There was a lot of talk before the draft about what the Los Angeles Chargers would do with the 17th overall pick. Trade up? Trade down? Well, the team stayed put and selected safety Derwin James from Florida State.
“I have something to prove because 16 teams passed on me,” said James during a video conference call.
James was projected to be a top 10 player in the draft, but for the Chargers he luckily landed in their lap. The Bolts brass didn’t expect he was going to be there when they drafted him.
“We were prepared to take him if he was there when we picked, but we didn’t expect him to be there,” said general manager Tom Telesco. “We are excited to bring him in. The safety position in our defense, it requires a lot of different skills and traits. You have to be able to tackle like a linebacker and cover tight ends. We think Derwin (James) has a lot of those qualities.”
The 6’3” safety has been compared to Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor because of their build, but James is said to be more athletic. Gus Bradley was Chancellor’s defensive coordinator from 2010-2012, so he will know how to fit James in his defensive scheme the way he successfully did Chancellor.
“I know he is one of the best in the business,” said James about Bradley. James said he had spoken to former Florida State teammate and Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey about Bradley and his coaching method (Bradley drafted Ramsey when he was the Jags coach in 2016).
James suffered a torn meniscus in 2016, where he discussed how tough coming back from that injury was. He stated how he learned from it and how it helped him become a leader, which is something he was known for during his time as a Seminole.
The Chargers have been trying to find a long-term safety after former Charger, now Baltimore Raven, Eric Weddle departed after the 2015 season. In 2016, the team signed Dwight Lowery, but he only lasted one season. In 2017 the team signed Tre Boston, but after a one-year “prove it” deal Boston wanted more money than what the Chargers wanted to pay, which left a void that now the Chargers brass hopes James takes over.
Many analysts didn’t believe that James would be around at 17. The Chargers are hoping their steal on draft night turns into the Man of Steel on Sundays.