The Washington Redskins, who had the fewest picks in the 44 years of the National Football League draft, nevertheless selected the "five players we wanted all along," according to General Manager Bobby Beathard.
Looking to upgrade problem areas of a year ago, the Redskins used their final four choices yesterday to tap two linebackers and two wide receivers.
The Redskins used their seventh-round pick to take Penn State's Rich Milot, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound linebacker and a late-season bloomer who, Beathard said, the Redskins wanted "badly."
"We had to sweat him out," Beathard said. "We even tried to make a deal for a higher pick on the round so we wouldn't lose him. We think he's going to develop into a good linebacker."
The Redskins used their ninth-round pick to take Notre Dame's Kris Haines, a 5-11, 183-pound wide receiver who made the last-second end-zone catch to beat Houston, 34-33, in the Cotton Bowl. With their two 11th-round choices, they selected Monte Coleman Of Arkansas-Central, a 6-foot, 205-pound linebacker, and Tony Hall, a 5-9 165-pound pass catcher-punt returner fron Knoxville.
Washington took Don Warren of San Diego State, a 6-4, 230-pound tight end, on the fourth round Thursday afternoon.
While none of the Redskins' five draft choices look like immediate starters, both Beathard and Coach Jack Pardee said they believe the players could help the team next season.
"We didn't pick a person we didn't want. So I'm pleased with that," said Beathard, following the day's activities. "I know it's hard to convince people that players taken so late can come in and help you.But we think the ones we got can. I think four of the five will stick.
"T can't say how many have a chance to start.We'll just have to see how they develop. I would think Warren, because he was rated the highest and is such a good player, may have the best chance. But you don't want to put the kind of pressure on a kid. I like Haines, too. He's quick, has excellent hands and knows how to get open."
Pardee also appeared happy with the afternoon's work.
"Not to have but five choices, I feel we did well," he said. "Of course, we were lucky to get (fullback) Don Testerman earlier as a free agent. Ado him to these five and we did all right. We got players in three areas where we could use a little help."
Milot came on strong at the end of Penn State's season.He replaced the injured Rick Donaldson, regarded before the season as the next great. Nittany Lion linebacker, three games into the schedule and started the final eight games. Donaldson never could regain his starting position.
Milot, described as a hard hitter with good speed, intercepted four passes last season.
Haines is best remembered for his catch of Joe Montana's bullet in the corner of the end zone to climax one of the most exciting bowl games ever. He caught 63 passes for 1,350 yards and scored seven touchdowns at Notre Dame. He had 32 catches for 699 yards and scored five times last year.
His best performance was a nine-reception day for 179 yards and one touchdown against Southern California. He finished as the school's season record holder for average per catch with a 21.8-yard mark.
"I thought I'd go the first day," said Haines, a 9.7 sprinter. "I has beginning to panic. I thought a conspiracy of some kind was going on. Maybe teams think I'm too slow.
"I saw some people taken before me I felt I was better than. But I'm glad to be picked by the Redskins. They have a good organization and I'll get a fair chance to play."
Coleman and Hall, the 300th player selected, played for relatively unknown schools. Coleman, like Milot, played several positions at Arkansas-Central before finding a home at linebacker. According to Beathard, he started out as a safety but put on weight and was moved to linebacker.
"We gambled he would still be around in the 11th round (Washington had no picks in the eight, 10th or 12th rounds). He's fast and a good athlete."
Hall, a darting-type runner with good hands, was picked because he was a fine kick returner as well as a tough receiver at Knoxville.
Pardee said he didn't consider any of the draftees "sleepers."
"Teams draft the players they have a feel or a need for," Pardee said. "Everyone knows about all the players. We concentrated on players who are hard workers and are smart. You can look around at the other teams and see many drafted players they had a feel for rather a need."
Pardee was referring to other teams in the Redskins' division who pulled a few surprises with their selections.
"St. Louis could have rebuilt its entire backfield by taking three running backs with its first three choices, but didn't. And Philadelphia got a great kicker (Texas A&M's Tony Franklin)," Pardee said. "I think our division drafted really well. We lost a lot of ground the first day but the second day I think we drafted as well as anyone."
Pardee said he had hoped to get a defensive back, but decided not to because the other athletes graded higher.
"We may find one among the free agents." Pardee said. "But, we won't be looking for specific players at specific positions. We'll hit all spots."
Beathard said he had no idea who he would try to sign first as a free agent but had his "people all over looking."