Over the past 12 months, Mike Allman, the Redskins' director of college scouting, has traveled 75,000 miles in the air and 25,000 on the road. He has visited more than 60 colleges, watched games and practices in temperatures ranging from 10 degrees to 100, seen miles of grainy film and taken copious notes on more than 400 senior football players.
And so, too, have Bobby Mitchell, the team's director of pro scouting, and scouts Mike Faulkiner and Kirk Mee. On Tuesday, the Redskins are hoping all that tedious, bone-wearing work will help produce a good football player in the fourth round of the NFL's 1977 collegiate draft.
The Redskins will not draft until the 97th player. They will also have picks in the 10th, 11th and 12th rounds. The rest of their choices have been scattered throughout the league as payment for veteran players obtained in trades over the last four seasons.
Coach George Allen says the Redskins likely will be drafting the top defensive player still on the board with their fourth-round pick. That choice came to the Redskins when they traded safety Bryant Salter to the Miami Dolphins last summer for Jake Scott.
Allman and his scouts have provided Allen a list of a half dozen players they believe will be available when the Redskins' turn comes. Most are defensive linemen with the ability to provide a strong pass rush.
"We've got some age on the defensive line," says Allman. "It seems like Ron McDole has played for 84 years. He still does a great job, but you're walking on thin ice, and we have to protect ourselves.
"We realize some of the names we want won't be there when we draft. But I think we can come up with a good player. It's an excellent year for defensive linemen, offensive linemen and running backs. I'm very optimistic."
Adds Allen, "I feel we can get a guy who can help us this year and maybe even play regularly for us. I can tell you this, we've never been better prepared for a draft since I've been here.
"Draft choices are more important than ever under the new (collective bargaining) agreement. It's a whole new ball game, really. Nobody is making any trades, so you've got to come up with good players any way you can."
By the time the Redskins choose in the final three rounds of the draft, shortened from 17 to 12 rounds this year, Allen probably will be looking for the best all-around-athlete, regardless of position.
"Between the draft and the free agents we're bringing in," Allen said, "we're hoping to come up with five players who can make our team."
Last year, only one Redskin draft choice - eight-round pick Brian Fryer - made the club. Fryer, a wide receiver, was injured midway through the season and placed on the injured reserve list. Ninth-round pick Curtis Akins also was on injured reserve for the season.
Mike Hughes, the Redskins' fifth-round choice and first pick in the 1976 draft, left training camp the first week. But he has decided to try football again this year.
The Redskins obviously have had great success in the draft in recent years despite the absence of choices in the first four rounds. Running back Mike Thomas, for example, was a fifth-round pick in 1975 and a half dozen players on the current roster were selected after the eighth round.
And where have all the Redskins' other 1977 choices gone? Their No. 1 choice this year went to St. Louis as compensation for Dave Butz. No. 2 belongs to San Diego for Salter, as does the No. 3 pick for Deacon Jones.
The Redskins' own fourth-round choice belongs to Miami in a trade that brought tight end Marv Fleming in 1975. Fleming did not make the team.
The fifth-round choice went to Los Angeles for Larry Smith (now retired), No. 6 to Philadelphia for Joe Lavender, No. 7 to Houston for Ron Saul, No. 8 to Kansas City for John Matuszak (cut in 1976) and No. 9 to Atlanta for Ted Fritsch.
Jones, Salter, Fleming, Smith and Matuszak no longer are with the team. But Butz starts at defensive tackle, Scott at safety, Lavender at cornerback and Saul at guard. Fritsch, a reserve center, handles all punt and placement snaps.