14 or 15 tight ends there and this was the one guy they all followed. Everyone congratulated him when he did a great job in the drills. They were all pulling for him.''

Royal also played basketball for LSU for five games this past season before quitting.

John Keim covers the Redskins for The Journal Newspapers.

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