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Dolphins glad to give up picks to get Williams

Miami selects center Seth McKinney in the third round after trading early picks.

© St. Petersburg Times
published April 21, 2002

DAVIE -- It was a quiet draft day for the Dolphins, as expected. Very quiet, and very long.

The silence comes after Miami made plenty of noise this spring when coach Dave Wannstedt traded picks for the Saints' Ricky Williams, the Dolphins' first bonafide star running back since Delvin Williams rushed for 1,258 yards in 1978.

Miami gave up its first-round pick (25th overall) this season, a conditional No. 3 next season that could increase to a second-rounder if Williams rushes for 1,200 yards or a first if he gets 1,500, and swapped positions in the fourth round this season.

Miami's only selection was Texas A&M center Seth McKinney in the third round, 90th overall, at 10:23 p.m.

Miami had been rebuffed in its attempt to sign free-agent center Olin Kruetz, who stayed with the Bears, so it was clear the team was looking for an upgrade over veteran Tim Ruddy. If Kruetz had signed with Miami, Ruddy was to be moved to guard.

McKinney (6 feet 3, 300 pounds) started 50 consecutive games at center for the Aggies and was a Verizon Academic All-America selection. His older brother, Steve, is an offensive lineman for the Colts.

It was the first time in franchise history Miami did not have a pick in either the first or second rounds.

"We were hopeful that a guy would be there that we felt real good about," Wannstedt said. "And we're excited about getting Seth. He's a guy we had legitimate third-round grades on from a standpoint of him being a value pick for us ... We feel when you look at our offensive line, he did play some guard in the Senior Bowl so he can play center and guard."

McKinney said: "This is a dream come true. Miami has so much to offer. I'm extremely excited."

But it was the acquisition of Williams, who rushed for 3,129 yards and 16 touchdowns in three seasons with the Saints, that will determine the value of this year's draft.

"I think what this trade does for our team is pretty obvious," Wannstedt said. "You have to look at how this impacted our draft this year, what are we giving up and how does it affect bringing other players in? Well, one, we didn't have to trade away any of our players. If you look at our first three picks ... you're talking about getting Ricky Williams."

Williams was so coveted as the Heisman Trophy winner and all-time NCAA rushing leader coming out of Texas in 1999, Saints coach Mike Ditka traded his whole draft (eight picks) to move up and pick him. It cost Ditka and GM Bill Kuharich their jobs, as Williams struggled with injuries his rookie year and the Saints went 3-13.

The Dolphins gave up far less to boost the running game.

"I know from Ricky's standpoint he never wants to come off the field," Wannstedt said. "That's the type of player he is."

Quarterback Jay Fiedler said he's looking forward to having Williams in the backfield.

"When you bring in a Ricky Williams, you're bringing in a guy who's proven himself over the past three years to be a solid A-list running back in this league," Fiedler said.

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