Mark Schlereth said on Wednesday he believes the Broncos “absolutely” overpaid for Ja’Wuan James, who will be the highest-paid right tackle in the NFL by inking a four-year, $51 million deal with Denver.
But that’s the name of the game with free agency, the “Schlereth and Evans” co-host said.
“You want a free agent, you’re going to have to overpay for that free agent,” Schlereth said.
In the end, however, Schlereth said the Broncos may have snatched up something special in James.
“Just from a pure skills standpoint, he’s obviously the most skilled guy they’ve had come in here to play right tackle in the John Elway era,” Schlereth said. “There’s no question about that.”
Upon reviewing film of James last year playing for the Miami Dolphins against the Chicago Bears — wherein he held Khalil Mack to one tackle, one assist, no sacks, and no pressures — Schlereth said he saw someone who was “unbelievably athletic.”
“He has a great sense of where his help is. He understands slides. He understands the running back position. He understands the tight ends. He does a good job with angles on his kicks and everything else,” Schlereth said. “So, I think that part was phenomenal.”
Where James could improve, Schlereth said, was finishing.
“I just think he loses blocks late. And that feels more like technique and attitude,” Schlereth said.
But with the addition of offensive line guru Mike Munchak to the Broncos coaching staff, Schlereth said James can learn how to improve in that area.
“Can you get him to finish? Can you teach him some nasty? Does that become part of his game?” Schlereth said. “Because if it is, then I think you’ve gotten yourself a really good player.”
Schlereth said Munchak could mold James much in the same way he did with Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Alejandro Villanueva, who earned his second Pro Bowl nod in 2018.
Villanueva lacked some “fundamental process, fundamental skills, and fundamental finish,” Schlereth said, but Munchak tapped into his full potential.
Follow digital content producer Johnny Hart on Twitter: @JohnnyHart7.
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