General Manager Bobby Beathard was deluged with enough attractive trade proposals last night the he wouldn't rule out the possibility of a major Redskin deal during the opening round of today's NFL draft.

Beathard said he still was conducting talks with Baltimore that could land the Redskins speedy running back Joe Washington. But the Colts' asking price -- presumably the Redskins' second-round pick plus additional players or choices -- remained too high for Beathard's liking.

The other possible trade discussions apparently center around exchanging high Washington selections for a quantity of choices from another team. Beathard would be attracted to such a deal because he is convinced there are numerous second-, third- and fourth-round players available who would be able to make the squad. Washington has no third-, seventh- or 10th-round pick in the draft, which begins at 10 a.m.

Beathard would not reveal the names of any current Redskins players involved in these talks, although his only marketable athletes, now that Brad Dusek is sidelined, are cornerbacks Lemar Parrish and Joe Lavender. Those two were involved in potential trades last season.

"Maybe the odds are 50-50 that something will happen Tuesday morning," Beathard said. "Things are heating up like they always do. We'll listen to any serious preposals."

One move that might have influenced their draft thinking - the early signing of running back Terry Metcalf - was delayed yesterday when the Redskins completed plans to work out the ex-Cardinal star during next week's three-day mandatory minicamp at Redskin Park.They will then decide whether to pursue talks with St. Louis over compensation.

"We want to make sure just how good Terry is right now before we go much further in our discussions with St. Louis," Beathard said. The Cardinals had requested a high draft choice, probably a third, during previous talks, but Beathard says the price is too high. He is unlikely to give up anything higher than a pick in the fifth round.

If St. Louis agrees to a lower draft pick for compensation, Washington will probably sign Metcalf, who has played in the Canadian Football League the last three years. He used to be a feared NFL breakaway threat.

Beathard's strategy today most likely will be based on what player the Redskins can select on the first round. If he is convinced they can obtain an offensive tackle like Mark May of Pittsburgh, Brian Holloway of Stanford or Howard Richards of Missouri or a running back like Randy McMillan of Pittsburgh or David Overstreet of Oklahoma or a wide receiver like David Verser of Kansas, he probably will not make a trade.

He also could wind up springing a major surprise by choosing a player who is not rated highly by other teams or the scouting combines. He also could take a linebacker like Mel Owens of Michigan of Ricky Jackson of Pittsburgh, but he'd rather not draft that spot so early.

The Redskins are hoping that one of the 19 teams picking before them in the first round will fail to select a player Beathard considers among the best in the nation. And what if there isn't a mistake?

"It's never failed to happen yet," Beathard said. "There is always someone there you don't expect. But even if the 19 guys we like the best are gone when we come up, we'll still get an excellent player who can step in and help us right away.

"I wish right now I knew, even in my own mind, who we would pick. Last year, I was positive we'd get Art Monk. But today I see no trend forming."

If the Redskins still had the ninth selection in the draft -- they swapped first-round picks with the Rams in exchange for choices in the second and fourth rounds -- Beathard almost certainly would have taken a defensive lineman or a quarterback.

But the two best quarterbacks in the draft, Neil Lomax and Rich Campbell, should be gone by the time the Redskins choose. Leonard Mitchell and Keith Gary, the leading defensive linemen who may be available, both are probably too risky for a rebuilding club like the Redskins to use their top pick on. Mitchell has a questionable attitude, while Gary has a history of injuries that forces him to miss too many college games.

Without a top-notch defensive lineman available, Washington would like to take an offensive lineman as soon as possible.

May (6 feet 5, 280) won the Outland Trophy over teammate Hugh Green. There have been questions about his aggressiveness but he comes from a pro-style attack that should make his transition to the NFL much easier. Holloway (6-6, 265), who attended Churchill High, still needs technique work, but that is a challenge Line Coach Joe Bugel would love, Richards (6-5, 255) also can play guard, which gives him the versatility the Redskins could use to fix up their aging offensive line. But he is rated a notch below the other two.

McMillan (6-0, 225) could make Washington fans finally forget about John Riggins. He should be among the top 10 players chosen, but he also could get lost in the maze of linebackers, quarterbacks, defensive backs and running backs who will be snatched up quickly. Overstreet (5-11, 198) was used primarily as a blocking back at Oklahoma, so who knows how good he could be? But early morning trades could make him available, too.

"I think we'll come out of the draft with players who could meet all of our needs," Beathard said. Besides a linebacker, Washington likely will go after a wide receiver, a center, a defensive lineman and a running back as soon as possible, depending on what happens in the first round. The Redskins also would not pass up a quarterback in the middle rounds.