Redskins Could Trade Up to Take Mark Sanchez in NFL Draft

By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 23, 2009

Despite having only one pick in the first 79 selections of this weekend's NFL draft, the Washington Redskins could trade up in an attempt to select a potential franchise quarterback, team officials said yesterday, such as Southern California's Mark Sanchez.

"I think anything is possible," Vinny Cerrato, Washington's executive vice president of football operations, said during the predraft news conference at Redskins Park. "It's just what you're willing to give up."

The Redskins hold the 13th overall selection in the two-day draft that begins Saturday in New York and have five total picks but none in the second and fourth rounds.

Although owner Daniel Snyder, Cerrato and Coach Jim Zorn were reluctant to comment on particular draft-eligible players yesterday, Sanchez made a favorable impression on Snyder, league sources said, during his visit with the team last week. The team also appears to have needs along the offensive and defensive lines and at linebacker.

Sanchez started only 16 games for the Trojans, but he has emerged as a player many teams have considered selecting in the first round, in part because of his charisma and commanding presence, NFL sources said. He has drawn interest from several clubs that pick ahead of the Redskins. With Sanchez's name listed high on many draft boards, the Redskins might have to trade into the top three to pick him.

"In terms of [our] willingness to go up or down [in] the draft, we are always flexible," Snyder said.

With only one selection early in the process, the Redskins might not have as much trade bait in this draft as a team such as the New York Jets, who are picking 17th and also are believed to be interested in moving up for a chance to get Sanchez.

The Redskins traded their second-round pick (No. 44) to the Miami Dolphins for defensive end Jason Taylor and their fourth-round pick (No. 115) to the Jets for guard Pete Kendall.

Taylor was released in March, and Kendall, a free agent at the end of last season, was not re-signed. Because of the Redskins' situation, they might have to offer multiple first-round picks to secure a high enough spot to bring in Sanchez.

"It is what it is," Cerrato said of losing the picks through trades. "We made a trade last year and gave up our second pick. To me, at the time we did it, it was the right thing. The way it turned out, you wish Jason [Taylor] would have stayed healthy."

The Redskins conducted a private workout with Sanchez and other USC prospects last month. Zorn, a longtime NFL quarterback and formerly Seattle's quarterbacks coach, declined to provide his evaluation of "a guy that is not even on our roster."

Earlier this month, the Redskins failed in their pursuit of former Denver Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler, who was traded to the Chicago Bears. Snyder pushed to complete a deal with Denver in an attempt to solve the team's decades-long pursuit of a franchise quarterback, one league source said.

But the Broncos accepted the Bears' offer of quarterback Kyle Orton, two first-round draft picks and a third-round pick in exchange for Cutler and a fifth-round pick.

In addition to Washington's trade talks with Denver, a high-ranking Redskins official contacted another NFL team about the possibility of trading Jason Campbell, who has been the starter the past 2 1/2 seasons, for a second-round pick in the upcoming draft, another NFL source said.

Speaking on behalf of Cerrato, team spokesman Zack Bolno denied the team had inquired about trading Campbell.

Snyder, Cerrato, Zorn and Campbell met to clear the air the day after Cutler was traded to Chicago, and Cerrato, through the team, released a statement indicating everyone was "on the same page, and we are moving forward."

Despite the Redskins' efforts to replace Campbell with Cutler and potentially trade him to a team other than Denver, and their apparent strong interest in Sanchez, they still are committed to Campbell as being the projected starter for the 2009 season, Zorn said.

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