By Jason La Canfora and Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, April 26, 2008
The Washington Redskins' efforts to trade their first-round pick -- No. 21 overall -- in today's NFL draft are expected to continue as the selection process unfolds, and the Redskins could focus on defense if they fail to make a deal, league and team sources said yesterday.
Washington has tried to trade the first of its nine picks in the two-day draft, hoping to get a top wide receiver from another team or change its position on the board. But the Redskins have been rebuffed in attempts to acquire productive wide receivers, including Chad Johnson of Cincinnati and Anquan Boldin of Arizona. It appeared doubtful they would accomplish their goal of exchanging the pick for an established player, according to league sources.
Vinny Cerrato, Washington's executive vice president of football operations, has offered the 21st pick to teams selecting ahead of and behind the Redskins in the first round and those with high picks in the second round. League sources said the Redskins believed as of last night that at least two teams had significant interest in moving up to No. 21 if certain players were available.
In a best-case scenario for the Redskins, top prospects such as Virginia guard-tackle Branden Albert (6 feet 6 1/2 , 317 pounds) or Vanderbilt tackle Chris Williams (6-5 1/2 , 317) would be available at No. 21. Washington, which has age and injury concerns along its offensive line, holds both players in high regard.
Barring a trade, Albert and Williams are expected to be off the board long before the Redskins pick. The Redskins also have shown interest in Pittsburgh tackle Jeff Otah (6-6, 339), but they might have to move up to get him, too.
If the Redskins fail to acquire the veteran wide receivers they seek and are not in position to take Albert or Williams, their first pick could come down to a choice among Florida defensive end Derrick Harvey (6-4 1/2 , 252), Clemson defensive end Phillip Merling (6-4 1/2 , 282) or Tennessee linebacker Jerod Mayo (6-1, 242), sources said.
Merling was considered a top 10 pick before he was unable to participate in the physical portion of the combine while recovering from sports hernia surgery. He made a strong impression during his 45-minute workout Thursday at Clemson, league sources said, and Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Blache has voiced his desire for the team to add young defensive lineman.
But the Redskins are concerned Merling might not be up to speed at the start of the season because of his injury, sources said. If Harvey is available at No. 21, he would be considered the best player remaining on the board, according to some scouts, and the Redskins could have him rated slightly higher than Merling because of the injury issue.
Two scouts contacted last night, however, said they did not believe Harvey would be available at No. 21.
Redskins weak-side linebacker Rocky McIntosh is recovering from reconstructive knee surgery. Although the team has expressed optimism about McIntosh being ready to start the season, McIntosh also has a potential degenerative condition in both knees. Mayo led the Volunteers with 140 tackles last season.
The Redskins also hope to bolster the receiving corps as the team transitions to new coach Jim Zorn's version of the West Coast offense. After evaluating Merling on Thursday, a large Redskins contingent, which included Jason Campbell, also attended the final workouts of Oklahoma wide receiver Malcolm Kelly (6-3 1/2 , 219) and wide receiver Jordy Nelson (6-3, 217) of Kansas State.
Campbell threw passes to Kelly and Nelson, and the Redskins might select Kelly, Nelson or Limas Sweed (6-4 1/2 , 212) of Texas early in the draft to add a bigger player at the position.
Kelly slid down several draft boards because of his disappointing performances in the 40-yard dash (he posted times as high as 4.69 seconds in workouts this month) and questions about his maturity. The Redskins, sources said, also have concerns about Kelly's knees. Kelly, Nelson and Sweed are not expected to go in the first round, scouts said, so the Redskins could wait until the second round to address this position.
Unless something unforeseen occurs with Albert or Williams, the Redskins might wait until the third round to get an offensive lineman. Offensive line coach Joe Bugel has raved about tackle Duane Brown (6-4 1/2 , 308) of Virginia Tech.
Redskins Notes: The Redskins rejected the Miami Dolphins' overtures to trade defensive end Jason Taylor, according to league sources. Miami is seeking draft picks in exchange for the NFL's 2006 defensive player of the year, but the Redskins are not interested in Taylor, 33. . . .
Dre Moore (6-4, 305) of Maryland, Letroy Guion (6-4, 303) of Florida State and Trevor Laws (6-1, 304) of Notre Dame are among the defensive tackles who could fit well with the Redskins, sources said. . . .
With only three safeties on the roster, the Redskins are expected to select one on the second day. They are high on Kareem Moore (6-2, 203) of Nicholls State, team sources said. Thomas Decoud (6-2, 204) of California and Tyrell Johnson (6-1, 205) of Arkansas State also are on Washington's radar. . . .
Erik Ainge (6-6, 225) of Tennessee, Josh Johnson (6-3, 198) of the University of San Diego are among the quarterbacks the Redskins have considered drafting to fill the No. 3 job behind Campbell and backup Todd Collins, sources said.