Inside Slant--Draft Strategy
That was back in 1989 when the Redskins had one pick in the first 109 (they took Auburn defensive tackle Tracy Rocker at No. 66 in the third round). This time around, the Redskins have the 53rd pick, late in the second round, and won't pick again until late in the fifth round on Sunday.
So unlike the two previous drafts since the return of coach Joe Gibbs in 2004 when the Redskins chose between Miami safety Sean Taylor and Miami tight end Kellen Winslow, Jr. at No. 5 overall and last year when they landed their preferred cornerback, Carlos Rogers, at No. 9, the Redskins will probably just have to take the best linebacker available in hopes of replacing the departed LaVar Arrington.
The re-signing of veteran linebacker Warrick Holdman on April 18 didn't change that thinking.
"We still want to look at picking a linebacker there," Redskins linebackers coach Dale Lindsey said. "There should be a couple of good ones available when we pick."
Holdman, on the verge of stardom before hurting a knee in 2002 with Chicago, had little impact in his Washington debut in 2005 with only 38 tackles and no interceptions, sacks or forced fumbles despite starting seven games before yielding the weak side job to the since-released LaVar Arrington.
"Warrick didn't play as well as he could have last year," said Lindsey, who coached Holdman with the Bears from 1999-2001. "He knows that. It was his first year in the system and he played tentatively early, like he didn't want to make mistakes. He looked more like his old self late in the year, but he needs to play better."
Not only is Holdman, barring a renaissance, a stopgap starter at 30, but backup Chris Clemons has only been a third-down pass rusher and is coming off knee surgery.
"Chris has tremendous speed and quickness, but he has to show us that he can really be an all-around linebacker," Lindsey said.
The good news is that the Redskins could go inside or outside with the pick since middle backer Lemar Marshall is capable of playing the weak side. That's where Marshall, who is recuperating from shoulder surgery, started in place of the injured Arrington for most of 2004.
Marshall, who made the Redskins in 2002 after not being drafted and then being cut by Tampa Bay and Denver, is ever the good soldier. After working hard to master the middle last year, he would prefer to stay put but is willing to move back outside if need be.
However, Washington will likely have to choose from such linebackers as Ohio State's Bobby Carpenter and UTEP's Thomas Howard (whose father, also named Thomas, played for Kansas City and Arizona) and such inside linebackers as Georgia Tech's Gerris Wilkinson and Alabama's Freddie Roach.
Once the Redskins get going on day two of the draft at No. 153, they have six of 98 picks. They acquired extra sixth-rounders in trades in which they gave up receiver Rod Gardner, quarterback Patrick Ramsey and an extra seventh-rounder, which they were awarded as compensation for losing top free agents Fred Smoot and Antonio Pierce after the 2004 season.
Depth is a serious concern at offensive tackle and safety.
Pierson Prioleau, who would become a starter if Sean Taylor winds up doing jail time, is the only reserve safety with NFL experience.
And although the Redskins haven't drafted a kicker or punter in Dan Snyder's six drafts as their owner, kicker John Hall's inability to stay healthy the past two years and punter Derrick Frost's mediocre Redskins debut in 2005 would seem to dictate choosing players at one or both positions.
Quotes and Notes
--Defensive end Renaldo Wynn's healing forearm -- he broke it in a Jan. 7 playoff game at Tampa Bay -- is preventing him from doing any weight room work on his upper body, which he typically spun as a positive "because it allows me to work more on my legs and that's where your power comes from. My main goal is to be 100% for training camp (which opens July 31)."
Redskins director of sports medicine Bubba Tyer said that Wynn's forearm is healing well and that he could be on the field for minicamp in June.
--Guard Randy Thomas, who fractured a fibula against Dallas on Dec. 18, is on target to be on the field for veteran minicamp on June 18.
--Receiver James Thrash, who missed the Jan. 14 playoff game at Seattle because of a broken thumb, still has a stiff joint in the thumb but is fully participating in offseason workouts.
--Center Casey Rabach, who suffered a deep gash in an ATV accident in March, is due to get off crutches next week.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "As you get older, you see the big picture more. It wasn't about the money or the playing time with Jerome (Bettis). It's not about that for me either. It's about winning the ring." -- Redskins defensive end Renaldo Wynn, citing his former Notre Dame teammate, Jerome Bettis as a role model. Bettis took a pay cut and a reduced role to stay in Pittsburgh for one last season and wound up helping the Steelers win the Super Bowl.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: TE Brian Kozlowski.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers): DE Melvin Williams
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.PLAYERS LOST: LB LaVar Arrington; S Matt Bowen; OG Ray Brown; S Ryan Clark; CB Walt Harris; DT Brandon Noble; QB Patrick Ramsey; C Cory Raymer; TE Robert Royal; S Omar Stoutmire; P Tom Tupa.