AFC East: Ju'Wuan James

DAVIE, Fla. -- The pick: The Miami Dolphins selected former University of Tennessee right tackle Ja'Wuan James at No. 19.

My take: I thought Miami reached with this pick to fill a major need at right tackle. The Dolphins were put at a disadvantage when some of their top targets were taken off the board. The Dolphins lost two of their top reported prospects -- offensive lineman Zack Martin and linebacker C.J. Mosley -- to the Dallas Cowboys at No. 16 and Baltimore Ravens at No. 17, respectively. Miami took a second-tier offensive tackle in the first round when trading back for more picks could have been a better option.

No big trade this year: The Dolphins made a bold move one year ago to trade up nine spots to select defensive end Dion Jordan at No. 3 overall. There was speculation that Miami could be on the move again with the No. 19 overall pick, perhaps to move down this year to acquire more selections. But that wasn’t the case this year with new Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey. Miami stayed put and used the No. 19 pick on James, which the team believes was the best available player.

What’s next: The Dolphins hold the No. 50 and No. 81 overall picks in the second and third rounds, respectively. This is one of the deepest drafts in recent memory, and the Dolphins are expected to land a pair of quality contributors with those picks on Friday. Miami addressed its need at right tackle Thursday. Look for the Dolphins to explore options to fill holes or add depth at positions such as guard, linebacker, safety and wide receiver.
The NFL draft is finally here! But we can’t let the day go by without one last look at projections from around the league before the real event takes place at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Longtime ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. provided his final 2014 mock draft Insider on Thursday. We’ve examined his picks since the NFL combine and now Kiper has made his definitive projections on what the Miami Dolphins will do tonight.

Let’s examine Kiper Jr.'s final prediction for Miami:

Selection: No. 19

Kiper’s pick: Ja'Wuan James, OT, Tennessee

Analysis: James is a late riser up the draft boards. Few people projected him this early into the first round until a week or two ago when it became apparent other offensive tackles are projected to go higher. A perfect example is Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin. He was the favorite for Miami at No. 19 since February. Now, many draft experts believe Martin won’t make it past 12. That has opened the door for second-tier offensive tackles like James to go in the top 20. James is a solid prospect, but he’s not the 19th best player in this draft. Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey said all along that they would take the “best available player” in the first round. If they take James at No. 19, chances are that talk was fluff and Miami was set on reaching to fill a need. However, James is a natural right tackle who could start in Week 1. The need is so great on the offensive line that the pick would make some sense. Still, I believe trading back and trying to get a player like James or Virginia’s Morgan Moses later in the first round works better for Miami.