Ja’Wuan James: ‘It’s our job to get it done’
A six-pack of Dolphins notes on a Thursday:
▪ A few points we’ve heard regarding the Dolphins’ offensive line and what they’ve been communicating:
A) What general manager Chris Grier said publicly — that he wants to re-sign Ja’Wuan James — he has reiterated in strong terms privately. Miami really, really wants to keep him, according to people who have spoken to the Dolphins. But there is a point where Miami would walk away, if the bidding becomes absurd.
James is free to negotiate with other teams beginning next Monday and can sign with another team next Wednesday.
Grier holds James in higher regard than Adam Gase did.
B) Both guard spots likely will have open competition. And the Dolphins want to develop young guys at the position.
NFL people who have spoken to the Dolphins expect the Dolphins to move on from Josh Sitton, though the team hasn’t publicly said that; that was an Adam Gase recommendation that didn’t work out. Sitton also expects to be released.
The Dolphins liked some of the things they saw in Jesse Davis’ first year as the team’s starting right guard, but not enough for Miami to be sure he’s a longterm starter. Davis had supporters with former offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn and Gase, but new offensive line coach Pat Flaherty is entering with a fresh set of eyes.
Of 79 qualifying guards, Davis rated 57th, according to Pro Football Focus, and 61st in run blocking. He allowed seven sacks (tied for fourth most among guards) and 17 hurries (tied for 32nd most).
So Miami cannot say with any certainty at this point who its starting guards will be.
C) The Dolphins, at this point, are planning to keep Daniel Kilgore for a second year at center after his first season was aborted, after only four games, because of injury. But while Kilgore is the front-runner to start, the Dolphins aren’t merely giving him the job. There will be competition.
Kilgore would have been 31st of PFF’s 38 centers if he had enough snaps to qualify. Travis Swanson, a free agent who started at the position for much of the second half of the season, was 20th.
Kilgore remains cheap, so there’s no need to move on yet. He has base salaries of $2.2 million and $3.1 million the next two seasons and cap hits of $2.4 million and $3.6 million. But there’s no conviction internally that he will necessarily be the starting center coming out of the rebuilding program in a couple of years.
D) Miami likes the offensive line depth in this draft and would like to add a couple players from the draft process to their team.
E) The Dolphins saw enough promising things from Isaac Asiata as a run blocker that they want to invest more time in him. Same with backup tackle Zach Sterup.
No surprise here, but the Dolphins view Laremy Tunsil as a long-term building block.
▪ ESPN’s Todd McShay was asked by Steve Levy on SportsCenter on Wednesday night if he’s mocking Missouri quarterback Drew Lock to the Dolphins at No. 13 simply because Miami needs a quarterback or because Lock is genuinely worthy of being picked that high.
McShay said it’s more of a case of Lock now being a worthy mid first-round pick.
Lock “has great mobility and arm strength, even though he needs some work with mechanics and ball placement,” McShay said. “He’s a guy that could develop into a big-time player. He has tools that I don’t know anyone else in this quarterback class has.”
NBC’s Chris Simms offered this take on Lock: “Yeah, there’s some dumb interceptions every game. But he wasn’t afforded the luxury of going, ‘Well, I don’t have to take a chance here, I can punt it and my defense will hold them.’ Those are the things Dwayne Haskins was afforded.
“He has a special arm like a Patrick Mahomes, like a Baker Mayfield, like an Aaron Rodgers. I’m not saying it’s that powerful. But... he’s a natural, gifted thrower. I really like Drew Lock. He’s NFL ready right now.”
▪ Here’s one thing that’s really smart about how Grier and coach Brian Flores have gone about the staffing process:
They’ve embraced the idea of hiring smart, talented and more experienced people than they are instead of worrying about whether they would feel threatened bringing in smart, talented and more experienced people.
With Grier, there was the savvy decision to hire former Raiders 2016 NFL Executive of the Year Reggie McKenzie as a senior personnel executive. McKenzie attended some of the team’s meetings with NFL people at the Combine.
With Flores, there was the move to hire former Lions and Colts coach Jim Caldwell as something of a right-hand man, serving in a role designated as assistant head coach and quarterback coach.
“We had previous discussions about the league in general, preparation for interviews and things of that nature,” Caldwell said. “This was long before this opportunity came up. He had asked me at one point in time, ‘If I get something and you’re not in football at the time, would you consider it?’ That’s kind of how he stated it. I told him ‘Yeah, I would consider it.’ Fortunately, it worked out. I’m here and I’m in a position to serve, which I’m happy about.”
Caldwell had an interesting one year out of football.
He worked as a consultant to the new XFL and traveled to far away lands.
“It was the first year that I had off in 41 years,” he said. “I [spent time with family] … went to Israel, went to Singapore. I did some consulting on the pro level and on the college level as well. It was a fun year, but I’m glad I’m back to work, to be honest with you.”
Does he want to be a head coach again?
“That’s not my goal and aim,” he said. “My goal and aim is to help this team win and win consistently. That’s all I’m focused on. I’m not looking at anything else. I’ve been around the block a little bit.”
▪ I’d be surprised if the Dolphins take many knuckleheads – even if they’re supremely talented – with Grier in charge.
Defensive line coach Marion Hobby said when Grier would visit Clemson looking at draft prospects, “what he was looking for in players always stood out. When he got you in the office, he wanted to know the same thing — What about his character? Is this guy a flat-line guy? Does this guy have intensity? Will he grow? All those things there.”
▪ Former Dolphins backup quarterback Matt Moore, who did not play last season, spent the past week with Dolphins officials at the NFL scouting combine and will be spending time with Miami’s personnel people moving forward, as he transitions to a potential new career.
Moore declined overtures from teams (not the Dolphins) to audition for backup quarterback jobs last season. Miami decided not to resign him after the 2017 season.
▪ Quick stuff: Easton Stick, a talented draft-eligible quarterback from North Dakota State, has been on Miami’s radar for a while. The Dolphins sent a scout to watch him in August practices...
Among players being linked to Miami in the second round: Oklahoma guard Dru Samia; draftscout.com has him as Miami’s second-round pick at 48. “A big, physical and agile pile mover, Samia would fit the style of play that new head coach Brian Flores would like to implement, while boosting the run game immediately,” NFL Draft Scout said.... Others at need positions listed in the Dolphins’ second-round range (between 44 and 50) in that mock draft include Temple cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, Louisiana Tech defensive end Jaylon Ferguson and Notre Dame defensive tackle Jerry Tillery....
The Dolphins have $15 million in cap space after cutting Ted Larsen and Andre Branch.... Denver’s move to acquire Case Keenum eliminates one of the few potential Ryan Tannehill suitors.