Derwin James is a force to be reckoned with. The 212 pound safety made a name as the best defensive back in the 2018 NFL draft class with some recognizable stats and plays. James believes he’s a top-10 pick, which is understandable. In this case, is James worth trading up for? What if he fell to the 29th pick, which belongs to the Jacksonville Jaguars? Let’s look into why he’s a potential gem for the Jaguars.
In 2015, James had a standout year as a freshman. He recorded 91 total tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, four-and-a-half sacks, four pass deflections, and two forced fumbles.
Coming off his outstanding first year, all eyes were on James. The Florida State Seminoles started the year off against Mississippi, where James put up eight tackles and one interception in a victory.
The following week they battled Charleston Southern, where he left early in the second-half due to a torn meniscus. This resulted in him missing the rest of the season.
James returned in the 2017 season and was ready. He disregarded every scout concerned with his injury and had a productive year. He finished the season with 84 tackles, five-and-a-half tackles for a loss, one sack, and two interceptions with one resulting in a touchdown. James also had a team-high 11 pass deflections.
These stats equate to 186 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss, five-and-a-half sacks, three interceptions, and 15 pass deflections in his college career.
Derwin James Injury – What Does It Mean?
Before I cover the pros and cons of James, let’s investigate his injury. After leaving in the second half of the Charleston Southern game due to a torn meniscus, James missed the remainder of the 2016 season. He was ready to play in 2017, and made an impact. There was still some cautionary measures in his play, but the injury didn’t seem to affect him as he still put up some beast stats.
As most may know, NFL scouts take injuries very seriously and that can have an influence on where a player is drafted. An example is Myles Jack, a player who slid in the draft because of injury risks. This allowed the Jaguars to snag him in the second-round of the 2016 NFL Draft. While any injury with the word “torn” in it is scary, this is excusable, especially after his performance in his comeback year.
Pros and Cons of Derwin James
- A versatile player who can be used anywhere. Ex. Safety, nickel cornerback, box safety.
- Excellent block shedding ability.
- Quick off the line, great for designed blitz plays.
- All-around athlete.
- Perfect size.
- Aggressive hitter.
- Above average man-to-man coverage skills.
- Low pursuit, sometimes takes bad angles on a tackle.
- Reacts slowly on run plays when he isn’t blitzing.
- Drops potential interceptions.
- Needs an uptake in awareness, blows a lot of zone coverage.
2018 NFL Combine
James impressed during the combine, showing off his athleticism and why his injury shouldn’t affect his draft stock. Here’s how he performed via the NFL.
4.47 40-yard dash (7th among all safeties)
21 reps on the bench press (3rd among all safeties)
40” vertical jump (5th among all safeties)
11”0’ broad jump (3rd among all safeties)
Why He Fits the Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars have some solid safeties backing up Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, but solid won’t get the job done. Drafting a safety means the Jaguars would move on from Tashaun Gipson. James has his issues in coverage, but he gives enough reassurance if Ramsey or Bouye were to let one slip. He plays well as a box safety and would be a tremendous help in goal-line or short yardage scenarios.
Many will argue James wouldn’t be a good pick in the first-round for the Jaguars as they need another offensive lineman. However, after signing former Carolina Panthers guard Andrew Norwell and the depth at the position in the 2018 NFL Draft, it isn’t necessary to draft an offensive lineman right away. Acquiring James would continue feeding the beast, or as we know it, the Jaguars defense which has already molded and would only make it scarier. With his up-tempo style of play and aggressiveness, he’d fit right in with this top-ranked defense.