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In NFL Draft, Redskins' new leaders face same old predicament

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 18, 2010

Since taking control of the Washington Redskins, General Manager Bruce Allen and Coach Mike Shanahan have drawn glowing reviews from around the league for their quick maneuvering to improve the franchise's fortunes. But even as signs of change are evident in all corners of Redskins Park, the team will enter this week's draft situated similarly to years past: too many needs, not nearly enough picks.

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The three-day draft commences Thursday night in New York and the Redskins have only four of the draft's 255 picks, fewer than any other NFL team. In fact, 21 teams have twice as many picks, and Cleveland and New England hold three times as many as Washington.

"I think the Redskins' mission statement over the years, particularly under Dan Snyder -- I think Dan wants to win now," ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said. "Dan doesn't really want to wait three or four years, which is fine. You have to, I think, look at today in the draft and next year's draft and when you start giving away too many picks, it affects your ability to build that team from the ground up."

The Redskins traded away their second-round pick this month as part of the Donovan McNabb deal. They lost the third-round pick because they selected defensive lineman Jeremy Jarmon in the supplemental draft a year ago. And their sixth-rounder belongs to the Miami Dolphins as part of the Jason Taylor trade in 2008.

Kiper believes a team with so many holes should better utilize the draft to build a foundation of talent.

"And the Redskins believe otherwise," he said. "They believe in packaging picks to move up, or giving away picks for this guy or that guy. That's not my philosophy. So the Redskins' way is not my way. That doesn't mean that you can't win that way . . . that can get you to a playoff once in a while, as it has. They've had a couple playoff games here and there. But to try to get to a Super Bowl, to me, that's not the way I would build a football team."

And it might not necessarily be the overriding philosophy of Allen and Shanahan either. Though they traded away the second-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles, they're largely playing the hand they've been dealt by the team's previous regime.

The Redskins have twice before had four draft picks or fewer -- in 2003 and 2004 -- but many around the league will be looking to see if Shanahan and Allen can successfully stockpile more picks.

The team has several players who could hear their names included in trade talks this week, including quarterback Jason Campbell, defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, linebacker Rocky McIntosh and safety LaRon Landry.

With the fourth overall pick, it's also possible the Redskins attempt to move down in the draft. Or up.

"Something tells me they're going to be the first team to shake things up before all is said and done," said Todd McShay, another ESPN draft analyst.

Asked if the draft is the best way to build a team, Allen was evasive and noncommittal on Saturday. "There's several ways," he said. "It's through the draft, free agency, trades and the waiver wire."

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