As Will posted on Friday, the Miami Dolphins selected former Tennessee offensive lineman Ja'Wuan James as the 19th overall pick in this year's NFL Draft. Butch Jones, who you might remember had a hand in discovering and coaching overall #1 pick Eric Fisher in last year's draft, sounds like a proud papa:
"We're exceptionally proud of him," Jones said of James, who completed his eligibility and his degree in December. "Not only is he a first-round draft pick, but he's a University of Tennessee graduate. That's very, very special to be able to excel in the classroom the same way he excelled on the field. He's an individual with great character, great competitive character, a great person that comes from a great family, I just think the world of Ja'Wuan."
Many predicted that James would be the first of four offensive linemen chosen this year, but it was not to be. Only two other Vols were taken: offensive lineman Zach Fulton (193rd pick, Kansas City Chiefs) and defensive lineman Daniel McCullers (215th pick, Pittsburgh Steelers).
Eight other players did get picked up as Undrafted Free Agents, however. Antonio Richardson went to the Vikings, James Stone and Jacques Smith went to the Falcons, Alex Bullard went to the Lions, J.R. Carr went to the Redskins, Rajion Neal went to the Packers, Michael Palardy went to the Jets, and Dontavis Sapp went to the Cowboys.
The biggest surprise, of course, was Richardson going undrafted despite leaving school early to declare for the draft. Rumor has it that there were issues with his knees. When Jones was asked about it, he didn't really answer with any specificity, but did take the opportunity to note that, "Tiny didn't miss one thing, and he played every game." Here's to hoping the Vikings, too, realize his toughness and that he has a long and prosperous career. Ditto all the rest of the guys.