Miami Dolphins RT Ja’Wuan James (eventually) attains consistency

Dolphins offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Dolphins offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

(Note: This continues a series in Daily Dolphin spotlighting members of the team individually. In addition to reliving highlights and lowlights of the past season for each, we’ll provide analysis and criticism, plus take a look at how each player fits — or doesn’t fit — into the team’s plans for 2017.)

RT Ja’Wuan James

Height, weight: 6-6, 307

College: Tennessee

Age: Turns 25 on June 3

Experience: Entering fourth season, all with Dolphins

Acquired: First-round pick in 2014

Contract: Made $2.3 million in 2016; due $2.7 million in 2017

Pro Football Focus rank: 32nd out of 78 tackles ranked overall; 18th in run blocking

In 2016

Stats: Started all 16 games

Straight talk: James struggled adjusting to new line coach Chris Foerster’s techniques as the 2016 started. The lowlight came in the Cleveland game, when Adam Gase benched him for overtime after James gave up a strip-sack-fumble that could have resulted in an embarrassing loss.

For what it’s worth, by season’s end, Pro Football Focus rated James as the Dolphins’ best offensive lineman.

James ranked 32nd of all NFL tackles but was singled out for his run blocking, where he was 18th. And despite getting pulled in the Cleveland game, James played 99 percent of Miami’s offensive snaps.

Upon getting benched, James said, “You’ve just got to be consistent.” No, James hasn’t made the Pro Bowl, which would be the goal for a right tackle taken in the first round, but overall consistency — except for early fall 2016 — has been his game.

“I think he’s done a good job of trying to head in the direction we need him to head,” coach Adam Gase said. “I still think we have a lot of room to where we can help him, and I think there are some things that he can help himself on. … There are still big strides for him to make. I don’t think we’re even close to where his ceiling is.”

 

Prospects for 2017

The Dolphins hope they’ll be set at both tackle positions for years now that Laremy Tunsil is taking over for Branden Albert on the left side and James is on the right. At the same time, the heat is on James because the Dolphins believe they should be getting more from him. It’s an important season for him.

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