USC defensive tackle only player taken

Updated: July 14, 2005, 5:24 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Miami Dolphins selected USC defensive tackle Manuel Wright in the fifth round of the NFL supplemental draft Thursday.

Wright, 22, was considered a potential first-round choice in 2007 had he stayed in USC. He was hoping to go in the first or second round. A disappointing workout Friday at which he weighed 329 pounds didn't help his case.

"We believe we have gotten great value from our supplemental pick by adding a player of Manuel's talent to our roster at the critical position of defensive line,"Dolphins coach Nick Saban said.

Wright left USC even though he had two years of eligibility because he wasn't sure if he could stay eligible.

"Based on Manny's performance in the classroom, we've been prepared for this for a while," Trojans coach Pete Carroll said when Wright declared for the draft.

Despite the workout, Wright is considered an interesting prospect. He has a good first step similar to Cortez Kennedy. At 6-feet-5, 329 pounds, Wright can dominate a game. He was almost unblockable in a game against Oklahoma last season for the Trojans.

As a sophomore last season, Wright backed up Shaun Cody and Mike Patterson. Patterson was taken by Philadelphia late in the first round of the regular draft last April, and Cody went early in the second to Detroit. Playing in 11 games, two of them starts, Wright had 23 tackles, including six for a loss, and recovered two fumbles.

The Dolphins believe they got a steal in Wright.

"I'm glad to have been picked by the Dolphins and I'm looking forward to starting my professional career in Miami," Wright said. "I appreciate the confidence they showed by taking me."

Wright was taken because of need. The Miami defensive line is aging and has injury questions.

"I don't think the difficulty is evaluating him as a football player," new coach Nick Saban said last month.

"I think the evaluation is, he played behind two really good players that were both drafted, and to find out if he has the right stuff to be a consistent performer -- which is questioned sometimes when a guy hasn't played as much and he's a young player coming out. But that's all part of the evaluation as well."

Eight other players, including former Clemson wide receiver Roscoe Crosby, were eligible to be taken in the supplemental draft, but only Wright was selected.

Information from ESPN.com senior NFL writer John Clayton and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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