Long time reader, first time poster.
Drafting James deserves an A grade. Miami did not reach, Hickey is not risk averse, and this is an intelligent move designed to fix deficiencies and allow Tannehill to become the QB we all hope he is. When you consider that the Dolphins were very close to being 10-6 and in the playoffs instead of 8-8, you have to ask what happened?
58 sacks, that's what happened.
Martin and McKinnie allowed 13 sacks at LT. Our new LT Albert, allowed 4.... in 555 passing snaps. Miller and Thomas at RB allowed 5 combined. Our new RB Moreno allowed 0. Granted part of that was due to QB play and scheme, but you get the point. If we had those numbers, Tannehill is already upright 14 more times last year. Clabo allowed 11 at RT and Martin allowed 1. So who do we put at RT?
The consensus seems to be that James, Moses, and Kouandjio are interchangeable because they all have similar grades from the talking heads in the media. They are not interchangeable. Beyond the tape and measureables of a given player, there are knockout factors. Factors that immediately disqualify a player from consideration. For example, you can be the quickest, fastest receiver in the world, but if you cannot catch a football, that is a knockout and as a GM you shouldn't consider that player. Let's look for knockouts with these 3 players.
Moses: Listed as a solid player, capable run blocker, but needs to improve his pass protection. I don't want a RT that has issues is pass protection. I want someone that can pass block right now. I don't care how good of a run blocker he is. Knockout
Kouandjio: Has injury concerns. Has effort concerns. Was absolutely slapped around like a redheaded step child by Eric Striker of Oklahoma giving up multiple sacks and a 4th quarter sack-fumble that sealed the game. Wait...that sounds familiar...... You couldn't pay me to draft this player. Knockout
James: 49 consecutive starts at RT. Credited with 35 blocks resulting in a touchdown in his last 3 seasons, allowed 2 sacks and 8 pressures in his final 29 games including shutting down Jadeveon Clowney. Excels in pass blocking. Plus, he wants to be in Miami. Let's say he cuts the RT sacks allowed in half (although I think it will be better than that), that means that Hickey has taken Tannehill's sacks from 58 to 38 and cut hurries a bunch too.
There were 5 Tackle prospects available to Miami for round 1. The first 3 would have cost wayyy too much to trade up for. There was an outside chance that Martin would fall to 19, but when it didn't happen, James became the only choice. Miami might have been able to trade up and get Martin, but at what cost? If Hickey trades back and loses James, that is a disaster that forces him to take a Tackle that has knockout factors later on.
A team has to realize what it has and get the right players to assist. Not the best players, the right ones. They talked about it last night with Ray Lewis. The Ravens realized what they had in him and drafted players for the DL that would eat up blocks so Lewis could be free to do his thing. Lewis admitted he didn't like being hit, he preferred doing the hitting. That is good overall player management. Miami will live and die with Tannehill. Hickey is smart enough to realize this and is doing everything he can to allow Tannehill to be a quarterback instead of a tackling dummy that occasionally throws the ball.
If we get a solid pass blocking G with the next pick (which I believe we will- It may even be worth trading up to get the right player), we will have a real offensive line that can protect Tannehill. That alone last year would have gotten us to the playoffs. That's a whole lot sexier than going 8-8 and being on the outside looking in.