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 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.