Chris Steuber Answers Insiders' Questions

Our Insiders had draft questions for one of's experts. And here, they get answered by's own Chris Steuber.

twinskinz: How far do you see DE Philip Merling falling due to his hernia injury?

Chris Steuber: I don't think the hernia injury will affect his draft status at all. The recovery period for a hernia isn't too long, and he should be ready to go for training camp, if not sooner. I think a team like the Minnesota Vikings will have a lot of interest in Merling. He's a very good all-around defender who defends the run well, and he has improved his pass rushing. He was a solid player at Clemson and is still developing. He has a chance to be a very good defender at the next level.

twinskinz:  If WR Limus Sweed had stayed healthy during his senior season would he be a high first rounder, or is there another reason many have said he is not first round quality?

Chris Steuber: The biggest concern at this point for Limas Sweed is the health of his wrist. He was out most of the season with torn ligaments in his left wrist and reaggravated it during the Senior Bowl. He showed scouts at his Pro Day that the wrist has gotten better, but you still have to have some concern when you're talking about an injury to a receiver that may affect the way he catches the ball. If Sweed was healthy this past season, I'm sure he would have had a great year for Texas and would probably have been selected anywhere between No. 10 - 15, instead of being a late first rounder.

twinskins: Which cover 2 type of safety should the Redskins be looking for?

Chris Steuber: I think Miami's Kenny Phillips can excel in a Cover 2 scheme. He's the kind of player who has good ball skills and anticipation and could thrive in a zone defense. Arizona State's Josh Barrett is another possibility. He has great instincts and a nose for the ball. He has great ball skills and speed and could be a dominant secondary defender at the next level.

KCSkin:  Which is more important for the Redskins at this point: drafting the best available talent at ANY position, or drafting for a specific need in the roster?

Chris Steuber: I think the Redskins have to look at certain positions in the draft to upgrade. It's obvious they need help at wide receiver, safety and along the defensive line. I think they will address those three positions in the first three rounds.

Vatoothdoc:  In your opinion, what positions are easiest to find hidden gems in the later rounds?

Chris Steuber: In the later rounds, you can always find quality offensive and defensive linemen; you just have to trust your scouts. You can also get lucky and draft a QB that fits a certain system and becomes a starter.

KCSkin:  Who will be on the management "Draft Team" to make the final decision on whom is picked?

Chris Steuber: That's a good question. I'm sure everyone in management will have a say on whom the Redskins select, especially with a new head coach at the helm.

22JoeWash:  Is it my imagination or is the FO playing information control about who they're interested in?  I hear other teams have targeted so and so but the experts seem to be all over the board on the skins. Do you think that's because we have so many needs and so many picks?

Chris Steuber: I don't know about other analysts projections, but I've heard the names Devin Thomas, Limas Sweed, Kenny Phillips, Phillip Merling, Calais Campbell, etc... Just because you see the same name going to the same team in mock drafts doesn't mean that's the way it will work out on draft day. It's fun to look at mock drafts, and it's fun for me to create them, but we're all evaluating off of what we see and feel, but obviously it's up to the team to make the selection.

Newshog: What have you heard about who/what the Redskins are interested in drafting?

Chris Steuber: I know the Redskins would like to add a big wide receiver; players like Devin Thomas, Limas Sweed and Malcolm Kelly are ideal. But, I could also see the Redskins drafting another former Miami Hurricane safety (Kenny Phillips) to replace the late great Sean Taylor.

Newshog: What/who in your opinion should they draft?

Chris Steuber: If Devin Thomas or Limas Sweed are on the board for Washington in the first round, they should select one of them.

Newshog: How would you run the draft if you were heading up the Redskins' efforts?

Chris Steuber: I'd identify the best players for the team. The Redskins have needs on offense and defense, and when it became time to make a selection, I'd use my judgment as best as possible and draft the best player available as he's listed on my board, regardless of his position.

Newshog: Is a team wrong to trade draft picks for players?  Is a team wrong to not trade draft picks for players?  When is the right time?

Chris Steuber: Personally, I think teams overrate the value of their draft picks. A first round pick has a lot of value, and in some cases so does a second round pick, but in rounds 3 - 7 you have no idea how a prospect will turn out. If you have an opportunity to trade for a proven veteran who can lift a mediocre team into the playoffs and give up just a third or fourth round pick for that player; what's the big deal?

Newshog: Where do you focus when you think "value in the draft"?

Chris Steuber: Are you talking about a certain position, round...? If you're talking about a certain position in a particular round, I always believe you can get quality offensive and defensive linemen in the later rounds.

emonroe726: We have heard about Long, Long, McFadden and Dorsey, but in your opinion, who is the player in the draft who has the greatest chance of being an All-Pro in the NFL?

Chris Steuber: I'm probably going to surprise some people with this answer, but I'm going to say Aqib Talib. I think he's an outstanding player with great playmaking ability. He will likely end up in a situation where he will compete for playing time right away and will get an opportunity to display his skills.

jacksonpowell:  Reading that the Redskins may be drafting a quarterback to develop, what are your thoughts about Josh Johnson, Kevin O'Connell and Paul Smith? I read about Kyle Wright in your All-Sleeper team, but wondered about these three as prospects for developing into productive players for the Redskins down the road as well.

Chris Steuber: Josh Johnson is very intriguing and he's definitely a developmental prospect. He has great athleticism, a strong arm and nice touch. He just needs more coaching and seasoning. He has a chance to be a solid starting QB. Kevin O'Connell is another interesting QB and his draft stock is rising right now. He has all the tools to be a starting QB, but again, he's another prospect who needs more coaching. Paul Smith is flying under the radar in my mind. He's extremely intelligent and understands the game. He's a possibility for a team looking for a QB in the later rounds, and he's probably three years away from being a starter. Of the three, if the Redskins are looking to develop a QB behind Jason Campbell, I'd select Johnson because of his upside.

jacksonpowell:  When do you think these quarterbacks will be selected, if at all, in this year's draft?

Chris Steuber: Johnson will be a third - fourth rounder, O'Connell a fourth - fifth rounder and Smith will go in the sixth or seventh round.

jacksonpowell:  Do you think Quentin Groves with all his speed would be a good fit for the Redskins?

Chris Steuber: I think Groves could play in any defense, but he will probably be more effective in a 3-4. He has the athletic ability to drop back to OLB and be a edge rusher who can use his speed to get in the backfield. If he plays DE at the next level, he'll most likely be a situational pass rusher because of his size. He plays with a high motor and tends to wear down as the game progresses. He could be a good fit in Washington, but as a situational DE.

jacksonpowell:  Would Groves be a value pick at #21?

Chris Steuber: That would be a bit of a reach at No. 21, but Groves will be off the board when the Redskins make their second round selection. I think Groves will receive some attention late in the first round, but I don't think Washington will be one of those teams.

A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999.

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