Packers 2018 draft prospect profile: Florida State safety Derwin James

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 02: Derwin James
ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 02: Derwin James /

We spoke to Rick Serritella of NFL Draft Bible to learn more about potential Green Bay Packers first-round draft target, Florida State safety Derwin James. 

Similarly to many college football standouts that are hopeful to have a successful NFL career, James played his final game for the Seminoles on Dec. 2 and opted to not participate in the Independence Bowl against Southern Miss. 

James made an immediate impact and when he arrived in Tallahassee in 2015. Heading into his freshman season, he was the best-ranked high school safety in the class of 2015, according to ESPN.

The Florida native tallied 91 tackles, 4.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. His successful first year earned him All-ACC Third Team, All-American Honorable Mention and Freshman All-American. 

Unfortunately, his sophomore season ended much earlier than expected. The talented defensive back suffered a torn lateral meniscus, in the Seminoles’ second game against Charleston Southern.

In his final season and first year back after suffering the season-ending injury, James picked up exactly where he left off. He finished with 84 tackles, 11 pass deflections, two interceptions and a sack. But, he also re-injured his knee and missed two games because of it. 

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The athletic defensive back will certainly be a first-round pick, but their will be teams that are concerned with his injury history. 

I spoke to Rick Serritella of NFL Draft Bible to learn more about James’ NFL potential and how he would fit in with the Green Bay Packers. 

What are James’ strengths? 

“What a great chess piece for any defensive coordinator to work into his game plan, as James has the speed to cover receivers and ends but is also an impact player against the run, in addition to lining up at outside linebacker, playing the heralded ‘Star’ position in Tallahassee. He demonstrates the ability to play multiple positions at a very high level.”

What are James’ weaknesses? 

“The major concern surrounding James will be his left knee. He missed 11 games last year due to a torn meniscus. He underwent a procedure that involved sewing the cartilage back together and re-injured that same knee again this past season, forcing him to miss an additional two games. His long-term medical prognosis will be determined during medical checks at the NFL Combine.”

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Biggest concern with James? 

“This is a first-round talent who possesses a lot of the same similarities as Jabrill Peppers, who was selected with the 25th overall pick last year by the Cleveland Browns.”

How would James fit with the Green Bay Packers?

“James would project as an in the box safety who would be used in the same exact role that defensive coordinator Mike Pettine employed Jim Leonard when he was overseeing the New York Jets defense. He would be an exceptional compliment to pair with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix as the safety duo.”

Make sure to read Rick’s entire scouting report on Derwin James. 

Although the Packers used last year’s second-round pick on N.C State safety Josh Jones, don’t rule out the possibility of them drafting James.

Veteran Morgan Burnett is an impending free agent and if the Packers don’t re-sign the 29-year-old, there will be plenty of teams ready to offer him a big contract.

Burnett would be an excellent teacher for James and the rest of the young safeties currently on the roster.

As Rick Serritella pointed out, James possesses similar attributes to Jabrill Peppers, who didn’t live up to his hype in his rookie season.

Next: Packers: 12 players that need to go this offseason

James has huge upside, but injury concerns could play a factor in when he is taken in the first round.