Phillip Merling, Jordy Nelson: Washington Redskins' One-Two Punch

Rich TandlerSenior Analyst IApril 25, 2008

For months I’ve been thinking that Washington Redskins would take a wide receiver with their first-round draft pick.

Ever since it became apparent that Brandon Lloyd was going to be a bust, it seemed to me to be the logical move to make. Vinny Cerrato has confirmed that a big wide receiver is a need on numerous occasions this offseason.

A number of mock drafters out there agree. Many of them have the Redskins selecting James Hardy or the favorite here, Limas Sweed, with their first-round pick.

I am starting to get a sense, however, that the Redskins are starting to move in another direction with their first-round pick.

Their first desire is to trade away the pick for an established wide receiver. Attempts to use it as part of a package to get Chad Johnson or Anquan Boldin were rebuffed, but indications are that they will keep trying.

Their second desire is to trade down to late in the first round or early in the second. But you have to find someone who wants to trade up, and the fact that multiple teams are talking about trading down to collect more top 100 picks make the Skins’ ability to do so problematic.

Since the chances are good that the Skins will be picked at No. 21, we’ll work with that scenario here.

After looking hard at Sweed, they will go with Clemson defensive end Phillip Merling. While he is more of a run stopper than the pass rushing end that would be ideal, he still would be a good fit.

“He’s a safe pick,” one scout was quoted as saying. He’s also a tough cookie who played through a hernia last year by taking (skip this if you’re squeamish) a needle to the groin before every game.

Safe picks don’t make for much good YouTube footage, but here he is in a 52-second silent clip: YouTube Video

The Redskins will address the wide receiver need in the second round. Malcolm Kelly of Oklahoma, who had a private workout with the Redskins yesterday, might be a target only if the Skins trade down somewhere into the top 10 of the second round.

The Redskins recently entertained a wide receiver who should be available when they pick in the second round. Jordy Nelson of Kansas State should be the selection there. You Tube Video

Nelson is not too tall, but he’s big enough (6' 2.5", 225). He’s not a real burner, but he’s fast enough (4.5 in the 40). In 2007 he caught 122 passes for over 1,600 yards with K-State's pass-happy offense, so he’s shown he can be productive enough.

Beyond that, the Redskins will look to add some depth on the offensive line with one or both of their third-round picks.

Just to toss out a few names, the might take center Mike Pollack of Arizona State (quick and agile but lacks power) or guard Jeremy Zuttah of Rutgers (great instincts and technique but at 6-3, 303 he’d have to hit the weight room).

Also, it wouldn’t shock me if they took their developmental, backup QB in the third. They need someone who will be able to move up to No. 2 as early as 2010.

Waiting until the fifth round or later might not be a prudent strategy under those circumstances.

If they do go QB in the third, John David Booty of USC and Josh Johnson of San Diego are possibilities

With their fifth, sixth, and three seventh-round picks the Redskins will be going after the best player available. If they don’t take a cornerback or safety earlier they might look to snag a project here.

However it unfolds, it should be interesting. Be sure to make my live blog part of your draft day web surfing. I’ll be monitoring coverage on TV on ESPN and NFL Network as well as radio coverage from Redskins Radio and Sirius NFL Radio.

At some point I’ll break out the webcam and use that medium to discuss what happens. The software I’ll be using is interactive so your comments are most welcome throughout. Just go to starting at about 4:00 p.m. on Saturday and all day Sunday.