With just 14 college games of experience, Derwin James is already regarded as one of the most talented defensive players in college football. But beyond his on-field ability, the Florida State redshirt sophomore is drawing impressive comparisons for his intangibles, as well.
In that regard, NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks likened James to two first-round picks from the 2017 NFL Draft.
"This is going to be a crazy combination, but I'm going to take two prospects from this draft we just finished. He has a mix of Jamal Adams and Reuben Foster in his game," Brooks said during this week's Move The Sticks podcast. "He plays with a nasty streak and temperament, but he is an outstanding leader. He is one of my favorites."
Foster, drafted No. 31 overall by the San Francisco 49ers, was known for big hits and a mean disposition as Alabama's starting middle linebacker. Adams, chosen No. 6 overall by the New York Jets, was a key presence in the LSU locker room, and one AFC secondary coach described Adams as "a culture changer."
It amounts to very high praise for James, who missed most of last season with a knee injury. As a true freshman in 2015, he made 91 tackles and 4.5 sacks for the Seminoles, making a name for himself in the FSU secondary despite the presence of an eventual No. 5 overall pick in Jalen Ramsey. He'll be a redshirt sophomore this fall.
"He's a grown man. One of the best specimens you'll see," Brooks said. "A guy that is 6-3, and an old-school safety. He's athletic, he can come down in the slot, he can blitz off the edge, and he can play the deep middle. He's a natural leader and an alpha dog."
James will make his much-anticipated return from injury on a big stage, as FSU faces Alabama in Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium to open the season on Sept. 2.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.