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Decisions Looming As Draft Day Nears

For NFL coaches, player personnel officials and even die-hard fans who follow the NFL Draft, it's an age-old question: Choose the best player available or pursue players at positions of need?

With two first-round picks, one at No. 9 and the other at No. 25, the Redskins find themselves in a position in which both strategies come into play.

Head coach Joe Gibbs has cited wide receiver and cornerback as need positions this offseason. Both positions have solid depth near the top of the draft board, with USC's Mike Williams and Michigan's Braylon Edwards among the elite receivers and Miami's Antrel Rolle, West Virginia's Adam "Pac-Man" Jones and Auburn's Carlos Rogers among the top cornerbacks.

Barring a trade, it's expected that the Redskins will address either cornerback or wide receiver at No. 9. Williams, Jones, Rogers and Rolle all visited Redskins Park in the last few weeks.

The decision process may be somewhat murky when the Redskins select at No. 25. Vinny Cerrato, vice president of football operations, said the team isn't targeting specific players with their second first-round pick, acquired on Tuesday in a trade with the Denver Broncos.

"We'll have an idea who should be available at the 25th pick and whether that player fills a need, but that's hard to do because there are so many things that could happen before that pick," Cerrato said. "If not, we'll look to get the best athlete there or use the option of trading back.

"Draft day has become fairly easy because you have been through everything and there may be a surprise or two, but not something that you really haven't been through."

In navigating whether to select the best player available versus drafting for need, the key is to stay flexible, Gibbs said.

"There will be situations, which happen to you sometimes, when you have the board stacked and all of a sudden you get down to a pick and you have somebody rated a whole lot higher than anyone else sitting there," Gibbs said. "That is where your decision process might change, even though you might have real depth at that spot."

Gibbs said the flexibility is needed more in later rounds.

"I have seen it happen when you get down to the second round," he explained. "You may have somebody rated way up in the first that has not been taken yet. And that's a player you can't pass up because of the value, even though you might be deep at that position."

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