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Gibbs' Focus Shifts to NFL Draft

With last weekend's mini-camp over and head coach Joe Gibbs returning from the NFL meetings in Palm Beach, Fla., the focus at Redskins Park is quickly returning to acquiring talent in the NFL Draft, scheduled for April 24-25.

The Redskins hold the fifth overall pick in the first round, a valuable slot in any year. Washington should obtain a certifiable franchise player at any position or trade down and acquire multiple picks later in the draft.

During the three-day mini-camp held March 26-28, Gibbs said he wanted to get a feel on the team's needs before making any decisions about who to select with the fifth overall pick.

"When all the coaches get together to discuss what we thought of each player, we'll have a feel on how this team is," Gibbs said. "Maybe we have some depth here or maybe we don't--we'll go through all of that and it'llhelp shape our future decisions.

"I think the mini-camp was important and it will affect our thinking going into the draft. For me, I may have had an idea coming into camp and now I may have changed a little bit."

Gibbs, who serves as team president along with his head coaching duties, said personnel officials have about six or seven players they are focusing on with the fifth overall pick. Trading out of the spot and acquiring more picks later in the draft is an option under consideration, Gibbs added.

Asked if there is a particular position he would place a higher priority on at No. 5, Gibbs said: "I don't think that's the case if you think you have the right player there. I would say in this draft, it looks like it's going to be close with some players.

Positions such as defensive line, safety and tight end are most often mentioned as need areas for the team. Defensive tackle Tommie Harris (Oklahoma), safety Sean Taylor (Miami, Fla.) and tight end Kellen Winslow, Jr. (Miami, Fla.) are regarded as the top players at their positions.

The Redskins also have picks in the fifth round (139th overall) and sixth round (180th overall). The team was not granted any compensatory picks.

The sixth-round pick comes as a result of this week's trade with Chicago; the Redskins sent fullback Bryan Johnson to the Bears in exchange for the draft pick.

Whomever the Redskins draft, Gibbs and vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato will place a greater emphasis on character and football smarts than talent--although the latter certainly will factor into the equation.

"Character comes first," Gibbs explained. "If you can't pass the character test, then I think you have a real problem. Then I think you go to football smarts. Then you go to talent. Those first two--we've learned big lessons in the past.

"But I think you start with what kind of person he is. It's best to go all the way back through his career--junior high if possible--and talk to the coaches and trainers and teachers. You try to see over a long period of time if he was the right kind of person and if he was productive over a long period of time."

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