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Miami Dolphins Solidify Offensive Line with Ja'Wuan James Selection

Ja'Wuan James, a 6'6" behemoth from the University of Tennessee, is the Miami Dolphins new right tackle, adding another leg to Dennis Hickey's offensive line rebuild.


The Miami Dolphins have selected Tennessee right tackle Ja'Wuan James with the 19th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey fills his most glaring hole in the draft with the drafting of James and is now free to attack the rest of the draft in any way he wants.

James is a key piece in the offensive line rebuild that is nearly complete and was necessary for the Dolphins to succeed in 2014. James is an excellent pass blocker and a willing run blocker. By willing I mean he isn't exactly great at it, but he is good enough and never lacking effort. James is a plug-and-play RT who has started 49 consecutive games at RT for the Volunteers, denoting he knows the position and he is durable.

Some people are a bit upset with this pick. Those people simply do not understand the situation or forgot what the Dolphins' most deficient area was last season. Do you remember the main reason the Miami Dolphins missed the playoffs in 2013?

Offensive line.

The Dolphins lost (at least) two games, Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens, because of poor offensive line play in crunch time that led to a sack fumble in one case and a sack which pushed the Dolphins out of range for a last second field goal. A win in those two games would put the Dolphins at 10-6 and in the playoffs.

This is why the Dolphins had to take Ju'Wuan James. With the top OTs, and my personal favorite CJ Mosely, off the board, the Dolphins took no chances in trading back and selected the guy they wanted to man their RT spot, the guy who has started 49 games at RT and wouldn't have to make a position change (like Morgan Moses and Cyrus Kouandjio would).

However, there is one viable gripe that is hidden in that last sentence. Could the Dolphins have traded back a few spots, landed a few extra picks and still manage to secure James? You have to wonder if Hickey's inexperience as a GM hindered his ability to pull of a trade, but it's likely Miami saw the guy they wanted and needed and didn't want to take the chance to let him slip through their fingers.

There is also the point that HaHa Clinton-Dix was still on the board when Miami chose James. Some argue that Clinton-Dix should have been the pick simply because he was the higher rated player on most people's boards.

Let me simply counter with this; would you want your team's first round pick on the bench for most of the year...again? Clinton-Dix would be a "future replacement" pick. The Dolphins need players who will contribute now. While Clinton-Dix would likely have stepped in as the starting free safety after Louis Delmas's deal expired after next season, James was clearly the player that would equate to more wins for the 2014 Dolphins.

The offensive line rebuild I mentioned earlier has been priority number one for Dennis Hickey ever since his arrival in Miami, and it has shown. Minutes into free agency he aggressively signed left tackle Branden Albert to a huge contract, ensuring that no other team would swoop for the steal and now he drafted the man to occupy the other tackle spot with the 19th overall pick in the NFL Draft.

Hickey doesn't want his offensive line to be a laughing stock. Hickey doesn't want his quarterback to be sacked 58 times. And, most importantly, Hickey wants to win. That much is clear as he continues to retool the most mutilating part of the 2013 Miami Dolphins.

You may say the pick is a reach, but if the Dolphins make the playoffs next year what will you say?