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Dolphins aren't locked in

"We're not one player away from being a Super Bowl team,'' coach Dave Wannstedt said.

By JOE FRISARO

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 21, 2001


"We're not one player away from being a Super Bowl team," coach Dave Wannstedt said.

DAVIE -- If the Dolphins had taken Randy Moss in 1998, they wouldn't be hunting for a big-play receiver in today's NFL draft.

Shying away from Moss is former Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson's biggest draft blunder. Even with Wednesday's signing of free agent Dedric Ward, receiver remains a concern.

Miami also is in the market for a linebacker, nickel cornerback and offensive lineman -- although it added free-agent tackle Marcus Spriggs on Thursday. Spriggs started 11 games for the Bills last season and will start at right tackle, with Brent Smith moving to left and Richmond Webb leaving for another team, possibly the Bucs.

With the 26th pick in the first round, the Dolphins have a flexible draft strategy, including the possibility of trading the pick. The 49ers (ninth overall) and the Giants (30th) reportedly have talked to Miami about swapping places.

When it comes to Miami's selection, the issue of character could be a factor.

"We're going to look for solid character guys," said Rick Spielman, the team's vice president of player personnel. "The parameters we put on them, I'm not going to tell you. But in general, we want guys who are solid."

A solid character prospect, and a local fan favorite, is University of Miami receiver Santana Moss. If Moss is available at No. 26, Miami would give serious consideration.

"We'd like a big, fast wide receiver, like everyone else," Spielman said. "You look at big, you look at fast, you look at production. Santana Moss is the exception to that rule. He has some very special qualities that you also have to consider."

Moss, 5 feet 91/2 and 185 pounds, caught 45 passes as a senior and returned four punts for touchdowns. At workouts for the NFL scouts, he ran a 4.3 40 and had an incredible vertical jump of 44 inches -- the maximum height of the vertex bar.

If Moss isn't available, the Dolphins are confident decent receivers will last into the third round. Moss' UM teammate, Reggie Wayne, might have the best hands in the draft. North Carolina's Koren Robinson and UCLA's Freddie Mitchell are other possibilities. Michigan's David Terrell and Clemson's Rod Gardner are regarded as the top receivers in the draft. Miami expects both to be gone before they pick.

Coach Dave Wannstedt isn't committing to any one position or player in the first round.

"We have about four or five needs," Wannstedt said. "We're not one player away from being a Super Bowl team."

The coaching staff even has discussed taking Purdue quarterback Drew Brees.

"Quarterbacks are tough to find," Wannstedt said. "We'd have to look at the quarterback no different than any other position."

Dolphins draft

PICKS: 1st round-26th overall; 2-56; 3-85; 4-122; 5-156; 6-164 (from Chargers); 6-177 (from Redskins); 6-188; 7 (traded to 49ers).

PRINCIPAL NEEDS: An impact wide receiver. And by not re-signing Robert Jones, Miami has a glaring weakness at outside linebacker. Depth on the offensive line, especially tackle, is a concern.

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