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Linebacker Depth: Sartz In 5th, Blades In 6th

The Redskins selected a pair of linebackers with their first two picks on Day 2 of the NFL Draft.

The team selected USC outside linebacker Dallas Sartz in the fifth round and Pittsburgh middle linebacker H.B. Blades with the first of two sixth-rounders on Sunday.

-- FIFTH ROUND: DALLAS SARTZ, LB

The Redskins drafted USC outside linebacker Dallas Sartz in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL Draft. Sartz was the 143rd overall selection.

"I couldn't be more happy to come to Washington and play for a great coach and a great program," Sartz said.

Sartz, 6-5 and 235 pounds, was a strong-side linebacker at USC. He also played weak-side linebacker and some safety, head coach Joe Gibbs said.

"We are picking up what we feel is a well-rounded player," Gibbs said. "We think he is smart enough and we think he can at least play both outside [linebacker] spots for us."

He played in 53 games the last five years and compiled 194 tackles, 22.5 tackles for a loss, 12.5 sacks, two interceptions and 16 pass break-ups, proving his versatility against the run and pass.

Sartz had his best season last year, recording 70 tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, seven sacks and five pass break-ups.

"I see my strengths as the ability to make plays, see plays develop and be a smart player out there," he said. "I think I have the ability to read the offense at the line of scrimmage. I feel I play the run pretty well and I cover pretty well."

Sartz said he hopes to "gain some weight and get a little bigger" in size to make an impact in the pros.

Sartz sustained a dislocated left shoulder injury in 2005 and sat out the team's final 11 games. He called the injury "100 percent" healed.

He hails from Granite Bay, Calif, which is near Sacramento. He starred at Granite Bay High School in football and basketball.

His father played safety at Oregon State and his grandfather (also named Dallas) was a Golden Gloves boxer at Washington State and a professional hydroplane racer.

"It definitely helped being around a competitive family like that," Sartz said. "It teaches you how to compete every day and how to go out on the field and go about business."

Of course, there is the issue of his first name.

Sartz said he is well aware of the Redskins-Cowboys rivalry, but he added: "Nothing I can do about changing my name."

-- SIXTH ROUND: H.B. BLADES, LB

The Redskins have drafted inside linebacker H.B. Blades of Pittsburgh with the first of the team's two sixth-round draft picks. Blades was the 179th overall selection in the draft.

Blades hails from a football family: his father Bennie was an All-Pro safety with the Detroit Lions and his uncles Brian and Al also played in the NFL.

Blades, 5-11 and 236 pounds, says he patterns himself after under-sized NFL middle linebackers London Fletcher and Zach Thomas. He'll have the chance to learn under Fletcher, who signed with the Redskins as a free agent this offseason.

"That gives me a lot of encouragement," Blades said. "I can go in and they aren't going to see my height as an issue as long as I go in, make plays and bust my tail off. That's all you can ask for."

Added Joe Gibbs: "[Blades] reminds me a little bit of London mainly because of his height. He is extremely productive and is someone we feel can fit in with us. He will give us some added depth."

Blades was a four-year starter at Pitt, playing in 48 games and recording 433 tackles, 29 tackles for a loss, four sacks. six interceptions and 15 pass break-ups.

He had his best season as a senior, recording a team-high 147 tackles, one sack, two interceptions amd 10.5 tackles for a loss. His tackles total was fourth-best in the nation.

After his senior season, Blades was named first-team All-American and All-Big East. He was also a semi-finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award and Butkus Award.

"I think I bring great instincts to the defense, a nose for the ball, making plays and tackling hard," he said.

Blades, whose full name is Horatio Benedict Blades, hails from Plantation, Fla. His father and uncle starred at the University of Miami, but Blades wanted to head north to Pitt to free himself from the expectations that would have been on him as a Hurricane.

"I wanted to make a name for myself," he said. "I wanted a brand new start in a new location."

That's what Blades will get as he embarks on his NFL career, too.

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