Redskins Are Switching Sides
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
The Washington Redskins resumed preparations for the draft at Redskins Park yesterday, shifting their attention to offense after primarily focusing on defensive players last week.
"We're getting there," Coach Jim Zorn said. "We've got a lot of the defense done, most of the defensive board, and now it's on to offense. I think everyone in the organization is" pleased with the progress.
Since early last week, Zorn and Vinny Cerrato, executive vice president of football operations, and their staffs have met for about 16 hours a day, reviewing videotapes of players and discussing options, Cerrato said. Washington, which holds the 21st pick in the April 26-27 draft, also has scheduled visits this week with draft-eligible players. Former Oklahoma wide receiver Malcolm Kelly and former Tennessee linebacker Jerod Mayo are among the players the Redskins plan to host.
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. Washington has needs along the offensive and defensive lines, at wide receiver, cornerback and safety. The Redskins also plan to select a quarterback to fill the No. 3 job behind starter Jason Campbell and backup Todd Collins.
"It's still a work in progress, but we're making good progress," Cerrato said. "The scouts, coaches, everybody . . . you can tell that they've all done a tremendous job of preparing for the meetings. And the meetings, thus far, have been very productive.
"Everybody has been very forthright about the players. There's a good understanding in the room of what we need to do as an organization. So the preparation is going well, we've got two more weeks of preparation and we're going to take advantage of the time we have."
Some mock drafts have the Redskins selecting Kelly with the 21st pick. At 6 feet 4 and 224 pounds, Kelly fits the size requirements of a big wide receiver, and the Redskins hope to provide Campbell with a bigger target as they make the transition to Zorn's version of the West Coast offense.
Although he played only three seasons at Oklahoma, Kelly is second on the school's all-time list with 2,285 yards receiving and fifth with 144 receptions. With 21 career touchdown receptions, Kelly is tied for seventh in Big 12 Conference history. At a recent workout for NFL scouts at Oklahoma, Kelly had a disappointing performance in the 40-yard dash. And after being clocked at 4.68 seconds, Kelly raised eyebrows in making critical comments about Oklahoma and how the workout was conducted.
Kelly said he had 40-yard dash times of 4.5 seconds and 4.47 seconds in another recent workout. To allay concerns about his speed, Kelly would be willing to run again for any team, his agent told reporters after the workout at Oklahoma.
With weak-side linebacker Rocky McIntosh recovering from reconstructive knee surgery, the Redskins are expected to draft an outside linebacker. The Redskins have expressed optimism about McIntosh being ready to start the 2008 season, but McIntosh also has a potentially degenerative condition in both knees. Mayo, who also declared for the draft after his junior year, was a weak-side linebacker in his first two years at Tennessee and switched to middle linebacker before last season. Mayo (6-1, 242) led the Volunteers with 140 tackles last season.
The age and the health of the offensive line are among the Redskins' top concerns. Washington wants to add a versatile lineman who could challenge for time at guard immediately and could potentially start at tackle soon, said sources involved with Washington's draft process. Virginia guard/tackle Branden Albert (6-7, 315) is highly regarded by the Redskins.
Defensive coordinator Greg Blache has voiced his desire for the team to draft an interior lineman, preferably one with superior pass-rush skills for the position, with its top pick, sources said. Cerrato, however, said no coaches have made specific position requests in the Redskins' meetings. "The comments Coach Blache has made is that he wants the best player for the Redskins. That's it," Cerrato said. "When the pick is made, I think that's the one thing we have with our scouts, coaches and everybody in the organization . . . we all just want to do what's in the best interest of the Redskins.
"No one is in the meetings saying that they've got to have this position or that position. Everybody is on board with getting the best guy, and the right guy, for the Redskins. There's no coach in there saying, 'I've got to have him.' That's totally not happening. It's all about what's best for the team."