The temptation is almost overwhelming to turn toward Redskin General Manager Bobby Beathard before the NFL draft Tuesday and scream: "Don't pick anyone but defensive linemen. You have nine choices; you can use all nine to get somebody who can rush the passer and stop a runner stronger than Rosie Ruiz, preferably a fellow who can do both.

"You found linebackers everyone else overlooked last year who apparently can play in the NFL -- and well. This year you should have been rivited on large and mobile nasties with the philosophy of the country and western lyric: 'I'm either living too fast or dying too slow.'

"Forget Sims and Lam, the great cornerbacks and blockers. Go for the Incredible Hulks. Fatten 'em up and feed 'em mean pills and rumors about NFC East quarterbacks threatening to kidnap their mothers.

"Let Diron Talbert counsel them. Let him repeat such wisdom as: 'Sometimes if you just get close enough to certain quarterbacks to yell a dirty name they'll start to fold up.'

"At that moment, Bobby, you have the 18th pick in the draft -- and the 55th, 103rd, 157th, 189th, 243rd, 270th, 297th and 329th. Don't waste any of them on anyone who cannot bench press Redskin Park and peek through a transom flatfooted."

This is a special moment for athletic Washington. It has been four presidents since the Redskins got to choose from the collegiate litter on the first round. Sometimes they hardly had a choice on the first day of the draft.

Mostly, draft day for Washingtonians was a time to try and forget that George Allen had traded draft picks so far in the future that they would be used for the sons of players he has just signed for the Redskins.

Beathard could not be more unlike Allen. And the Redskins are celebrating their first reasonably complete draft in 12 years as though a national holiday ought to be declared. By midafternoon Tuesday, some relatively unknown scholar will be hailed as the Redskins' Moses. He will just happen to be the "best athlete available" at the time.

He might have to be forced from the library stacks or physics lab to be informed of his good fortune. By coincidence, he might be near the very phone the Redskins call on. Possibly, it will reach the second ring.

The town has been without a No 1 draft choice long enough to be puzzled about what he ought to be -- or what he ought to do for the team. Given his history, we can almost be sure Beathard will select an excellent player. Given Jack Pardee's history, the new Redskin will realize whatever potential he has.

Those are two statements not every NFL city can make. The draft is supposed to be the great sporting equilizer, a reward for incompetence. But not every fool knows how to use the league's most precious tool.

For years, the New Orleans Saints were drafting dolts, the sort who draft O. J. Simpson but who also might suggest he be switched to tight end. The Baltimore Colts seemed to have those instincts the last few years.

Redskin history, even before Beathard, has been filled with wise draft choices, low-round Frank Grants and free-agent Terry Hermelings who became regulars. If they could find such gems so low in the draft, Tuesday's first choice ought to be the Hope Diamond.

He just might be mortal. He also might not be what the Redskins need most, a defensive lineman. But he might be good enough to make the defensive line seem improved next season.

Football teams properly are called machines now and then, though they are not built like any other, You would not put five tires on a car and expect it to run faster and more efficiently. Why would you buy an extra engine or a plane with one wing?

That sort of real-world idiocy often is considered brilliant in sports. There are even cliches to bolster the logic, the you-never-can-have-too-much-pitching line in baseball and the never-turn-down-a-big-man-or-a-point-guard theory in basketball.

The football counterpart on draft day is "best athlete available." It means that you want filet, but only low-grade hamburger is available on your turn. So you take the spinach, realize it will do you more good and then tell everyone it's what you craved all along.

On teams such as the Redskins, first-round draft choices had better become starters in a hurry. But if there is nobody capable of beating out Coy Bacon or Diron Talbert or Karl Lorch for a year Washington will choose someone ready to replace Benny Malone. Or a wide receiver.

And the increased yardage the new offensive stallion brings keeps the defensive line off the field that much longer. Or the increased points forces the opposition to telegraph its ofensive punches.

Still, how do we measure this highly unusual new Redskin? There have been no other No. 1s in recent team history to use as standards.

Ah, but there has been a first-round pick each year, a player Allen regarded as worth that price in the NFL barter mart.

Sometime in his NFL life, if not immediately, the young player Beathard chooses Tuesday should be as good as an old one Allen brought in years ago. A receiver must be as good as Roy Jefferson, a defensive lineman as good as prime-time Talbert, a quarterback as good as Joe Theismann.

A team that cannot make itself considerably better with one choice in the first 18 and two in the first 55 has been sinfully wasting its time and money. A surprising number of them cannot.