The Washington Redskins' annual predraft news conference is an exercise in saying a lot without saying anything, so it helps to be entertaining.
"We're going to do our best job not to lie to anybody today," general manager Bruce Allen told the gathering Tuesday. "If we mislead 31 other teams, then it's successful."
The line produced a huge laugh because it was a zinger aimed — intentionally or not — at dismissed coach Mike Shanahan, who infamously said during last year's 3-13 season: "What I'm trying to do is be as honest as I can, and I don't normally do that."
Allen, of course, didn't declare the Redskins' plans for the draft, but he did drop a few hints. Washington has only six picks, starting with the second selection of the second round, and Allen said "in theory" he would prefer to trade down and collect more picks, depending on how the board shakes out.
"If we have a player that has a first-round grade that falls to us, it'll make us less likely to trade out of there," Allen said.
Allen added that it's unlikely he will trade up into the first round.
Perhaps the GM's most interesting remark reflected his confidence in the players he already has. The Redskins did add some notable free agents — three-time Pro Bowl receiver DeSean Jackson tops the list — but they are coming off a last place season and are starting over coach-wise after replacing Shanahan with Jay Gruden.
"We've been active in free agency, so we feel there's no gaping holes on the roster," Allen said.
Still, there's little debate that the Redskins could use some more help along the offensive line, at linebacker and safety, and perhaps need to pick a solid pass-rushing defensive lineman. Allen said he'll stick with the standard NFL philosophy of taking the best player available regardless of position, but there's some leeway: If two or more players are rated the same, then position of need is often the tiebreaker.
The Redskins lack a first-round pick because it was one of three they dealt to the St. Louis Rams two years ago as part of the package that allowed them to move into place to take Robert Griffin III. While it could be years before the final verdict on the trade is rendered, Allen feels it was worth it because he doesn't have to worry about the most important position on the team.
"The fact that we don't have a first-round draft choice is because we have a quarterback," Allen said.
Making his debut behind the microphone was director of player personnel Scott Campbell. Allen gave Campbell a more visible role in draft preparations following the ouster of Shanahan, who had final say in all player selections.
"I think it inspires the scouts," Campbell said of the new front office setup. "It's exactly what you want, to be involved in the process."
Campbell has worked for the Redskins for 13 years in various scouting-related roles. His day-to-day job hasn't changed that much — except that he's now more in the public eye as the face of the draft.
"I'm not real comfortable with that, and it's really not my style," he said. "I'm really a behind-the-scenes worker."
Added Allen: "He refused to wear makeup today."
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