You could say that my opinion and assessment of the Miami Dolphins 2014 draft has been honest. You may not agree with it but it is my opinion and frankly as an overall, I wasn’t thrilled and felt that Dennis Hickey could have drafted better. To me this draft had too much of a Joe Philbin feel and that could work in these youngsters favor. If he wanted them, there is no reason why he won’t play them.
Over the next several days I will steer away from the negative vibe I have for this draft and instead concentrate on how these players can help the Miami Dolphins win. In other words, I’ll take a stab at being positive. Honest but positive. Regardless of reach, draft position or ratings and grades, each player taken in the draft has potential. Potential helps build champions. So does coaching but that is an entirely different conversation. Be warned though, while I will remain positive throughout these next seven articles my opinion does not necessarily change 100%. So when I do come back at some point with an article that may not be so favorable to Hickey, I’m not being a hypocrite.
I will start this off with Ja’Wuan James of Tennessee. Taken 19th overall by the Dolphins, James should start immediately on the right side of the line of scrimmage. He is not made to play guard so you can pencil him in at tackle. The Dolphins entered the draft with glaring holes, not weaknesses, on the right side of that line. James has big school playing time and the transition to the NFL should go smoother for him than fellow rookie Billy Turner. You do have to love SEC players.
James is a quick lineman for his size and can handle the outside edge well. He is fully capable of keeping DE’s out of the back-field and that is an important need for the Dolphins who gave up 58 sacks last season with a good portion of those coming from the right side. James is also solid in run blocking and I like the way he is able to pull off blocks and then chart his next opponent at the next level. More importantly James has the right mental make-up for the next level.
If James can indeed progress at the NFL level the Dolphins will have a lock down on the right side for the next four years or more.
Off the field, James is a quality practice player and locker room leader. He won’t be asked to lead but will find that it is in his nature. He won’t be pushed around into doing things he knows are not right or let others do the same. James will also quickly get acclimated to the teams playbook. He should fit in well with the speed of the West Coast style of play and give Ryan Tannehill a lot more time than he had last year. The only downside to James at this point is the fact that he only plays the tackle position so if he struggles, learning a new position could hurt his development.
Despite the fact that James was drafted in round one, he will still need to compete with both Shelley Smith and Nate Garner for first team. The Dolphins will give him every opportunity to make that happen. James’ biggest test will come against stronger DE’s but he will learn from one of the best, Cameron Wake. If James can learn to keep his head up at all times and can hold off Wake then he will have a strong chance to get stronger as the season progresses.