Defense Dominates Redskins' Draft Plans
Monday, May 1, 2006
After idling through the third and fourth rounds of the NFL draft without draft picks, the Washington Redskins yesterday again focused on defense. When it was over, Coach Joe Gibbs found himself talking not about the side of the ball that made him famous, but about how the Redskins unexpectedly used six picks over two days to draft five defensive players.
Yesterday's draft was quiet. The Redskins did not move up or down. They did not make a surprise splash by drafting the troubled former Virginia Tech quarterback Marcus Vick, who went undrafted over 255 selections.
But they did do plenty of waiting, and when their flurry of picks did arrive, they followed up on Saturday's second-round selection of Miami linebacker Rocky McIntosh by drafting two defensive linemen, a safety and a linebacker, with one offensive player -- an offensive lineman -- mixed in.
According to Gibbs, emphasizing defense wasn't a game plan.
"What we tried to do was say 'What's best for this football team?' and every case when we got to the picks of the guys that fit the best for us, the majority happened to be defense," Gibbs said. "It wasn't a plan by any means."
They selected Minnesota defensive lineman Anthony Montgomery in the fifth round -- 153rd overall -- and with two picks in the sixth round took Northern Colorado safety Reed Doughty (173) and Georgia defensive tackle Kedric Golston (196), who turned into a star college lineman despite shattering his femur in a car accident during his senior year in high school. Kili Lefotu, a 6-foot-5, 315-pound guard from Arizona was taken with the 230th pick before Tennessee inside linebacker Kevin Simon at 250 ended the Redskins' activity.
With the exception of Doughty, all of the defensive players had visited the Redskins' coaches.
The defensive emphasis came as something of a surprise for a team that seemed interested in depth on the offensive line and potentially at tight end. Gibbs said he was satisfied with the personnel on his offensive line, though three key starters -- Jon Jansen, Randy Thomas and Casey Rabach -- are recovering from injuries, few of the reserves have much experience at tackle and important reserve Ray Brown retired last season.
The next step before the weekend's rookie camp will be for the Redskins to invite 11 undrafted free agents to camp. Gibbs said the selections wouldn't be based as much on positional needs as on his interest in individual talents. As an aside, Gibbs said the Redskins had no interest in working out Vick as a free agent.
"No," Gibbs said about possible interest in Vick. "I think we're pretty set at quarterback."
Montgomery, a 6-5, 312-pound tackle from Minnesota, visited the Redskins two weeks ago amid interesting circumstances. Despite having never played any position except defensive tackle, Montgomery had begun to be projected by some experts as an offensive lineman, either a guard or tackle because of what many considered his inability to create adequate pressure through the middle. In 22 games, he recorded two sacks and 48 total tackles without forcing a fumble.
Montgomery did not fight the possible conversion, citing his desire to play in the NFL. But when he visited the Redskins, he was encouraged that they considered him a defensive tackle. On visits to Green Bay and Cincinnati, he was projected on the offensive line.
"From the time I set foot in the door, it felt like home. It felt like this was where I was supposed to be," he said. "Everybody was friendly. There were a lot of guys who were working out. I was talking to a couple of players like [Antwaan] Randle El, who treated me like I was on the team forever."
Montgomery said he weighed 330 pounds at his maximum, but lost roughly 20 pounds over the past few months. He went from 190 pounds as a freshman in high school to 295 pounds by graduation.
"I know he's ecstatic to be in Washington," said his agent, Joe Palumbo. "I know he was concerned because he's comfortable as a defensive lineman and that offensive line was new to him. The Redskins viewed him as a defensive lineman from the start and they really studied the film on him."
Although Palumbo said he did not think Montgomery was going to be necessarily hurt by being a fifth-round pick, he also did not think Montgomery being the second pick the Redskins selected would particularly aid him, either.
"I think he's coming into a great opportunity where his status will be based on his performance in rookie camp and training camp. Ultimately, he'll be judged by what he does on the field."
Montgomery will have a chance to compete. The Redskins re-signed Cedric Killings, but days ago released Aki Jones, another defensive lineman.
Doughty, 23, was never invited to visit the Redskins but met with team officials at the NFL combine. At 6-1, 210 pounds, he missed one game in college and finished third in team history in tackles with 466, fifth in interceptions and eighth in fumble recoveries.