The Dolphins consider their first-round selection of Miami offensive lineman Vernon Carey a draft-day victory over the defending Super Bowl champions. The Dolphins believe they outmaneuvered New England and Dallas on Saturday to acquire Carey by swinging a trade with Minnesota, moving up one spot to No. 19 in exchange for their own first- and fourth-round draft choices.
Regardless of whether the Patriots and Cowboys were bluffing or intended to move up to select Carey, the Dolphins continued the offseason reconstruction of their offensive line while also avoiding the nightmare scenario that would have unfolded if another team, especially a division rival such as the Patriots, had snagged him.
"[The Vikings] were on the phone with two other teams I know needed offensive linemen," Dolphins General Manager Rick Spielman said. "We weren't going to take the chance of not getting Vernon Carey."
Carey was the Dolphins' only pick Saturday, as the team traded its third-round choice to Green Bay for the Packers' fourth- and fifth-round selections today.
The first offensive lineman chosen in the first round by the Dolphins since Billy Milner in 1995, Carey will compete with free-agent pickup John St. Clair for the starting right tackle spot. The Dolphins are content with having the untested Greg Jerman and Taylor Whitley battle to start at right guard.
Dolphins offensive line coach Tony Wise said Jerman will enter the team's first 2004 minicamp Friday as the starter. But if dissatisfied with Jerman and Whitley, the Dolphins have the option of moving Carey or St. Clair to guard.
Carey said Saturday that he preferred playing tackle. He played left guard at UM last year in a season marred by a high left ankle sprain suffered during the preseason.
"I know what it takes to win games, and it starts in the trenches," Carey said. "I don't think this team needs that much. All they needed was somebody in the trenches to help them [pass] protect and open little cracks for Ricky Williams. I think that is what is going to get the job done."
The Patriots, who had the No. 21 selection, had called Carey earlier in the draft and may have been negotiating with Minnesota for the chance to acquire his services. Dallas, which picked at No. 22, also wanted to trade with Minnesota, but a team source told The Dallas Morning News that it wasn't to select Carey.
The Vikings weren't interested in drafting Carey, having instead targeted Southern California defensive end Kenechi Udeze. Minnesota was willing to deal with the Dolphins provided they didn't draft Udeze or trade the pick to another franchise.
The Dolphins say they would have tried to trade out of the 20th selection if Carey weren't available because the team didn't have another offensive linemen or wide receiver graded high enough to justify getting picked at that point in the draft. The three other players the Dolphins had targeted at No. 20 -- Arkansas tackle Shawn Andrews and wide receivers Lee Evans (Wisconsin) and Michael Clayton (Louisiana State) -- had been selected.
Evans and Clayton were picked at Nos. 13 and 15, respectively, by Buffalo and Tampa Bay. Andrews was chosen at No. 16 by Philadelphia, which acquired the selection by sending its first- and second-round picks to San Francisco.
The Dolphins had hoped Andrews would fall to the 20th selection and entered Saturday willing to trade up in the draft to acquire him. But the Dolphins didn't have the firepower to match Philadelphia's offer, as their 2004 second-round selection was traded last year for a 2003 third-round choice used to select left tackle Wade Smith.
Jacksonville and Buffalo were among five teams to contact the Dolphins about acquiring the 20th pick. But as long as they had a shot to acquire Carey, the Dolphins were unwilling to deal.
"We only had a couple of guys that we felt who were first-round type of guys who could come in and compete and have a chance to help us this year," Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt said. "Vernon was one of those guys."
2004: Dolphins deal to grab Carey
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