NFL Draft Prospect Breakdown: Derwin James

Other Breakdowns

Quenton Nelson – 93/100
Saquon Barkley
 – 92/100
Tremaine Edmunds – 89/100
Bradley Chubb – 89/100
Roquan Smith – 87/100
Minkah Fitzpatrick – 87/100
Harold Landry – 85/100
Rashaan Evans – 84/100
Will Hernandez – 84/100
Baker Mayfield – 84/100
Sam Darnold – 83/100
Josh Rosen – 83/100
Lamar Jackson – 82/100
Marcus Davenport – 82/100
Calvin Ridley – 81/100
Josh Allen – 77/100
Leighton Vander Esch – 77/100

Stats, Awards, and Accolades

james

*All Stats via sports-reference.com*

Class: Redshirt Sophomore
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 215 lbs
Awards & Accolades: USA Today High School All-American (2014), First-team All-American (2017), First-team All-ACC (2017)

Derwin James was injured in his sophomore year, but in his freshman and redshirt sophomore years, he was one of the best in the country. He racked up 175 tackles in those two years, including 15 tackles for loss as a safety. At the combine, James’ 4.47 40-yard dash at 215 pounds came in the 84 percentile among safeties, and his catch radius came in the 85th percentile. James is one of the rangiest defensive backs in this class.

For this NFL Draft prospect breakdown, I rewatched the big game against Clemson from this year, the 2016 game against Ole Miss (his final before being injured), as well as a random conference game against Syracuse from this year to fill in any gaps I missed from the other two. Clemson’s offense ranked 45th this year, Syracuse’s ranked 64th, and in 2016, Ole Miss’ offense ranked 13th. All those numbers are via Bill Connelly’s offensive rankings.

Pros

Relentless tackler
Big hitter
Can play man or zone
Confident
Great closing speed
Attacks ball in the air
Rangy
Handsy in coverage
Good hops
Plays aggressive
Long
Great hops
Brings injury
Team leader

Cons

Coverage is good, not great
Dropped many interceptions
Doesn’t fit as a free safety
Could get beat in man coverage when faced with a tough matchup
Was injured for most of his sophomore year.

Grades

Ball Skills – 8/10
Range – 10/10
Coverage – 9/10
Run Support – 10/10

Scheme Fits

Free Safety – 6.5/10
Strong Safety – 10/10

Overall Grade: 88/100

A reminder, this where I think he should go, not where he will go, these rankings also DO NOT take into account positional importance

90+ Superstar
85+ Elite Player (Top Ten)
80+ First Round Talent
77+ Second Round Talent
74+ Third Round Talent
66+ Third Day Talent (Rounds 4-7)

10/10 Rating – Best in the class or close to it
7.5/10 Rating – Average
5/10 Rating – Poor

Now, I never got around to doing a full scouting report on any of the defensive tackles from this class, but assuming Maurice Hurst and Vita Vea don’t wow me, Derwin James is likely to be a top-five player on my big board. James is one of my absolute favorites in this draft for a reason. He is rangy as can be, his arm length ranks in the 89th percentile among safeties, and his coverage is excellent. He also defends the run extremely well, and racks up a ton of assisted tackles coming down to help from his strong safety spot. James doesn’t rush the quarterback often, but when he does, he has great closing speed, and whenever James gets a ball carrier in space, he is a mean hitter. The former Florida State safety didn’t just excel in run support, but he was good in coverage as well. He plays decent over the top, although as I said, I would keep him at strong safety rather than move him to free.

Derwin James is one of my favorites in the draft and a likely top five pick on my board. Because of the expected run on quarterbacks that is likely to start off the draft, I would expect him to actually get picked more in the 6-15 range once the actual draft rolls around. My personal expected landing spot for James would be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who will pick seventh overall. If he falls past Tampa, expect Oakland at number ten or potentially Indianapolis or Denver in a trade down scenario to scoop him up.

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