The Florida State product owns all the traits of a future Pro Bowl-caliber safety. At 6-foot-2, 215-pounds, James owns the size to move towards the line of scrimmage with ferocity. He also is athletic enough to cover the deep third of the field. James earned second-team All-America honors in 2017, leading FSU with a team-high 49 tackles, and added 13 pass breakups, three sacks, and two interceptions.
James also bring leadership to an already rock-solid Chargers defense.
"He is going to be the dude in any locker room he ends up in," an NFC Scouting Director told NFL Media Draft Analyst Lance Zierlein. "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."
Projected as a possible top-10 pick, James slipping to the Chargers at No. 17 continued an offseason in which teams mostly ignored the safety position. L.A. will gladly be the beneficiary.
With Tre Boston still a free agent, the Chargers needed to add a safety. Plugging a playmaker like James in that spot as the best-case scenario and helps L.A. solidify a sneaky great defense that has playmakers at every level: Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram rushing the passer, Denzel Perryman cleaning up the middle, and Casey Hayward and Jason Verrett locking down the outside. James is the latest piece of a Chargers team that should contend for the AFC West crown in 2018.