The Washington Redskins remained well positioned to move into the top of today's NFL draft as team officials remained huddled at Redskins Park last night, assessing their options.
The Redskins hold the ninth and 25th picks in the first round and, according to numerous league sources, have made it clear to clubs with picks at the top that they are willing to talk trade.
The Redskins have identified Michigan wide receiver Braylon Edwards as the best player available, sources said, and scheduled a final conference-call interview between him and team officials yesterday. When asked about the conversation with Edwards, Coach Joe Gibbs responded, "We're talking to a lot of people right now."
Gibbs said last night that the Redskins would continue to look at various scenarios through late in the evening and he expected to be back at Redskins Park very early. The draft begins at noon.
Like other teams interested in moving up, the Redskins' ability to consummate a trade for a pick in the top three or four remained clouded by the uncertainty that has defined the days leading up to the draft. Most experts agree there is no clear No. 1 player, leading many teams, including San Francisco, which holds that first pick, to consider several scenarios. The Redskins have approached every team in the league about either trading up or down, team officials have said, but with the 49ers still signaling that they might take Edwards or trade down rather than take a quarterback with the first selection as of last night, other deals remained in limbo. Miami is eager to deal the second pick, several league sources said, and as of last night trades with Washington, Cleveland (third overall pick) and Tampa Bay (fifth overall) were all possible.
Multiple sources who have spoken with teams picking in the top 10 believe that the Dolphins remain the Redskins' most likely trade partner, with Miami seeking to add numerous picks under new coach Nick Saban. However, the Redskins likely would not put a firm offer on the table until they could be assured that Edwards would be there, league sources said, and although sources close to quarterback Alex Smith believe he will be taken by San Francisco with the top pick, until that determination is final, any such deal would be on hold. The Redskins have not expressed interest in Smith, according to sources with knowledge of the situation, and appear to be focusing their efforts to trade up on Edwards. Washington's willingness to deal wide receiver Rod Gardner, a former No. 1 pick, could also help complete a deal.
The 49ers could take their allotted 15 minutes to select today, attempting to get last-minute offers, which could provoke a team to make a better offer to land a player it feels could not be selected otherwise. Barring the 49ers taking Edwards, or trading the pick to a team that drafts him, several league sources believed the Redskins could put together a strong package to get the second-overall pick. If Washington were to deal those two picks to move up, it would be parting with five total draft picks -- including three first-rounders -- over two trades in order to land the player. The Redskins have not drafted a star receiver since taking Art Monk in the first round in 1980.
The Redskins' ability to trade up crystallized Monday night, when Washington sent its first- and fourth-round picks in 2006 and its third-round pick in 2005 to Denver to acquire the 25th overall pick. Several league sources suggested that the Redskins were gearing up for a run at Edwards, who has a combination of speed and size but was not rated the top receiver by some teams because of a propensity to drop passes. Team officials said the trade was made to give the team flexibility to trade up, move down or use number-one picks in a draft that is deep at cornerback and receiver, the positions to which the Redskins devoted a bulk of their pre-draft player interviews.
If the team does not trade up for a wide receiver, it could still select one today. Mike Williams, formerly of USC; Troy Williamson, South Carolina; Mark Clayton, Oklahoma; and Roddy White, Alabama-Birmingham; are projected first-round receivers in whom the team has shown interest.
Washington also is seeking reinforcement of its defensive line and a source suggested last night that Shawne Merriman of Maryland and David Pollack of Georgia both have impressed team management.
Furthermore, Washington showed interest in Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell, with Gibbs visiting him Tuesday; should the Redskins keep both top picks, he could be an option with the 25th choice.
The Redskins have thoroughly scouted the top three cornerbacks available -- Carlos Rogers, Antrel Rolle and Adam Jones -- and one of those players has a strong chance of being selected should the team use its ninth pick. League sources have indicated that Rogers would be the front-runner, but one or more cornerbacks could be gone by the ninth pick. The Redskins could also trade down from the ninth pick or the 25th pick to add more depth to their draft as well.
The team holds five picks in this weekend's draft, with selections in the fourth round (112), sixth round (183) and seventh round (222) as well. The Redskins could look at linebacker, offensive line and quarterback on the second day of the draft.
Redskins Notes: Fans can attend the team's draft-day party at FedEx Field today from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Gibbs will address the crowd on the field at some point, and players including Ray Brown, Rock Cartwright and Chris Cooley are scheduled to be on hand. . . . Of the 75 players on the roster, 16 were drafted by the Redskins, and only six were taken after the third round.