Following his own blueprint that he used to build one of the league’s most ferocious defenses, Gus Bradley’s selection of Derwin James adds a lot of potential to an already fearsome, young defense.
In 2009, the Seattle Seahawks hired current Los Angeles Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley as their defensive coordinator. Bradley, as we know, would end up creating one of the league’s most feared secondaries, the Legion of Boom. The draft picks were crucial to building the nucleus that Seattle’s defense would revolve around. In 2010, Seattle selected Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor in the first and fifth rounds of that year’s draft. The 2011 and 2012 drafts saw the additions of K.J. Wright, Bobby Wagner, Richard Sherman, and Bruce Irvin.
Gus Bradley knows from prior experience that building a defense that reigns as the best in the league starts through the draft. I honestly think that the Chargers were shocked when Derwin James fell to them that late in the first round. Watching it live, it really seemed as if he was going to go to the Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills or Oakland Raiders before the Chargers pick. So great job on Tom Telesco for getting the absolute best value from that pick.
What makes James so special? Well, he personally reminds me a lot of a famous member of the Legion of Boom-Kam Chancellor. He has the football IQ of Chancellor with the potential to even have more versatility in terms of where he’s put in the secondary and who he’s covering. He’s incredibly athletic. One NFC Scout said, “He’s pretty looking. He’s got one of those body types where you could play him at about seven different positions. He looks most like a strong safety, but he’s got the frame to put weight on and be a linebacker, he could be a huge corner. He looks kind of like what Patrick Peterson was coming out. Just a great-looking frame.”
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What also makes me love the selection is the potential to create a great secondary. We all know how great Casey Hayward is. Desmond King is coming off an absolutely fantastic rookie year. Jahleel Addae played better last season. Adrian Phillips and Jaylen Watkins hold down the free safety position. Trevor Williams was one of the best corners in the league last year in the absence of Jason Verrett, and he’s still coming back.
With James drafted, I think the biggest areas of need for the Chargers include defensive tackle, linebacker, and maybe a pick or two to shore up the improving offensive line. If they can get that done, this might be the best I’ve ever felt about a Chargers team post-draft, in terms of actually having a complete team.
If everything goes as planned, you’ve got a fearsome defense brewing in L.A. I still do believe the Chargers need one good defensive tackle from this draft, preferably in the second or third rounds on Friday. They really need a defensive tackle that can plug holes in the line, seeing as though they were one of the worst run-stopping teams last year. But James is an absolute gift for the Chargers, landing about seven spots out from the top-10 pick he was projected to be.