Winslow or Taylor for Redskins?

Updated: April 20, 2004, 6:02 PM ET
ESPN

ASHBURN, Va. -- Think Kellen Winslow is a sure thing? Funny enough, in a way he reminds coach Joe Gibbs of Desmond Howard, a sure thing that wasn't.

In his first draft in 12 years, Gibbs and the Washington Redskins appear to have two clear choices with the No. 5 overall pick: tight end Winslow and safety Sean Taylor.

Both are from Miami. Both are considered extremely skilled difference-makers. Both would fill needs in the Redskins lineup.

So, what's the tiebreaker that could make the difference when the Redskins are on the clock on Saturday? Winslow's agents are the Poston brothers, who are not only known for driving a tough bargain but are also currently involved in a dispute with the Redskins over linebacker LaVar Arrington's contract.

That's how Howard's name came to mind. Asked about Arrington's situation and how it could influence the first-round pick, Gibbs immediately recalled the receiver who was the No. 4 overall pick in 1992, Gibbs' last year during his first stint as coach.

"I'd say that was the biggest problem I was involved in when I was here the first go-round," Gibbs said. "We moved up and took a player and he didn't sign. It was a nightmare."

Howard held out for more than a month and was a bust with the Redskins, gaining success only on special teams later in his career with Green Bay. He was the only significant first-round draft pick holdout during Gibbs' tenure, and the thought of another one doesn't sit well.

"Is that in my mind? Yes. That's a real problem. To run the risk of losing your rookie year, and you're paying him the most money," Gibbs said. "I kind of go off past experiences, and I had a bad one. That kind of stuck in my mind. I'd prefer not to repeat that."

Read the tea leaves, and it leads to the conclusion that the Redskins will pass on Winslow and choose Taylor -- unless they get an acceptable offer to trade down.

Then again, the days leading up to the draft are full of red herrings, so Gibbs could be putting up a nice diversion even as he is secretly drawing up pass routes for Winslow.

Either way, Gibbs can give the pick all his attention Saturday. His only other duty for the day will be to travel to the stadium and speak to the tens of thousands of fans who have signed up to attend the team's draft party. The Redskins have done so much wheeling and dealing the past couple of years that they have only two other picks in the entire draft -- in Sunday's fifth and sixth rounds.

Gibbs' rehiring brings yet another new dynamic to the Redskins war room after two years of coach Steve Spurrier.

Spurrier was more interested in coaching and less interested in the personnel business, while Gibbs has been an involved part of a meticulous process involving scouts, assistant coaches, director of player personnel Vinny Cerrato and owner Dan Snyder. Snyder makes the final call if there's not a consensus choice.

After a dozen years away, Gibbs found himself energized for all the meetings, film sessions and travel involved in preparing for the draft. That wasn't the case in the old days.

"This is different for me this year," Gibbs said. "Normally, after the season, I'm usually shot and I don't want to travel."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index