FIRST-DAY EVALUATION

The Dolphins probably won't get very high grades around the country for their efforts on the first day of the draft, but it looks from here like their work improved in the third round.

We already have talked about our feelings that the selection of linebacker Eddie Moore in the second round was highly questionable, even though the Dolphins defended the pick, saying Moore would have been gone by the end of the second round.

Coach Dave Wannstedt said Moore was the highest-rated player on the Dolphins' board at No. 49 and he filled a need for depth at linebacker on top of that.

We're still not crazy about the pick, regardless of what Wannstedt and senior vice president Rick Spielman say, but we do like at least one of the two third-round picks.

That would the selection of Wade Smith, the offensive tackle from Memphis.

We have heard from more than one source coming into the draft that this guy had the chance to become one of the steals and was someone with tremendous upside.

He had relatively limited experience at offensive tackle (one year on the right side, one year on the left), but is a very good athlete who could blossom with some good coaching.

The selection of Taylor Whitley at No. 87 overall probably don't have as much reward potential, but Whitley has the look of someone who should come in and at least contribute as a backup.

And, make no mistake, the Dolphins really needed depth along the offensive line. Last year's three backups were rookie third-round pick Seth McKinney, rookie free agent Greg Jerman and veteran Marcus Spriggs. Well, Spriggs is a free agent and Jerman still is an unproven commodity, so the Dolphins needed help.

The argument certainly can be made that the Dolphins could have used a wide receiver on the first day, but you can't get everything you need. Besides, there should still be a decent receiver available in the fifth round.

To be sure, this doesn't look like a memorable draft for the Dolphins. But we surely like what they did in the third round a lot better than what they did in the second.


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