Da Saturday Scout: Derwin James, S, FSU

| October 21st, 2017

Player: Derwin James, Safety, Florida State

Game: vs. Louisville, 11:00 AM CT


What They’re Saying

  • CBS’ Chris Trapasso on Oct. 10: “As usual, James was good against Miami, yet I’m not seeing the variety of game-altering plays this season he had in 2015. He was a true difference-maker as a freshman at all levels of the field. This year, not so much. James is a gargantuan safety prospect who runs like a slot cornerback, and when he’s rolling, he’s a tackling machine who also flies to the football in coverage.”
  • From USA Today: “I think he’s every bit as good as anybody we’ve ever played against,” Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said of the Seminoles safety, via the Orlando Sentinel. “This guy’s just a very aggressive player.”
  • Chad Reuter of NFL.com: “James in an enforcer, pure and simple. Everyone expected him to return to form after missing most of last season. James doesn’t appear to have lost any closing speed, and he’s certainly not afraid of contact. His length will help him play in the box on Sundays, likely in the hybrid linebacker/safety role that’s currently in vogue.”

I Think…

  • …the Bears will win too many games to pick James at their actual draft position. With that kind of athleticism, one has to believe he’ll blow minds in Indianapolis and be gone by the fifth pick.
  • …I haven’t seen many defensive backs look as comfortable as James rushing from the edge. Then I see his coverage skills and wonder, “Is this kid going to change the safety position in the NFL?”
  • …I love that he’s owning this disappointing FSU campaign. A Tomahawk Nation blog post featured James explaining he could have done more in their recent loss to North Carolina State. That kind of stand-up behavior in the face of adversity will delight NFL scouts.
  • …the Bears should avoid drafting anybody who has an injury history.

Why Watch This Week

As Clemson QB Kelly Bryant struggles with injuries and FSU struggles to win enough games to get bowl eligible, there’s a good chance Lamar Jackson and the Cardinals will be the most explosive, multidimensional offense James faces the rest of this season. Against a run/pass threat like Jackson, safeties have to be at their most disciplined and their most aggressive. Over-pursuit can lead to big plays down the field and staying back on your heels can lead to the mobile quarterback sprinting by you down the sideline. With some believing Jackson will play on Sundays (not quite sure if I’m one of them) this is the right quarterback to evaluate James against.

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