Redskins’ Draft Picks
ASHBURN, Va. (AP) _ After sitting out the first round, the Washington Redskins on Saturday selected Oklahoma tight end Stephen Alexander in the second round of the NFL draft.
The last team to get started in the draft, the Redskins tried in vain to trade up to the end of the first round, but general manager Charley Casserly said no teams were willing to make a deal.
The Redskins earlier had traded their first- and third-round picks to Cincinnati for defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson.
A plan to get back into the first round by dealing franchise player Sean Gilbert to Carolina fell through. The Panthers now plan to sign Gilbert next week and surrender to Washington their first-round picks in both 1999 and 2000.
While the Redskins need to address depth problems on their offensive line, they decided to take Alexander with the 17th pick of the second round (the 48th pick overall) because they felt he was the best value remaining.
``We wanted to take the best player up there on the board,″ Caserrly said. ``We think Alexander can be an exceptional tight end. He’s got size, he’s got speed.″
The 6-foot-4, 246-pound Alexander caught 94 passes for 1,468 yards in his final three seasons at Oklahoma.
``He’s kind of a throwback player _ a small-town Oklahoma kid,″ said Redskins tight end coach Michael Pope.
Alexander, a former high school high jump champion, impressed the Redskins by running sub-par 4.5 40-yard dashes on an indoor track in personal workouts for the team.
The Redskins drafted Alexander, even though Washington tight end Jaime Asher led the team last season with 49 catches. Asher was named an alternate to the Pro Bowl, but there was some disappointment that he scored just one touchdown and averaged two yards less per catch (9.7) than he did in 1996.
Pope pointed out that Asher played on a knee that required surgery in the offseason.
``Jaime’s not going to give up that job, but I think the competition will be excellent,″ Pope said.
Alexander said that both the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Bucaneers contacted him about being drafted late in the first round.
``I heard that I could be drafted anywhere from the first to the third round,″ Alexander said. ``I was just keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for the best.″