Now that the draft is in the rear view me everyone is giving out meaningless draft grades. I won’t take up time attempting to grade players I know less about than the scouts and who nobody really knows anything for sure about until we are into training camp. However, I do like to look at situations that go into a pick. I have seen some writers giving the Dolphins negative marks for “over reaching” for Ja’Wuan James. I suppose everyone has their own definition of what an overreach is. I wanted to review the situation and see what you think. Most people would say Jake Matthews, Greg Robinson and Taylor Lewan were higher ranked tackle prospects. There could be an argument made that none of these players would be as good of right tackle since all three will probably all be left tackles for their teams. Still, I am pretty sure Hickey would have be comfortable having any of those guys on the right side. For the Dolphins to get any of those three would have cost a lot of picks to move up. After them Zach Martin was the best rated lineman on the board but he also would have required picks to move up and get. Furthermore, Miami would have been playing him at right tackle in that scenario. I think he is a guard not a tackle due to having shorter arms. Why would you not let Zach Martin use his agility and power at guard rather than try to put him at tackle trying to use shorter arms against some of the ultra-quick ends in the NFL? I think there is a reasonable likelihood Miami was still going to take James even if Martin was on the board for that reason. I am not sure they could have even taken the two picks I wanted in the TE Ebron and Linebacker Mosley if they would have fallen to Miami. It is all irrelevant anyway because all those players were not options when the Dolphins picked. It was an option to fall back in the first round and acquire an extra 3rd round pick based on the trade that occurred right after Miami’s pick. Go through the teams that were on the board after Miami and you will see there were 2 or 3 teams with legitimate needs for a tackle. It would have certainly been a roll of the dice to sweat out those picks if the intent was to get James later on. For fun let’s pretend we had a dream in which the Dolphins traded down for that extra 3rd round pick.
Miami’s base offense is a 3 WR set. It is meant to go no huddle frequently to make it hard for defense’s to sub and take advantage of their fatigue (which is really significant in the Miami sun). It is designed to have the pass setup the run. When the Dolphins do run they like to runs draws, counters, screens, zone stretch runs, and things of that nature. (How bad do John Jerry and Bryant McKinnie fit as lineman to run that scheme?) No wonder we could not run AT ALL last year. For this offense you want smart lineman than can pull and kick out on runs. It requires the lineman (especially the tackles) to be proficient at pass blocking (and run blocking from passing formations). Now that we have an idea of what Miami wanted in a tackle let’s look at what the options were if they lost out on James.
1.) Cyrus Kouandijo - Massive Tackle that had a poor combine and reports of arthritis developing in his knee. A condition that will cause his mobility and possibly availability to decline over time. – Sound like the guy you want trying to kick out on a stretch run or trying to execute a Bill Lazor screen? – He fell quite a ways after James so I think several teams had concern with his health.
2.) Morgan Moses – Big Tackle that played for Lazor. He also had some injury history as well as history to take plays off and look disinterested. That usually means he gets tired. – Sound like a good pick to execute the Miami high paced game plan in the humidity of South Florida?
3.) Joel Bitonio, Jack Mewhort, Billy Turner – See Zach Martin. All three are talented lineman that project better as guards in the NFL.Hmmm, there are not any attractive lineman in the Draft after James that seem to be realistic fits to start at right tackle for Miami on opening day. No Problem, let’s turn to free agency to “plug the hole” until next year. After all this worked well for Ireland with names like Clabo and Columbo in the past didn’t it? As of writing this here are the highest rated free agent tackles on the market…. Brant McKinnie, Tyson Clabo, Eric Winston. Umm yeah, if you are reading a Dolphins blog in May, I am pretty sure you know all you need to about those guys. You can call me pragmatic but I just woke up from that nightmare scenario and decided that the James pick was a pretty good idea!