Wright Draws Mixed Reviews

Times Staff Writer

Now, NFL teams can feel USC’s pain.

Both have been let down by Manuel Wright.

Wright, the former Trojan defensive tackle eligible for selection in Thursday’s supplemental draft, put on a lackluster performance Friday during a private workout at USC before scouts from virtually every NFL team.

“It was a microcosm of what he did in college,” one team executive said. “Some good, some bad.”


Even though Wright ran a 4.97-second 40-yard dash -- impressive for a 6-foot-5, 329-pound man -- several scouts noted he was not in top shape and looked overly winded between drills. He finished by bench-pressing 225 pounds 16 times, roughly 10 repetitions fewer than scouts typically expect from a top defensive-line prospect.

Most teams had one or two representatives at the workout, but Miami sent five, among them its general manager, defensive coordinator and defensive-line coach, who conducted some of the drills for Wright. The Dolphin contingent didn’t stick around to watch the end of the workout, however, casting doubt on how much the team is willing to give up for him.

The consensus of several scouts Friday was that Wright will be selected in the third round.

The highlight of Wright’s workout occurred on the track, when, after grabbing his right hamstring and aborting his first 40, he came back and turned in two good times.


“I was showing I had heart,” he said. “Showing I could ride it out and stick with it.”

Wright had an inconsistent career with the Trojans, one marked by flashes of excellence on the field and frequent academic struggles. He was a backup behind first-round pick Mike Patterson and second-rounder Shaun Cody. Wright was slated to be a starter in this his junior season. He applied for the supplemental draft, though, even before learning whether his grades would be good enough to keep him eligible.

He played a significant role in a goal-line stand against No. 7 California last season that helped preserve a 23-17 victory for the Trojans.

Fewer than 10 players are eligible for the supplemental draft, which is held for college players who have lost their eligibility after the regular NFL draft deadline or have decided to forgo their final year of eligibility to play professionally. The supplemental draft order is determined by lottery, and if a team selects a player, it forfeits its pick in the corresponding round of the 2006 college draft.


Among the notable players selected in supplemental drafts: former New York Jet receiver Rob Moore, former Seattle linebacker Brian Bosworth, and current San Diego defensive tackle Jamal Williams.