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Leftover Draft Story

Yesterday was one of those days in this business where you go in with a plan, write one story, continue your reporting all day and by 8 pm you are completely re-writting everything due to what you have heard.

So the first story I did never saw the light of day and ended up spiked, as we say in the biz. But while I am swamped trying to keep up with the Briggs thing all other draft-related issues, I thought I would post the original story I wrote for any draftniks who might be interested.

After sizing up Landry and Okoye earlier in the week, we had planned to look at DE in Friday's paper, as it is the biggest need position on the Skins in the eyes of many. So I did a story to that end, about some of the trepidation involved in taking even Adams or Anderson that high. The Skins feel it would be a stretch to take any DE at 6, part of the reason they are so into trading up (for CJ) or down (for Briggs or additional picks).

Anyway, some of you might still want to see the info, so I figure what the heck.

Will post more on Briggs or other developments as I get the info. Could be nothing gets done until the Skins are on the clock, but either way it's going to be a long day and night for me. Hell, it's going to be a long weekend.

Anywho, here's the story (warning, this will be a longer thread as I am posting the entire story):

Twenty-four years have passed since the Washington Redskins last unearthed a dominant defensive end in the NFL draft (Charles Mann), and the need for a young pass-rushing dervish has never been greater. Coming off a season in which the club set an all-time record for turnover futility and registered a paltry 19 total sacks one might expect them to invest the sixth overall pick on an end, but even the top rated ends in this draft have caveats attached and the Redskins are among a group of teams hesitant to get burned.

Some believe that when the Redskins' first pick comes up there will not have been a defensive player of any sort drafted yet, and while there could be a few potential gems in the group of ends, and surely enough natural talent to pique scouts' interests, bust warnings abound as well. Arkansas end Jamaal Anderson is viewed by many within Redskins Park as the best of the group, according to sources, with Clemson's Gaines Adams second, but the thought among Washington officials and many others around the league is that it might be wiser to trade down if at all possible and select from a solid group of ends who should still be available.

The Redskins have positive reports on several ends who project outside the top 10 picks, sources said, led by Nebraska's Adam Carriker, who the team has identified as a premium value pick should they be able to trade down from the sixth selection. While the upside on ends like Carriker and Jarvis Moss (Florida) is not as high, they are seen as safer alternatives to some clubs who have shown more consistency and in many cases, better effort, than some of the more gifted alternatives. Defensive line coach Greg Blache left Carriker's workout in Nebraska quite impressed, according to sources, and the player's versatility, mean streak and production in college have made him a viable candidate to go somewhere in the 11-17 range, NFL sources said.

Adams is generally expected to be the first end off the board - Detroit, with the second overall pick, has very strong reports on him with Coach Rod Marinelle particularly intrigued - but for every scout impressed by his speed and sack prowess, others believe his struggles to play against the run, his lack of size (particularly in his neck and upper body) and questions about his desire make them weary. Some at Redskins Park believe Adams will amount a third-down specialist as a pro, unable to contribute much on other downs and non-passing situations, although sources said assistant head coach Gregg Williams has been more positive about him during personnel meetings.

Regardless, it would be surprising if the Redskins took Adams (6-foot-5, 260 pounds), especially with the sixth pick, given their overall concerns. Adams was inconsistent in college, did not impress during interviews with some teams. "There are some real issues there," said a high-ranking college scout from another NFL team. "He might end up as a really gifted pass rusher, but there's no guarantees and I am not sure he's a good fit for some systems. And if you try to move him around, is he smart enough to play outside linebacker? I'm not sure."

Anderson has the potential to be a "freak of nature" type pass rusher, a player who came into college as a wide receiver - with good speed- and played the last two seasons at end. He posted 13 ½ sacks last season, and at 6-foot-6, 280 pounds, has drawn comparisons to Michael Strahan and Julius Peppers by some for his size and ability. But he was a starter for only one full season, also suffered from inconsistency and, although exuding class, manners and good character, has slipped on many draft boards.

"He could be a monster," one college scouting director said, "but he might also have bust written all over him. To me it's 50-50. He's a really nice kid, but we don't see him having that edge you need. I'd be worried about him in the trenches. He's been sporadic in college and we question his toughness a little bit."

Sources said that Anderson, who wowed some at his interviews, even admitted that the nasty edge is something he must develop and he is truly working on it. But the Skins and other teams would worry that it may not be something you can really develop, and one NFL scout said beyond Peter Boulware he could not remember too many impact defensive ends who were not mean and rough in the trenches.

Despite that, Anderson, whose father Glenn is deaf and was a candidate for the presidency of Gallaudet, was clearly a force in what many consider the best conference in college football, he will be just 21 at the start of the season and on a team as pass-rush hungry as Washington might make an immediate impact even if just as a situational player at first. Assessing the future of ends is tricky - there was considerable debate over how well soon-to-be superstar Dwight Freeney would fare in the NFL when he left Syracuse - and Anderson could end lingering through the middle of the first round.

Carriker was originally slated to go in later in the first round as well, but scouts from several organizations said his strong work at his workout, his meetings with teams and the quality of his play in college have helped his stock. He has drawn strong feedback from San Francisco (11th overall) St. Louis (13), teams like Denver might trade up to get him and sources said that if the Redskins traded down below 15 to get him they would likely lose out as Green Bay (16) and Jacksonville (17) have him rated as high as the second-best end available.

Carriker (6-foot-6, 292 pounds) could play tackle and perhaps outside linebacker as well, and while not spectacular in his play, has a steady level of production and should be able to contribute long-term. He lacks panache and more of a straight ahead rusher who relies on power and strength - which is why some teams see him more as a tackle in the NFL - but his versatility and tenacity are assets the Redskins prize.

"We love him," said a top college scout whose team is not in the market for an end but who has watched Carriker repeatedly. "If you watch the film you can see he's a player, and he's somebody who you want to play with in the trenches. If you put him in a phone booth with Anderson or Adams and told me only one is coming out, I'd be willing to bet you anything - I'd bet my daughter - on Carriker coming out of there. If we were in a position to get that kid, we'd be trying to do it."

By Jason La Canfora  |  April 27, 2007; 12:09 PM ET
 
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