ASHBURN, Va. -- Let's hear it for the Longview Lobos, talent pipeline to the Washington Redskins.
Nestled in Dallas Cowboys territory in east Texas, Longview High School had a player drafted by the Redskins for the third consecutive year. The biggest of the three came Thursday night, when Oklahoma tackle Trent Williams became the first high-round offensive lineman selected by Washington in a decade.
"They might have to hang a couple of Redskins flags across the city of Longview," Williams said with a laugh.
Williams joins wide receiver Malcolm Kelly (2008, second round) and linebacker Robert Henson (2009, sixth round) as Longview products on the Redskins' roster. Williams even stayed with Kelly for a couple of days during a pre-draft visit to Washington.
"He gave me advice all through college," Williams said. "I was like a sponge, soaking everything up."
The announcement of Williams' name by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spurned an instant mystery. Goodell introduced the pick as Trent "Silverback" Williams. What was that all about?
"It's just a little thing my teammates kind of went with on the field," Williams said. "Beast-like, silverback is one of the most strongest beasts. I was joking around with Mr. Goodell and told him to call me that, and he actually did it."
Williams said he has had the nickname for a couple of years. The Redskins wouldn't mind calling Williams something else -- a cornerstone as they rebuild a line beset by injuries and lack of depth in recent seasons.
The first player drafted under the new Redskins regime of coach Mike Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen, Williams is expected to take over at left tackle, protecting the blind side of new starting quarterback Donovan McNabb. Last year's quarterback, Jason Campbell, was sacked 43 times, the rushing attack ranked 27th and the 4-12 record was the franchise's worst since 1994.
The Redskins generally ignored the offensive line in drafts under ousted front-office chief Vinny Cerrato, preferring instead to focus on flashier impact players. The result wasn't pretty: The starting line became older and injury-prone, and none of the backups last season had played a single NFL snap in the previous campaign.
Once they were on the clock, the Redskins had a choice of stud tackles: Williams or Oklahoma State's Russell Okung. Williams' strength as an agile run blocker made him a solid choice for the zone-blocking scheme being installed by new Washinton offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, although Williams played mostly right tackle at Oklahoma before moving to the left side during his senior year.
The last offensive lineman drafted in the first or second round by the Redskins was left tackle Chris Samuels, the No. 3 overall selection in 2000. Samuels went to six Pro Bowls and retired after suffering a neck injury early last year. He is the Redskins' representative at Radio City Music Hall for this week's draft and met with Williams after the selection was made.
"He told me he's going to do everything in his power to help me become a good pro tackle, and that coming from him, he's one of the best to ever do it. I told him I was ready," Williams said. "It's some huge shoes to fill."
Okung was chosen two picks later by the Seattle Seahawks.
The Redskins held an NFL-low four picks entering the draft, having dealt the rest of their allotment in three separate trades. They were hoping to stockpile more picks, possibly by trading Campbell or disgruntled defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth.
Notably, Williams said he didn't meet with Dan Snyder during his Washington trip, another sign that the Redskins' owner has relinquished control of the roster to Shanahan and Allen. Dinners with Snyder were a standard feature of big-name player visits in past years.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press