Coach Philbin: "We All Felt Good About His Fit Here"

Posted May 9, 2014

Dolphins Head Coach Joe Philbin joins General Manager Dennis Hickey to answer questions from the South Florida media on Dolphins first-round draft choice Ja'Wuan James.

Dennis Hickey

(On how much consideration he gave into making a trade-down at the 19th pick) – “As always when calls are made you kind of go through and we kind of had a predisposed plan there to what we value. 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.”

(On how eager he was to get an offensive lineman with a first round pick) – “Again going back to it, we were eager to get players that we had targeted. Definitely Ja’Wuan (James) was one of those players. Obviously he’s an offensive lineman, and we are excited to add him to the mix that we have. I know Ryan (Tannehill) is excited about having another offensive tackle, another quality offensive tackle with 36-inch arms that can really pass protect and is a talented athlete, all the things that Ja’Wuan brings to the table.”

(On if there was a concern Ja’Wuan James wouldn’t be available if he traded back) – “When you are talking about trading, you take into account what may happen. You have reconnaissance of what other teams have visited, worked out, all of those things. You take that into account, but again it goes back to the individual player for us.”

(On his thoughts on the 2nd and 3rd round tomorrow and what he can accomplish) – “We’re excited. We still feel like there are a lot of good players on the board. In between just coming down here, we are looking at the board and just kind of mapping out where we are at now with the players that have been selected and the players that are still available. We think there will be a lot of good options for tomorrow.”

Joe Philbin

(On your first impressions with your new right tackle) – “I think we need to start about when Bill came in and we got together as an offensive staff, everybody sat down and we talked about position specifics, and we put together different traits that we were looking for, both from a size perspective and arm length. I think that the one thing we all felt after watching the tape, and I think that it is the number one 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. 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.”

(On if it is a concern that the new offensive line will gel over the next 6 months and be ready for Week 1) – “Well, we’ve been working hard at it. We’ve had the guys that are partaking in the offseason program that have done an excellent job so far. We have roughly six weeks left of the offseason program, and we still have opportunities to accomplish an awful lot in training camp, so we just got to get the 90 guys into the building, we’ll start working with each and every one of them and see how it fits together.”

(On if he’s decided whether Dallas Thomas will become a guard or tackle moving forward) – “Well as you know, he got reps a both positions last year, and he made a lot of progress. He’s stronger than he was; he’s been one of the guys that’s been in here since February, basically working out and working hard, doing a good job on the field. He’s a guy that gives us flexibility and we’re going to get a plan in place for him. At the end of the weekend when we reconvene, we’ll give a spot for him and let him go back to work.”

(On when they reached a consensus on drafting Ja’Wuan James and when they realized he was the player to target) – Well we’ve been working at it for a long time with Dennis and his staff. We sent John Benton to Knoxville to the workout, brought him in for an interview. We all saw him at the combine, we met him at the combine, we spent a lot of time, we watched a lot of tape. I don’t think there was any great revelation, but we all felt good about his fit here, his ability to fit within the scheme. We thought he would be a good fit culturally, he’s a good person, a smart kid, and the more we did, the more we liked.”

(On if there was consideration given to the fact that he spent his whole career at right tackle) – It was certainly part of it. We liked his durability, we liked that fact that he played 49 games in one of the best conferences in the country and performed and got better as his career went on. It certainly didn’t hurt him; I will say that for sure.”

(On what he sees in terms of his run blocking ability) – “We think that he has a very good body balance and control, we like the way he can step right or left. I know that sounds like an elementary think, but we evaluate a lot of lineman coming out. Some guys really struggle moving one direction or the other, and we felt this guys is a very good athlete, he has good quickness of the football, he had good pictures on the second level blocking, so I think he is going to do fine in the run game as well. But I think probably the first thing that jumps we felt is his pass protection ability, and I think when you’re playing offensive tackle the way it is today in the National Football League, the way people move around, defensive ends that is, your right tackle needs to be able to pass protect as well.”

(On how much better Ryan Tannehill can be with a quality offensive line) – “Again the passing game starts with pass protection. I don’t care if you are taking a three-step drop, a five-step, seven-step, it doesn’t matter. The pass protection has to be there. It’s the foundation of the passing game, so the better the pass protection my history has been in any level of football your quarterback has a chance to make better decisions and throw the ball with more accuracy when he has more time.”

Dennis Hickey

(On if there was any thought to taking Johnny Manziel or another quarterback) – “With Ja’Wuan James there, (James) was a targeted guy going into it. When he was there, there was no question he was going to be the player that we were going to select if we stayed at that pick.”

(On how many targeted players he had in the first round) – “There was probably 13 (players).”

(On who he would have taken if Ja’Wuan James wasn’t there) – “I don’t deal on hypothetical questions. I know you love hypothetical questions.”

(On if there is any academic reasons that would prevent Ja’Wuan James from participating in offseason activities) – “(No).”
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