Miami Dolphins select Ja'Wuan James No. 19 overall in the 2014 NFL draft
With four offensive tackles already off the board, the lineman-starved Dolphins selected Tennessee's Ja'Wuan James with the No. 19 overall pick. James had climbed the charts as a prospect after the 2013 season ended, lapping his teammate Antonio Richardson, who once was mentioned among the Round 1 OTs.
The NFL Network's Ian Rapoport mentioned last week that the Dolphins might have set their sights on James, over the likes of Cyrus Kouandjio or Morgan Moses, both of whom carried plenty of questions marks themselves. James will have to prove he can handle a starting gig at the next level, but there certainly is potential there.
Strengths: Absolutely fits the part of an NFL tackle at 6-foot-6 and 311 pounds. When he is able to control that size by driving it into opposing defenders, he can be a menace up front, both in the run and pass games. Advanced his game enough to project as an early NFL starter, with room to continue growing as a blocker once he gets to the next level. And speaking of the next level, James is quick-footed enough to throw his weight into a defensive lineman, then release to find a linebacker as well. Drops and anchors well, protecting the QB on passing attempts.
Weaknesses: There's work to be done here, mainly with technique. James can be caught too high, allowing defenders to shove him off-balance. He also will have to become more consistent in all aspects of his game -- the flashes of dominance up front only come every so often, with some misses on his chart. Almost certainly will have to open his career as a RT, which is where he played throughout college. A move to left tackle will take some time.
Grade: C. Teams can get into trouble when they eschew the best talent on the board for positions of need, but the Dolphins found themselves a bit boxed into a corner -- horribly thin and outmatched along the offensive line, plus unable (or unwilling) to move up for one of the top four tackles. Neither Kouandjio nor Moses provided much more of a safe pick than James, and James may wind up being the best of the bunch. Still, in terms of where a prospect landed on the overall draft board, this was a reach.