Miami Dolphins Play It Safe, Reach For Right Tackle Ja'Wuan James With First-Round Pick

By Cody Strahm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins entered the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft with an obvious need at right tackle after quarterback Ryan Tannehill was sacked a club worst 58 times in 2013. And a right tackle is exactly what they got at pick No. 19 overall.

Tennessee‘s Ja’Wuan James is the newest member of the Dolphins. Perhaps higher rated players at higher impact positions were for the taking. Perhaps James was a fairly sizable reach at pick No. 19 and would have provided much better value after a trade down or even in Round 2.

But the Dolphins obviously weren’t going to play any more games with their supposed franchise quarterback. They simply deemed protecting Tannehill too vital to the success of the franchise not to get a dependable right tackle as early as possible in the draft. James, with 49 games of starting experience at the right tackle spot for the Volunteers, gives Miami just that.

James’ ceiling might not be incredibly high, but he’s considered by many analysts to be a safe bet to become at least a solid right tackle at the next level. He possesses the athletic ability to be an excellent fit in the zone-blocking scheme. Although his run blocking is far from a finished product, especially in space at the second level, he has all the tools to excel in pass protection from the first day he steps on the field in Miami. That quality, more than anything else, is exactly what the 2014 Dolphins needed in this draft.

Maybe GM Dennis Hickey and company missed out on an opportunity to reel in a playmaker — something they could regret in the future — but James fills the team’s biggest void today. More importantly, he makes Ryan Tannehill a better quarterback.

Cody Strahm is an NFL author for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @CodyJStrahm.

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