As a redshirt freshman in 2015, Florida State safety Derwin James looked like a man among boys. I’ll say that again….as a redshirt freshman in 2015, Florida State safety Derwin James looked like a man among boys. His blend of size, speed, muscle, and power presence filled up the stat sheet week in, week out. He was all over the field, chasing down ball carriers from sideline to sideline and making it known they may want to go to the ground or run of out bounds before he got there. Whatever the role was, you name it, he was able to perform it a high level. Outside pass rusher, deep centerfield coverage, inside linebacker, he did it all. However a knee injury forced him to miss most of 2016 and the first real wart on his scouting report showed up. He had this past season to prove the goods were still there.
What He Does Well:
James is a physical marvel. He checks all the boxes when it comes to what a prototypical strong safety needs. Hits with the presence of a power inside linebacker, can burst off the edge like a top tier edge rusher, and has the long speed to stick with anyone downfield. The Seminoles used him in almost every role imaginable other than defensive tackle. The hybrid-ness he brings to the table can be a major factor in any 3rd down situation, as the versatility can pose as a matchup problem to any player. He understands situational football, plays very aware and will make quick decisions. He trusts his instincts.
Where He Needs Work:
Has a tendency to lose control of his body in tight areas. Misses too many tackles, needs to break down/slow down instead of playing like a missile. Too big-play dependent. Play to play impact isn’t positive as often as it should be. Shows some stiffness in man coverage, high hipped and doesn’t carry over his athletic prowess to defending the pass. Inconsistent performer, will disappear for long stretches.