Derwin James is one of the top defensive backs in the 2018 NFL Draft class and should be able to make an immediate impact at the NFL level.
Derwin James started his career at Florida St. as good as any freshman in college football. A combination of his frame, potential, and heavy production (91 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles) had the Seminoles confident of his impact going into his sophomore season.
Unfortunately, two weeks into the 2016 season, James suffered a tear in his left meniscus that would force him to miss the rest of the season.
Expectations were high coming into the 2017 season and he managed to prove his abilities throughout the season. While his injury will still need to be monitored, he looked like one of the top safeties in the class.
He earned second-team All-American honors along with first-team All-ACC honors.
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Weight: 215 lbs
School: Florida St.
Derwin James is one of the most intimidating players in the 2018 draft class. On the field, James possesses all the physical tools you look for in a NFL safety. He’s one of the best athletes in the class and will likely shine at the NFL combine as an athletic freak.
He lined up all over the field for the Seminoles, demonstrating tremendous versatility. While this should translate to NFL fairly smoothly, his best position will likely be strong safety. Was aggressive and a willing tackler who didn’t shy from contact. Did a nice job covering tight ends. Showed a knack for blitzing with good timing and speed to get off the edge. Powerful player who plays with tenacity, often pursuing the play through to the end of the whistle. James will be one of the more sought-after prospects in this class.
There are not a lot of weaknesses in his game, outside of some minor technical issues. James will need to improve his anticipation, occasionally hesitating when trying to read a wide receivers route. Tends to focus on the route rather than reading the play as the quarterback goes through his progressions.
At times, he waited for the play to come to him, rather than meeting the ball carrier downhill. His injury history is likely to draw some red flags, so clearing medicals will come into play here.
James is one of the top players in this class. While his stock has fluctuated, going from a top-10 pick to backend of the first round, he finished the season on a high note and should be catapulted up draft boards after the combine.
His versatility will allow him to play in any scheme. His physical tools open him up for further development. He has an alpha-dog mentality that will appeal to most coaches around the league.
There’s a lot to like about James and considering his technical issues are very coachable, he should be a near-lock to go in the early to mid-first round.