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NFL Draft prospect to know: Derwin James, Safety, Florida State

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Could Derwin James end up in the Big D?

NCAA Football: UL Monroe at Florida State Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Blogging The Boys will begin taking a look at some of the NFL Draft prospects that will be in the 2018 NFL Draft class. Some weeks, we will look at potential targets that will be within the Cowboys’ expected draft range. Others, we will highlight some of the elite members of the class.

Another week, another draft prospect to familiarize yourself with here at BTB!

We have mainly focused on defensive prospects because, you know, but last week we took a look at one of the most dynamic offensive players in the upcoming draft class. We have looked at nine defensive prospects — ranging from defensive tackle to cornerback — and three offensive prospects — two wide receivers and one offensive tackle. The Cowboys could opt to add a weapon to Dak Prescott’s disposal, but many believe that Dallas will ultimately look to continue building their defense.

To get caught up with all of our previous installments, make sure to scroll down to the bottom of this article for all of the reviews that we have done.

Derwin James — safety, Florida State Seminoles

6-foot-3
211
Redshirt Sophomore

NCAA Football: Chick-fil-A Kickoff-Alabama vs Florida State John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Before the 2017 college football season, FSU safety Derwin James was thought to be a sure-fire lock to be a top-five selection in the 2017 NFL Draft due to his ability to make an impact regardless of where he lines up on defense — defensive back, linebacker, and even defensive end! While James has not garnered the same amount of hype throughout the season, he is still among the best in his draft class. James is now expected to go in the middle of the first-round — potentially a steal for a team sitting with a pick in the teens.

Derwin James arrived to Florida as one of the best high school prospects in the nation. Ranked as the fifth best overall player in the 2015 recruiting class according to the 247Sports Composite, the Sunshine State native was expected to make an immediate impact in Tallahassee — and boy, did he ever.

As a true freshman, the young phenom safety played in twelve games for one of the best teams in the entire nation. James totaled impressive numbers across the board during his debut season on the collegiate level — making 91 total tackles — 52 of which were solo — and 9.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. If that isn’t impressive in itself, James also got to the quarterback multiple times, as he was credited with 4.5 sacks and three quarterback hurries. James also defended four passes and forced two fumbles, while also recovering two. He earned Freshman All-American honors, was named third-team All-ACC, and was even an honorable mention on CBS Sports’ All-American Team — as a true freshman. It was an incredible freshman campaign that all but made him a household name for college football fans in just one year.

James looked to be on his way to another star-studded season last year. As a sophomore, the Florida native got out to another strong start in 2016. In less than two games, James totaled 11 tackles and picked off a pass for the Seminoles; unfortunately though, James tore his lateral meniscus in the second game of the season — ending what appeared to be another brilliant season for the star defender. James made a full recovery in time for his third season.

Because of the knee injury, James was given a medical-redshirt and was awarded an additional year of eligibility. That doesn’t seem to matter too much though, as number 3 was always thought to be draft bound as soon as he had the opportunity to jump to the pros. In 2017, James has played wonderfully — despite a disappointing season for the Seminoles. The former five-star totaled 84 tackles, 5.5 TFLs, and even got to the quarterback once. The star safety added two interceptions — including a pick six — to go along with 11 passes defended.

The Seminoles defeated Louisiana Monroe to get to 6-6 and reach bowl eligibility, but James has elected to not play in the bowl game and to instead prepare for the NFL Draft — a move deemed to be a “smart decision” in the big picture.

In skipping Florida State’s bowl game, James is making a smart decision for his future. While the Independence Bowl gives the ’Noles a chance to earn their seventh win this season, it’s meaningless when compared to the goals at the beginning of the season, as well as his NFL future.

In recent years, we’ve seen examples of players participate in bowl games only to suffer injuries affecting their draft stock. The most famous example is Jaylon Smith, the Notre Dame linebacker thought to be a Top-10 lock who tore his ACL, LCL, and suffered nerve damage in his knee in the Fiesta Bowl, a non-playoff game. Although Smith went on to be a 2nd round pick by the Cowboys, it was a severe drop from his original projection.

With the freakish athlete already preparing for the draft, James will surely put up impressive numbers at the NFL Combine in the spring. SB Nation’s Dan Kadar expects the FSU playmaker to be off the board at 16 in his latest mock draft —one spot behind where the Cowboys would pick today.

16. Oakland Raiders - Derwin James, S, Florida State

This is another pick that continues to stick just because James is so good and we’re getting a little deep into the first round. He can be a utility player in the NFL, working at safety, linebacker and even as a blitzer.

Derwin James is a freakishly athletic safety that has the ability to play anywhere on the defensive side of the football. He has the IQ to make the right play, the ability to jump off of your television screen on any given play, and the talent to instantly improve a defense. How freakish is James? Well, it’s almost like he was made in a lab.

James is a chiseled 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, with strength and explosiveness that set him apart even in one of the most talented locker rooms in the country. He can bench press 450 pounds, and he's approached 600 on the squat rack. He's broad jumped 11 feet, 3 inches, which would have ranked him in the top five among more than 300 players at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine. You want speed? He was clocked at 4.49 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the Nike Opening coming out of high school.

Would the Cowboys like to add James to the mix of Jourdan Lewis, Chido Awuzie, and Xavier Woods in the secondary? I know I would.




Derwin James is simply one of the most unique talents in this entire draft. He might be the most talented of any player in the 2017 NFL Draft, so the Cowboys need to take a chance on him if he is still on the board when America’s Team makes its pick inside AT&T Stadium. What do you think, BTB?

*Gifs courtesy of Modell Highlights; stats gathered from sports-reference.com

Catch up with our previous installments below!

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Austin Bryant, DE Clemson

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Tarvarus McFadden, CB Florida State

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Martinas Rankin, OL Mississippi State

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Dre’Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Daron Payne, DT, Alabama

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Harold Landry, DE, Boston College