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Redskins Hope to Dig Up Late-Round Gems

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Pick six is the Redskins' primary focus this draft weekend, but what about the team's four second-day picks?

With a fifth-rounder, two sixth-rounders and a seventh-rounder, head coach Joe Gibbs said he hopes to find several players who can develop into starters and solid contributors.

During a pre-draft media briefing this week, Gibbs pointed to defensive tackles Anthony Montgomery and Kedric Golston as a pair of 2006 draft picks who are starting to emerge.

Montgomery was a fifth-round pick and Golston was the second of two sixth-rounders.

"Those are two guys who we think are going to make a big impact on our football team," Gibbs said. "They came in the draft and they came late. So we would love to see our four late picks [in 2007]--if we could get two of them to turn out like Anthony and Kedric, that's what you're looking for."

Given the team's dearth of picks in the early rounds, Gibbs and the personnel staff have put an emphasis on finding late-round gems.

"We know we are going to be making some key picks down below," Gibbs said. "Every year there are going to be some stars picked down there. It happened last year. It is going to happen. So we try to be real careful.

"We told our scouts in advance to do a real good job at all of the schools and to keep an eye out for someone that they thought would fall into that category. We put a special emphasis there."

Gone are the days when the NFL Draft consists of 20 rounds. So the Redskins won't have a chance to find a Chris Hanburger, drafted in the 18th round in 1965. Hanburger, of course, went on to become one of the greatest linebackers in franchise history.

Perhaps the Redskins could find a Rock Cartwright, who was drafted in the seventh round in 2002. In five NFL seasons, Cartwright has developed into a valuable special teams player. Last year, he set a franchise record for most kickoff return yardage in a season, with 1,541 yards for a 24.1-yard average.

This year, the Redskins' needs include left guard, defensive end and defensive tackle.

If the team does not address those positions early in the draft, then there should be some quality talent on the board in later rounds, according to vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato.

"The [talent] that you usually you find on the second day are defensive linemen and offensive linemen," Cerrato said. "They tend to go early [in the draft], and then they don't go for a while, and then you find them again late."

Teams also use late rounds to draft players who may not be among the elite at their position, but have strong measurables and great upside.

Said Cerrato: "Players who go late are guys who either have the kind of [size] you're looking for, or have great speed, and you're willing to take a chance on them because they have the characteristics for the position."

Once the draft ends on Sunday evening, the Redskins will once again be aggressive in signing undrafted rookie free agents. Last year, the Redskins were able to sign several undrafted prospects who were coveted around the league.

Personnel officials have already identified a pool of prospects that could go undrafted, Cerrato said.

"We'll start recruiting them the first day," he said.

The Redskins will host a Rookie Camp in the week following the draft. The team's draft picks and undrafted rookies will be in attendance, as well as 60-70 undrafted prospects trying out for the team.

"We tell the agents that if [the tryout players] are better than the free agents that we sign, then we will replace them," Cerrato said. "I think last year we had 75 or 80 guys here and we found four guys that stayed on the practice squad. That is a way to find players.

"Also, what it does is create a pool for you if someone gets hurt during OTAs or training camp. They have three days in the system and can fit in right away. That is why we do it and it gives us an advantage with strength in numbers."

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