- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
Best move: The Dolphins, as expected, plugged their biggest hole of need in the first round. Miami spent the No. 19 overall pick to select former Tennessee right tackle Ja'Wuan James. He was a durable, four-year starter whom Miami believes will be ready to play in Week 1. The only question with this pick is whether Miami had to take James at No. 19. The Dolphins were talking to other teams about trading down to acquire more picks and perhaps could have landed James in the 20s, but Miami says it was safer to take James, whom general manager Dennis Hickey says was the best player on the board. If James turns out to be a quality starter for a long time, no one will care that James was taken at No. 19 instead of later in the first round. James will pair with Pro Bowler Branden Albert as Miami's two new offensive tackles in 2014.
Riskiest move: The Dolphins didn't make a lot of risky moves in this draft, but fourth-round pick Walt Aikens comes with a red flag. Aikens was kicked out of Illinois after his arrest for felony possession of stolen electronics in 2010. According to Aikens, he bought a laptop from a teammate that turned out to be stolen. Aikens pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft and was forced to leave Illinois. He continued his career at Liberty and worked his way into a fourth-round pick. The Dolphins did their homework into Aikens' background and felt he was worthy of the selection. According to NFL.com's Gil Brandt, Aikens was the first player drafted who wasn't invited to the NFL combine. Aikens said Saturday that he wants to compete for a starting job right away, but his best chance most likely is to compete on special teams.
Most surprising move: After playing it safe on Day 1, the Dolphins were wheeling and dealing on Day 2. Hickey produced three trades with the San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders in the second and third rounds, respectively. Miami traded down twice and moved up once. The result was the Dolphins drafting LSU wide receiver Jarvis Landry at the end of the second round and offensive lineman Billy Turner near the top of the third round. Both players are expected to add depth to Miami's roster. But it was surprising to see Hickey, in his first draft, do a complete 180 in terms of aggressiveness on Friday.
File it away: Leadership was a major issue in Miami in 2013. The Dolphins went through a bullying scandal that caused a media firestorm and suffered a late-season collapse while having a chance to make the playoffs. Five of Miami’s first six drafted players -- James, Landry, Turner, tight end Arthur Lynch and linebacker Jordan Tripp -- were team captains for their respective college teams. That was not a coincidence. Hickey made it a point to acquire natural leaders to place in Miami’s locker room. The Dolphins are putting a heavy emphasis on character at the top of this draft as they work to remake their locker-room image.