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Reaction to Dolphins picking Ja'Wuan James

The Dolphins filled their greatest need and although I understand the criticism of picking Ja'Wuan James without trading down and getting an extra pick for him, I cannot bring myself to hate the pick (particularly since I called it quite a while back).

So that's my reaction to the Dolphins' work in the 2014 NFL Draft's first round.

Here's some more reaction:

General Manager Dennis Hickey admitted he had the opportunity to trade down if he had wanted to.

“With any pick, we are always entertaining (offers), and sometimes you are on the clock and you get a lot of calls, sometimes you get a few," he said. "We had a couple calls, but we were just excited about picking Ja’Wuan James and adding him to our roster. He’s a guy that definitely fits in from a talent aspect as well as the person and brings what the Dolphins are all about."

Hickey weighed the idea of trading down versus the possibility he might lose James and decided not to risk it.

"As always, when calls are made you kind of go through and we kind of had a predisposed plan there to what we value," he said. "Our excitement that Ja’Wuan (James) was there, he was a targeted player that we really feel like was going to help us. He fit all of the criteria, so we were excited to take him. Obviously throughout the draft you are always taking into account all kinds of different scenarios and just weighing them according to how you feel about the player and how you feel about trading back. Obviously we felt good about the player. We are excited to add him to the team."

Hickey doesn't think James at No. 19 is a reach at all.

“We were always targeting Ja’Wuan at our pick," he said. "Again, we are excited and I know he was very excited as we talked to him through our visit here. A couple of times he grabbed me and said, ‘What do we have to do to get me here? I want to be here.’ So I said, ‘We kind of have to go through the process here, Ja’Wuan.’ He’s pumped to be a Miami Dolphin, and we are really excited to have him as part of our organization."

James is Miami's new starting right tackle. Or at least he better be.

And while the orthodox thinking among some fans is that the right tackle has to be a grinder and run-blocker and his pass-blocking can be sub-par because he's not protecting the quarterback's blind side, it is often the RT that has to be a better pass blocker.

Remember, in today's NFL, many teams put their best pass rushers over the right tackle. The Dolphins, for example, do this with Cameron Wake. The Bills often do it with Mario Williams. The Pats do it with Chandler Jones.

Well, Dolphins coach Joe Philbin believes James is good in pass pro.

"I think the one thing we all felt after watching the tape -- and I think that it is the No. 1 job that an offensive tackle in the National Football League has to get done on a consistent basis -- is we felt like he has the ability to pass block one-on-one against defensive ends," Philbin said. "That’s probably the first thing that really stuck out to us. We felt that he was a good scheme fit in the offensive, but I would say that was the number one thing that jumped out."

James joins former University of Tennessee teammate Dallas Thomas, a 2013 draft pick, on the Miami offensive line. Thomas, it must be said, is something of a nomad right now. Philbin said the team has not settled on whether he'll working primarily at guard or tackle initially in 2014.

That decision will be made soon after the draft.

This is what Philbin did not say: The reason the decision will come after the draft is because the Dolphins still want to add a guard in this draft. If they can do that today in rounds 2 or 3, the chances are good Thomas will be slotted in at tackle as a swing guy possibility -- left or right.

If, however, the Dolphins fail in their search for a guard today, Thomas will likely settle in at guard and compete for a starting job there.

The Dolphins absolutely love, love, love Nevada tackle Joel Bitonio, a source familiar with Miami's thinking tells me. The team loves Bitonio as a guard and likely as a left guard.

So if the Dolphins can land him in the second round today ... well, that would be very good. And that would likely make Dallas Thomas a tackle.

Blog note: I will post an update about what the Dolphins are thinking for today's two rounds sometime before noon. Make sure you are here for that and follow me on twitter.  

 

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