Redskins defend draft

The Redskins entered the weekend seeking a starting guard and defensive tackle. They ended the weekend looking for the same things. Yet they also insisted they had a strong draft, as just about every other team in the NFL tried to sell their fans.

Washington drafted 10 players, its most ever in a seven-round draft. But the Redskins, after finding two starters in each of the last three years, might not have found any. At least no one who will make an immediate impact this season.

Of course, that depends on how quickly first-round pick, quarterback Patrick Ramsey, progresses. But the majority of the picks might take at least a year--or much more--before blossoming.

Washington bypassed guards with the last pick in the first round and in the second, where it could have found one. The same goes for defensive tackle. But the Redskins say they took the best player rated on their board, opting for talent over need.

''It's all on how you look at it,'' Redskins vice president of football operations Joe Mendes said. ''There can be short-term pleasure but long-term pain or you can make an investment in the future by not just reacting to the second.

''If you jump around for a need, that's when you can become disappointed. If you keep an open mind and let good players come to you, things will work out for the best.''

Mendes acknowledged, in an ''ideal world'', he would like to have addressed the guard situation. But when Ramsey was still available, after Washington traded down twice, the Redskins agreed he was the guy to pick. Washington had tried to trade up for, among others, quarterback Joey Harrington, receiver Donte Stallworth and defensive tackle Wendell Bryant.

Ramsey could be the Redskins quarterback of the future, making this a potentially excellent pick. ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski called it a ''perfect fit.'' After that, they selected running back Ladell Betts in the second round and, in the third, they chose Oregon corner Rashad Bauman and Utah receiver Clifford Russell.

Sunday, Washington made six more selections: Tennessee defensive back Andre Lott (fifth round), LSU tight end Robert Royal (fifth round), Tennessee tackle/guard Reggie Cole (sixth round), UCLA long snapper Jeff Grau (seventh round), Hampton defensive end Greg Scott (seventh round) and Kansas State fullback Rock Cartwright (seventh round).

The latter might have caused the most excitement in the final hours as running backs coach Hue Jackson strolled the hallways at Redskin Park with a big grin. Redskins coach Steve Spurrier was excited, too, about Cartwright, who is only 5-foot-7 but runs a 4.47 40-yard dash.

''He's a tough little blocker,'' Spurrier said. ''He'll run one to three times a game and he knows his role. He has a good chance to make the team.''

Grau is projected as a long snapper, probably replacing Ethan Albright. Grau only long snapped in college. Scott is a project at defensive end, but the Redskins like his potential.

''He's a very good athlete,'' Mendes said. ''In the seventh round you look for special qualities. He has a big frame and has a really quick first step and closing burst. He has a chance to be good.''

The question is, when? Which can be asked of all Washington's picks.

''In college, everyone would ask, 'Who's going to be an impact player?' '' Spurrier said. ''And we'd say, 'If we've got to depend on a bunch of freshman to start, then we'll have a lousy team.' We've got a few spots to fill but maybe not quite as many as some others. What's exciting now is that our team is starting to take shape. We're not going to train a quarterback all summer and then cut him after the third game. We know who our guys will be.''

. . . The Redskins will sign 12-15 undrafted free agents tonight and Monday.

John Keim covers the Redskins for The Journal Newspapers.

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