The NFL draft is about answers that lead to still more questions. Such as: How come the Eagles are so dumb? Or: Why would a team already loaded with prime defensive beef buy a Refrigerator? Or the burning topic among Washingtonians: Who won the battle of minds between the Redskins and Cowboys?

The Redskins.

By a little bit?

By a knockout.

You should know that these judgments are more rash than usual, for I know as much about this year's lean crop of collegians as I do about the economy of Albania.

Still, when one team gets three starters with its first five picks and the other chooses six enormous question marks, the winner ain't too hard to determine.

With their first, fourth and fifth selections yesterday, the Redskins received: running back George Rogers, wide receiver Calvin Muhammad and center Rick Donnalley.

These are men who either have established considerable worth somewhere else (Rogers) or here (Muhammad and Donnalley were regulars when they got hurt last season). Like so much else in Washigton, the Redskins assumed a pay-later posture with the draft.

For what they did and did not do, the Cowboys were among the surprises yesterday in an annual exercise illegal and immoral everywhere but in sport.

(Imagine the National Symphony announcing "with the third pick we have taken a cellist from Juilliard . . . runs the scale in 2.3 seconds, great bow control, will add needed depth to our string section.")

Thoughtful observers of football flesh figured the Cowboys would pull a blockbuster deal for one of the few can't-miss draftees.

That has been their history. When they have required immediate and immense help, the Cowboys have conned teams into accepting marginal players for ultra picks who have become Too Tall Jones, Randy White and Tony Dorsett.

Having failed to make the playoffs for only the second time in 19 years, the Cowboys are close to desperate. They need offensive linemen, linebackers and wide receivers -- badly -- and have a fine quarterback (either Danny White or Gary Hogeboom) to barter.

With this in mind, the Cowboys yesterday did next to nothing, though their decision was not quite so blind and illogical as saying: "We'll take curtain No. 3."

Still, a team whose strengths include the defensive line stuck its neck out about 30 yards and chose . . . a defensive lineman. And one not universally admired, Kevin Brooks of Michigan.

But grabbing Herschel Walker with one of their fifth-round choices was a worthwhile move. He could be available about the time Tony Dorsett begins to slide.

The Redskins took their annual gamble. To switch positions with Atlanta in the second round, they surrendered next year's first-round choice and Joe Washington for Atlanta's second- and sixth-round picks next year.

Tory Nixon is who the Redskins coveted, he being the latest special cornerback from San Diego State, following in the tradition of Willie Buchanon, Joe Lavender, Nate Wright, Monte Jackson and Vernon Dean. The way NFL offenses throw these days, corners are like suntan lotion in the Sahara: you never have quite enough.

In Washington, the Redskins part with a gentleman who, in his prime, scurried into and out of danger as few others.

He could embarrass tacklers even more than John Riggins. Football players accept being overrun by someone larger and stronger, but sulk for days about grabbing for a Washington's legs and ending with nothing but grass.

Washington came to the Redskins as part of a second-round trade, in 1981, and left on the same path. Former Redskin assistant Dan Henning, now the Falcons head coach, is betting a sixth-round draft choice that Washington can yet dodge trouble on knees repaired by surgery.

Low-round picks can be important. In truth, Beathard -- so far -- has drafted players in the ninth round (Ken Coffey and Darryl Grant) who have made more of an impact than those taken on the second.

The draft is about the same as choosing wine or mates: Everyone has his own tastes. That is why the Eagles made Kevin Allen the ninth player selected when nearly every other team rated that offensive tackle no higher than the second round.

Also, a round of laughter is directed toward New Orleans. Most scouts cannot understand Bum Phillips keeping Earl Campbell instead of Rogers. Or at least not getting more from the Redskins.

And with the Redskins' pick in the first round yesterday, the Saints took a linebacker (Alvin Toles from Tennessee) who is undersized and played just three complete games last season before being hurt.

Curiosity, if not amazement, is directed toward Chicago and its first-round selection: William (Refrigerator) Perry. At 300-plus pounds, he is more a defensive line than a defensive lineman.

Neither Coach Mike Ditka nor his defensive coordinator, Buddy Ryan, has been overly enthused with such as Perry's frequently casual attitude or style.

Perhaps they can melt him into a useful Ice Box.

This year's Dan Marino may well be safety Jerry Gray of Texas, who also had a disappointing senior season but nevertheless is enormously gifted. He was waiting for the Rams on pick 21 in round one.

Houston and Minnesota are whispered to have taken overrated players (defensive end Ray Childress and linebacker Chris Doleman, respectively). The 49ers drafting wide receiver Jerry Rice suggests they believe Skeets Nehemiah has reached a relatively nonproductive peak.

At best, the draft is sophisticated guessing. Same as each play in each game. Except that with the draft it can take years, instead of moments, to see if those guesses are correct.