DB Derwin James, Florida St.**

6’2″ – 215 lbs. – 4.47

Had a highly productive freshman campaign, then missed the remainder of his sophomore season after tearing the meniscus in his left knee the following year. Rebounded to have an excellent redshirt sophomore season, then declared for the draft. Massive, long-limbed strong safety who really looks the part. Takes most of his snaps close to the line of scrimmage; usage is more like an outside linebacker than a safety. Even on the snaps which he takes from the slot or further off the line, he’s typically playing downhill, which is clearly his strength. Very aggressive, physical defender who can provide emotional leadership and help set the tone defensively. Exhibits speed and explosiveness in his movements, with impressive ability to diagnose plays and pursue ballcarriers as a sideline-to-sideline player. Looks very good flowing to the ball; doesn’t shy away from taking on blocks and has the power to jolt opponents. Uses his length and physicality to his advantage; has a wide tackling radius and uses reliable hit-and-wrap technique. Takes a lot of snaps off the edge as a pass-rusher and possesses the speed, explosiveness, and length to generate pressure and finish his rushes. The obvious question about his draft status is whether or not he will be able to handle the coverage responsibilities typically expected of a safety, or whether he will have to convert to linebacker at the pro level. Was only functioning as a typical high safety or working in the slot on a few snaps per game; also took some limited drops into zone coverage from the box. Doesn’t seem to have a great feel for route developments and gives up enough separation out of breaks to be thrown at when working in man coverage. Looks more comfortable in zone, especially when he is able to keep the play in front of him and read the quarterback’s eyes, given his explosiveness when planting and driving on a spot. Has some upside as a potential matchup for opposing tight ends, as he could potentially leverage his length and physicality to disrupt opposing releases at the line of scrimmage. Also has enough pure athleticism to stick with running backs on wheel routes out of the backfield. Looks bound to be one of the first defensive players chosen by virtue of his size, aggression, and physicality, although some elements of his game are difficult to evaluate because of his unorthodox collegiate role.

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