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Four Storylines to Follow On Draft Day '08


Want draft day drama? You've come to the right place.

For the Redskins on draft day, anything can happen.

Especially this year. With the Redskins holding the 21st pick in the NFL Draft, there are so many variables it's hard for executive vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato to get a read on who will be available.

"It was easier when we were picking at six because there were only so many prospects that could go in front of you," Cerrato said. "At 21, you have to sit back and try to figure out what's going on. It seems like it changes all the time on who may be there--or may not be there."

That could result in all sorts of trade options, of course.

Get ready for another wild ride.

Here are four storylines to keep an eye on as Saturday's first round unfolds.

-- Who Will Fall? And Will It Benefit the Redskins?

Last year, Brady Quinn went down in NFL Draft history as a top prospect who waited, and waited, and waited some more as teams bypassed him in the draft.

Quinn fell all the way to No. 22. That provided an opportunity for the Cleveland Browns to trade back into the first round to obtain a potential franchise quarterback.

Now the team that held the No. 22 pick last year--the Dallas Cowboys--is sitting pretty this year with two first-round draft picks.

Who is this year's Quinn? (Or Aaron Rodgers, the top-rated quarterback from Cal who slid to the 24th pick in 2005?)

Maybe it will be Boston College's Matt Ryan, widely regarded as the top quarterback in this year's draft but not thought to be an elite-level QB yet.

Ryan could go as high as No. 3 to the Atlanta Falcons. He could go No. 5 to the Kansas City Chiefs. He could go No. 8 to the Baltimore Ravens.

Or he could take a big fall.

Then the Chiefs would have a second chance to draft Ryan at No. 17. But if they pass on him again, there's not another team in the rest of the first round that needs a quarterback.

That's where the Redskins could come in.

If a team like the Falcons wants to trade up to get another shot at drafting Ryan, they could give the Redskins a call. Vinny Cerrato has made it known that the team is open for business with the 21st overall pick.

"Usually the teams that are looking for a quarterback may want to come up," Cerrato said. "So we've talked to all of those teams about possibly moving up."

Any other top prospects who could face a draft day freefall?

Keep an eye on Tennessee State cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who could go as high as seven to New England but could also fall to the late first round. Some team may want to move up and grab him if he starts to slide.

Virginia offensive lineman Branden Albert has been rising up draft boards in recent weeks, so he could also be a target for several teams in the late first round.

-- Who's the First Wide Receiver Drafted?

There's no Calvin Johnson this year. Instead, there are plenty of wide receivers projected to go late in the first round or in he second round.

No team in the top 10 is slated to draft a wide receiver, although that could change should the Cincinnati Bengals, at No. 9, trade the mercurial Chad Johnson.

Some mock drafts have the Buffalo Bills selecting a wide receiver at No. 11.'s Vic Carucci has Michigan State's Devin Thomas going to the Bills as the top receiver of the draft.

The Chicago Bears could opt for a wide receiver at No. 14, even with the signing of Brandon Lloyd this offseason, but they have needs at running back, offensive line and maybe even quarterback.

If the Bills and Bears pass on a wide receiver, then it's likely the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 19 or the Redskins at No. 21 will have the first opportunity to draft a receiver. The Eagles are thought to be pursuing offensive linemen, while the Redskins could opt for a defensive lineman.

It would be surprising if the Dallas Cowboys, who have a pair of first-round picks at No. 22 and 28, would pass on a wide receiver.

What does it all mean for the Redskins?

There's a good chance that a quality wide receiver, such as Oklahoma's Malcolm Kelly, Indiana's James Hardy, Texas's Limas Sweed or Kansas State's Jordy Nelson, could be available in the second round.

-- Will a Big-Name Wide Receiver Be Traded?

Last year, the New England Patriots stunned everyone by trading for wide receiver Randy Moss on draft weekend.

This year, any number of star wide receivers could be available.

Or not.

The Redskins aren't commenting on reports they have made overtures to the Cincinnati Bengals for Chad Johnson. The reports suggest the Redskins offered their first-round draft pick this year and a conditional third-rounder next year.

Clearly, Johnson is unhappy in Cincinnati. Based on his comments this offseason, he wants to move on. He has even threatened to not play in 2008 if he remains a Bengal.

Head coach Marvin Lewis, the former Redskins defensive coordinator, has emphasized the team will not trade Johnson.

So there's a stalemate for now...until some team makes the Bengals a trade offer they cannot refuse.

In recent days, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Anquan Boldin reportedly requested a trade.

Detroit Lions wide receiver Roy Williams is entering the final year of his contract, so it's possible the Lions would want to get something for him.

The Philadelphia Eagles have been rumored to be pursuing Boldin and Williams. The Dallas Cowboys are in the mix, too.

So far, the Cardinals and Lions have said no.

If they say yes, you can bet the Redskins will be in the fray, too.

-- Will the Redskins Draft a Defensive End?

There's no denying that defensive end is a position the Redskins have long neglected in the draft.

Since 1997, the Redskins have drafted two defensive ends: first-rounder Kenard Lang in 1997 and seventh-rounder Greg Scott in 2002.

The Redskins filled defensive end in free agency, to varying degrees of success. Bruce Smith and Marco Coleman were a solid duo early this decade, and Renaldo Wynn was steady--but not spectacular--in five seasons with the club. Regan Upshaw never developed into a regular contributor.

Current starters Phillip Daniels and Andre Carter are also free agent pickups.

Carter is coming off a 10.5-sack season and is in his prime at age 29. Daniels is 35 years old and winding down a 12-year career.

It appears the Redskins are ready to find a replacement to groom behind Daniels, who has 5.5 sacks the last two years.

Barring a trade to the top of the draft, the Redskins have virtually no shot at getting the top defensive end prize: Virginia's Chris Long.

Defensive ends that could be available at No. 21 include Clemson's Phillip Merling, Miami's Calais Campbell and USC's Lawrence Jackson.

The Redskins were expected to be in attendance at Merling's workout at Clemson on Thursday afternoon.

Of course, this week's trade between the Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings has complicated matters.

The Chiefs sent 2007 sack leader Jared Allen to the Vikings for the No. 17 pick in the draft. It's entirely possible the Chiefs could draft Allen's replacement at that pick--thus removing a top defensive end from the Redskins' draft board.

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