James: "I’m A Tough, Smart Offensive Lineman"

Posted May 8, 2014

Ja'Wuan James speaks with the South Florida media on a conference call following his selection by the Dolphins.

(On surprise by pick and any idea where he would be picked) – It definitely was a surprise. I wanted to ignore expectations, but I had great interactions with the Dolphins ever since the Combine and ever since the Senior Bowl. And I appreciate them giving me this opportunity. I just want to come in and work.

(On when you saw the other offensive tackles go off the board, did you think the Dolphins would be a good spot for you) – I was just thinking that is a good thing, just watching the draft and seeing the run online. And I was just thinking that was a great opportunity for me wherever I could go, and the Dolphins gave me a great opportunity, and I appreciate them a lot.

(On how you would describe yourself as a player) – I’m a tough, smart offensive lineman. I pride myself on being smart and not making many mistakes. I bring athleticism to the table, strength, and a lot of experience too, being able to play that many games at the position and the conference that I did.

(On his conversations with Dennis Hickey and really wanting to be in Miami) – Yes. I loved it. I loved Mr. Hickey, talking to him. We had great conversations with him throughout this process. The O-line coach came to my school, talked to me for an hour after Pro Day, went over some things, and I got the opportunity to go down there and it just felt right, felt like a great place to come in and work. Also, I got Dallas Thomas down there, and he tells me about the coaches and everything, so if just felt great.

(On how this was a team that struggled with protecting the passer, how important is it to you to protect Ryan Tannehill) – Oh, it is very important. We got to keep him up. I’m part of the O-line now, and I’m just going to do my job to help keep him up. And like I keep saying, I really appreciate this opportunity. I just going to come in and grind.

(On offensive line issues in the locker room and off the field last year being a concern) – No, it’s definitely not. I’m a tough-skinned guy, and when I was down there they expressed that that’s now how the locker room is. They have a lot of signs around like respect, and the team is built off respect, so that’s definitely not going to be a problem at all.

(On if he’s having a party) – Yes, I have my family. My family came down from New Jersey to celebrate with me at home so we’re just on the couch watching it. They called my name, it’s a blessing, and everyone here is excited.

(On if he expected to be a first round pick) – I tried to go into it with no expectations. A lot of people were saying second, third and after my pro day, a lot went up talking about first round. I just wanted to go in it happy to be able to get a chance to play this game.

(On not going to New York) – I’m not one of those guys who likes the cameras in my face, I don’t like to be like that. I like to be around my loved ones so this is just as cool, being at home at my house on my couch.

(On if he likes the challenge of potentially playing against the opposition’s best pass rusher at right tackle) – Yes, it’s just another opportunity, another challenge. In the SEC, I faced a lot of good pass rushers. I know at this next level, there’s a lot of great ones. So as a tackle you have to be able to pass block and run block, that’s our job. I just want to come in and show I can do those two things, and can compete.

(On if he’s in Georgia or Tennessee) – I’m in Georgia right now.

(On if being the first Tennessee lineman of four gives him a sense of pride, or if he had a friendly wager with the other players) – Definitely a lot of pride, our whole O-line was built off of pride. We have a lot of great guys. We joke around and say who’s the best lineman, blah, blah, blah. But I really appreciate this opportunity going first, but I still have some great brothers on that offensive line that are going to get their names called too.

(On his agent) -- Bill Johnson, he’s with Sports Trust out of Atlanta.

(On what he thinks about the possibility of four offensive linemen being picked in the draft from Tennessee) – I love it. Like I said, those are my brothers and I want them to have the same opportunity. I feel like they will and that just goes to show how close and how hard we worked for the past four years together.

(On if he has familiarity with a zone blocking scheme) – Yes, I was fortunate to have three different coaches and we did a lot of different things. This previous coaching staff I had is a big zone blocking scheme team, the spread and also under center. I’m definitely versatile when it comes to playbooks in zone and blocking schemes.
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