“With the 17th pick in the 2018 NFL draft, the Los Angeles Chargers select… Derwin James, Safety, Florida State.” What Roger Goodell should have said was, “With the 17th overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, the Los Angeles Chargers select… Oh lord… Derwin James… have fun NFL! Gotta go!”
It’s very hard to ignore the fact that one of the best secondaries in the league got what most think to be a top 10 pick in the draft. I, for one, thought he would not even make it out of the top 10. With that being said, the Chargers have made a pick that could very well solidify themselves as the top secondary in the league.
Bear Bryant once said, “Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships.” The Chargers have definitely taken that approach to building their team, but outside of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram the highlight of, “The Bolt Gang,” has to be the secondary.
This unit boasts some of the best corners in the league such as, Casey Hayward, Trevor Williams, Desmond King, Jason Verrett and even Craig Mager who is a good rotational guy. While we know Verrett is bound to get hurt, Mager becomes that much more important. When Hayward initially signed, not everyone knew what we were getting. Personally, I thought he would be a stud in the slot and a huge addition for the Chargers, but he has obviously proven that he is a stud… period. No ands, ifs or buts about it Hayward has completely proven himself to be one of, if not the best in the NFL.
The big question mark, however, would be Verrett. The injury-plagued corner has played in 25 regular season games out of 64 potential contests. That is not even half of what he could have competed in to make the Chargers better.
In fact, 29 games is almost two full seasons, three games shy. Fans can only hope he can turn it around and produce like he did in 2015, when not only did he play in 14 games, but also made the Pro Bowl. It’s obvious the kid can play, no one doubts that, it’s if he can stay healthy which remains the doubt. If he could stay healthy this year, NFL offenses will have a lot to worry about between him and Hayward… and King… and Williams… and Mager. We didn’t even get to the safeties yet.
It’s a great sign when a team such as the Chargers can boast one of the best secondaries in the league and not even mention their safeties. Which is pretty star-studded as well. With Jahleel Addae pretty much slated in on one side and the drafting of James, the starters look pretty set and in place. The depth is magical with Rayshawn Jenkins and Adrian Phillips. It consists of four guys that can all lay wood, and four guys that are all solid playmakers.
“But Joey, Derwin James hasn’t even played a game in the NFL yet! How do you know he will even be that good?” Watch the tape. The guy is a stud. How did he drop to 17 if he’s that good? The only thing I can really think of is a torn ACL and his experience is a little on the lower side.
Some other drawbacks are taking plays off here and there while also sometimes missing his chance to help over the top, resulting in big gains in the passing game. But Gus Bradley has had this type of player before and has turned him into a Pro Bowl safety. What James can add is a little bit of everything, especially attitude, which is what could really be missing on this team.
Derwin has enough swagger, and now with a chip on his shoulder, drive to be a premier safety in the league.
Is their a weak point? Yes, injuries. This unit doesn’t lack depth at all, but seasons in the past have told us that the Chargers have a tendency to go on freakish injury runs that will make our kicker lineup on Tyreek Hill, but outside of that they have guys to run with receivers and guys who can come up and help with the run game and make some tackles.
More from Bolt Beat
- LA Chargers: 3 early takeaways from 2021 minicamp thus far
- LA Chargers: Drue Tranquill takes a jab at Gus Bradley’s defense
- LA Chargers second-year players: Nothing to lose and a lot to gain
- LA Chargers: Why running back could be a big issue for the Bolts
- LA Chargers: Chris Rumph’s upside is Melvin Ingram-like, but better
The biggest question posed would be if James can aid the run game and help limit the damage there. If that proves to be the case, then I don’t see a lot of teams being better than this secondary, if any.
To name a few, the Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia Eagles, Jacksonville Jaguars and I am sure some guy named Bill will put something together in New England. While fans will wait and see how special this defense can actually be, I don’t think it is out of the question saying, “The Chargers can be the best secondary in the NFL.”
This year will be exciting for fans who love to see defense. Bolt up, cause you will be getting a display fit for a, “King,” wait… one that will put “Derwin’s Theory,” to the test… wait wait! I got it! They will certainly hit “Addae” long!