Redskins Have 6th Sense

By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 28, 2007

Team officials left Redskins Park last night expecting to take a player with the sixth overall pick in today's draft, while still exploring options to trade the selection. Before staff members left the team's training facility, they were told the most likely scenario was that Washington would use its first-round pick, according to sources, although the team will discuss trades with other clubs right up to the deadline to make its selection.

Trade talks with the Chicago Bears for Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs had not advanced as of early last night, according to sources, although the sides were expected to speak again before Washington selects today. The Redskins have held firm in their offer to swap first-round picks with Chicago (31st pick) to acquire Briggs, while the Bears' last offer asked for an additional draft pick from Washington. "So far, nobody's blinked," said one source with knowledge of the situation, although a league source indicated he still believed it was possible the Bears could accept Washington's original offer.

It's conceivable that a trade could occur after the Redskins draft, assuming the player they select with the sixth pick is of interest to the Bears.

Barring the almost unfathomable proposition of Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson falling to the sixth pick -- there still was a remote chance the Redskins would move up to select him -- the team would address its 31st-ranked defense with the pick. Louisiana State safety LaRon Landry remained the highest-rated defensive player on Washington's draft board, according to sources, and should Coach Joe Gibbs and owner Daniel Snyder stick to the board, he would be the pick. Louisville defensive tackle Amobi Okoye is the team's second-highest rated defensive player, and selecting any other defender that high in the draft was seen as a stretch among club officials.

Even with Landry and Okoye earning quality grades from the Redskins, the preference among many in the organization is to trade down to acquire additional draft picks or players.

Minnesota (seventh pick) and Atlanta (eighth) also covet Landry, and it's possible one of those teams could engage the Redskins in trade talks, in which case Washington would grab an additional draft pick (it does not pick in the second, third or fourth rounds) and gladly take Okoye. Should an elite offensive player such as Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn or Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson fall to the sixth pick, Washington's odds of trading down would increase, although in general such trades while on the clock are difficult to consummate.

Buffalo (12th overall) and Green Bay (16th) might consider moving up for Peterson, according to league sources, while Miami (ninth) could make a move for Quinn should he start to slip. If the Redskins traded down in the No. 10 to 20 range, they would target Arkansas defensive end Jamaal Anderson or Nebraska defensive end Adam Carriker and also believe Pittsburgh cornerback Darrelle Revis, Arkansas cornerback Chris Houston and Mississippi linebacker Patrick Willis would be strong value picks there, according to sources.

If the Briggs trade is completed, the Redskins would seek help at defensive back, defensive line or on the offensive line with the 31st pick. Texas cornerback Aaron Ross and safety Michael Griffin have strong support internally in that range, while versatile Tennessee tackle Justin Harrell would be alluring, too, sources said. Texas offensive lineman Justin Blalock, Tennessee's Arron Sears and Auburn's Ben Grubbs are seen as candidates to be long-term replacements for departed starting guard Derrick Dockery by some.

Despite defensive end being a position of great need, sources said the Redskins have serious character concerns regarding Purdue's Anthony Spencer and Florida's Jarvis Moss, both of whom are projected to be late-first round picks but are unlikely fits for Washington. Similarly talented defensive tackle Marcus Thomas, who was kicked off the team at Florida but could be a steal on the second day of the draft, is not even on the Redskins' draft board, sources said, with the team placing a premium on off-field behavior.

The Redskins also have invested significant time and manpower into scouting top-rated Johnson, Ted Ginn Jr. (Ohio State) and Dwayne Bowe (LSU) -- working out Ginn as recently as Thursday, according to sources -- and have continued to dabble with the idea of taking one of them. Team officials have debated how hard to go after Johnson -- any trade offer likely would have to start with their 2008 first-round pick -- and could still make a bid for him today. Also, should the Redskins trade down with Ginn or Bowe still available, there likely would be at least some discussion about taking them, though picking for need probably would prevail in the lower stages of the first round, Gibbs has said.

Redskins Notes: Baylor punter Daniel Sepulveda bears watching as a second-day pick. He is a superior athlete and gifted punter who could go on the first day. Sepulveda's father, Carlos, is the president and chief executive of Interstate Batteries and has a strong relationship with Gibbs through their NASCAR connections, sources said. . . . The Redskins likely will look at linebackers and line help tomorrow, when they hold two picks in the sixth round and one in the fifth and seventh rounds.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company