By Jason Reid and Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
The Washington Redskins have intensified their efforts in preparation for this month's NFL draft, beginning key meetings yesterday at Redskins Park. Although the team has compiled information on draft-eligible players and discussed its options for weeks, Washington has only started to formulate its strategy.
"Now is when we really get going," said Vinny Cerrato, Washington's executive vice president of football operations. "This is when you look at all the information you have and start putting it all together. From now until the draft, this is the focus."
Barring trades to change its position, Washington will pick 21st in the draft on April 26-27. The Redskins have nine picks (they do not have a fourth-round selection), including three compensatory picks -- an extra one in the third round and two additional seventh-round picks. The Redskins selected safety LaRon Landry with the sixth overall pick in the 2007 draft. Landry played a major role as a rookie starter, helping Washington advance to the playoffs for the first time since the 2005 season. Linebacker H.B. Blades, selected in the sixth round, contributed on special teams and as a reserve on defense.
After declining to pursue free agents to address most of their needs, the Redskins will depend on the draft to fill holes along the offensive and defensive lines, at wide receiver, cornerback and safety. Holding many selections and hoping to bolster several areas on the roster, the Redskins are seeking "quality and quantity," Cerrato said. "What we need to do, because we're going to have a lot of picks this year, we need to have a good draft where we're adding an influx of young guys on the team.
"Instead of just adding a couple of guys this time, we need [a draft] where we're adding quantity and quality guys. We need talented guys that can initially play a role and have the potential to become starters. And the biggest thing you need is good people.
"Is that a lot? Yeah. But we feel like we're in good shape. We're not looking for these young guys to come in here and start. And with our team right now, it would be difficult for a young guy to do that."
Defensive coordinator Greg Blache has voiced his desire to use the 21st pick on an interior lineman, preferably one who possesses superior pass-rushing skills for the position, league sources said. The highest-rated defensive linemen are expected to be off the board when the Redskins pick, but the team could move up through a trade.
"You look at everything," said Cerrato, not commenting specifically on the Redskins' internal discussions. "You look at who's available and you consider all of your options" as the draft progresses.
Coach Jim Zorn has played down the need for the Redskins to draft a big wide receiver, but Cerrato acknowledged he hopes to provide quarterback Jason Campbell with some bigger targets as the team transitions to Zorn's version of the West Coast offense. The age and health of the offensive line are other concerns for the Redskins.
In July, left guard Pete Kendall turns 35 and Pro Bowl left tackle Chris Samuels turns 31. Right guard Randy Thomas and right tackle Jon Jansen are both 32, and center Casey Rabach is 30. Backup guard-tackle Jason Fabini turns 34 in August and backup tackle Todd Wade is 31. The Redskins said they must continue to have success with undrafted players.
"The undrafted guys, that kind of adds to it, they kind of add to your draft, which is great," Cerrato said. "But what [owner Daniel Snyder] says is that if we're picking in the top 10, he wants a perennial Pro Bowl guy, and we've kind of hung in with that one pretty close.
"What we need to do is, we need to be a little more successful later on. We need to add more guys there."
Redskins Note: The preseason schedule has been finalized. The Redskins will play Indianapolis at 8 p.m. on Aug. 3 in Canton, Ohio; will host Buffalo at 7 p.m. Aug. 9; will play the Jets in New York at 7 p.m. Aug. 16; will play at Carolina at 7 p.m. Aug. 23; and will host Jacksonville at 7 p.m. Aug. 28.