Widely considered one of the most talented and impactful defensive backs in Florida State history, Derwin James is ready to take on the NFL as an expected top-15 selection in the upcoming 2018 draft class.
SI.com’s MMQB dropped an updated big board on Tuesday, where James (6-foot-3, 215 pounds) is listed as the No. 8 overall prospect and the second safety behind Alabama star Minkah Fitzpatrick. Here’s what was written about the hard-hitting DB in the new rankings:
He was a relative disappointment after bursting onto the scene as a true freshman in 2015, but that might have had something to do with some tentativeness in his first year back from a torn ACL. The Seminoles asked James to play near the line of scrimmage more often last season, and he’s not a guy you’d line up in centerfield with regularity. But his versatility—he’s essentially another linebacker in the box, or can lock down tight ends and running backs in man coverage—make him the kind of defensive chess piece to counter what most NFL offenses are currently doing with hybrid pieces.
James busted into the college football scene early as a freshman, racking up Freshman All-American and third-team All-ACC after recording 91 tackles (9.5 for loss) 4.5 sacks, five pass break-ups, and two forced fumbles in just eight starts. Unfortunately, a left lateral meniscus tear suffered in the second week of the season put him on the sideline for nearly his entire sophomore year, but he bounced back in 2017 with 84 tackles (5.5 for loss) two interceptions and 11 pass break-ups.
Despite the team’s struggles — the Seminoles went 7-6 — James was able to secure second-team AP All-American and first-team All-ACC honors, setting him up to declare for the draft.
What exactly can NFL teams expect if they take a flyer on James? In short: the possibility of an annual All-Pro-caliber defender. NFL.com suggests his professional look-alike is five-time NFL pro-bowler Eric Berry, who is easily one of the best players in the league.
Per an NFC Scouting Director:
He is going to be the dude in any locker room he ends up in. That’s his makeup. Physically, he’s probably more talented than Jamal Adams but Adams was more consistent as a player. Derwin is still learning so he has a sky-high projection if his play can catch up to the talent.
The 2018 NFL Draft will begin on Thursday, April 26.
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