|Redskins take a Landry, a Dallas, a Palmer and a Blades|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 29 April 2007 21:45|
In the NFL draft, the Washington Redskins picked a player named Landry and a player named Dallas.
They also selected Carson Palmer's brother and Bennie Blades' son. The Landry kid has a brother playing for the Baltimore Ravens. The guy named Dallas had a grandfather who raced hydroplanes.
It will take time to find out whether the draftees will make Washington any better, but at least they will have some entertaining stories to tell.
``It's an interesting play on these names we're going with,'' coach Joe Gibbs said as he went over the final list.
The Redskins welcomed first-round pick LaRon Landry to Redskins Park on Sunday and completed a defense-focused draft by taking linebackers Dallas Sartz from USC in the fifth round and H.B. Blades from Pittsburgh in the sixth. Texas-El Paso quarterback Jordan Palmer was a late sixth-round pick, and Michigan tight end Tyler Ecker was chosen in the seventh.
The strategy wasn't a surprise given that Washington's defense ranked 31st last season and set an NFL record for fewest takeaways (12) in a non-strike season and a franchise record for fewest sacks (19).
``We went to the playoffs two years ago, and that football team played rock-solid defense,'' Gibbs said. ``And we need to get back to that.''
As they have all offseason, the Redskins spent Sunday compensating for recent bad decisions. Free-agent middle linebacker London Fletcher wouldn't have been needed if Antonio Pierce hadn't been allowed to leave for the New York Giants two years ago, and cornerback Fred Smoot was welcomed back two years after he was allowed to leave for Minnesota.
On Saturday, the Redskins used the No. 6 overall pick on LSU safety Landry, the team's second attempt at filling the void left when Ryan Clark signed with Pittsburgh last year. Free agent Adam Archuleta was given the richest contract ever for a safety, but that signing was a bust and he has since been traded to Chicago.
Sunday was more of the same. Sartz and Blades are the fifth and sixth linebackers drafted by the Redskins over three seasons, a move considered necessary because three of the other four - Robert McCune, Jared Newberry and Kevin Simon - didn't pan out. The jury is still out on the fourth, 2006 second-round pick Rocky McIntosh.
Landry, of course, was the showpiece pick. Even though the need was bigger at defensive line, the Redskins felt Landry was the best defensive talent on the board. The question is whether he's the right fit to line up next to Sean Taylor, an erratic talent who plays better when he's alongside an experienced veteran who can make sure everyone's playing the right assignments.
Clark was that type of player; Archuleta was not. As for Landry, he in many ways is a carbon copy of Taylor - a young hard-hitting player who knows only one speed - full throttle. It won't be surprising if it takes a while before Landry works his way past Pierson Prioleau and into the starting lineup.
``How we work those guys around and what packages they'll be in - you're not quite sure how that's going to work,'' Gibbs said.
Landry was charming at his press conference, but his father stole the show. Frank Landry, who recently retired after 31 years as an electrician, now has two sons in the NFL: LaRon and Dawan, a fifth-round pick last year by the Ravens.
``They used to go at it every day,'' Frank Landry said. ``When they were 3 or 4 years old, they used to battle over small things, a video game or sneakers or a shirt. When they were about 4 or 5, I said 'If y'all are going to fight, y'all fight with some boxing gloves.'''
It's doubtful that Landry would have been chosen by legendary Redskins coach Allen, who hated the Dallas Cowboys with a passion and considered their coach, Tom Landry, his rival. As for Sartz, he'll face unending grief playing for the 'Skins with the first name Dallas.
``It was mentioned,'' Gibbs said with a laugh. ``Everybody looks at it and says, 'Oh my gosh, we're about to draft a Landry and a Dallas.'''
Sartz's father played safety at Oregon State, and his grandfather raced hydroplanes and was a Golden Gloves boxer at Washington State. Nice genes, to be sure, but he trails far behind Landry, Palmer and Blades in name recognition. Brothers Bennie, Brian and Al Blades all played at the University of Miami before going to the NFL, while H.B. Blades broke the tradition and went to Pitt.
``Just to make a name for myself, I just wanted to start at a new location,'' he said. ``Down in Florida, it's kind of hard to top what my dad and uncles did.''
Gibbs said the Redskins were never close to picking a defensive lineman, even though the current group had trouble rushing the passer and stopping the run. He said the additions at linebacker and in the secondary should lead to better coverage, allowing the line more time to get to the passer.
``What we went through last year,'' Gibbs said, ``a lot of it was the coverage.''