Derwin James sets benchmark for 2019 draft

Derwin James of the LA Chargers (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Derwin James of the LA Chargers (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

Derwin James set a high standard in his inaugural season. The Pro Bowl selection earned his stripes as a rookie, and he can now reset in preparation for a new intake of players, each with hopes of making their mark for the Los Angeles Chargers.

Derwin James sets benchmark for 2019 draft

The Chargers knew exactly what they were getting when they used their first-round pick to draft James. First-round draftees don’t always live up to their expectations, Sam Bradford, the 2010 first overall pick springs to mind. James has had a great insight to pro football, two playoff games were followed by a trip back to Central Florida for the Pro Bowl.

Haines City High School had a star on their roster.

When the time came, several colleges were interested in signing James, including Ohio State, Auburn and Clemson, but James was destined for Jimbo Fisher and Florida State.  Scouts noted James’ versatility and athleticism.

He had an outstanding freshman season with 91 tackles and 4.5 sacks. James suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee, missing much of his second season with the Seminoles. His combine prospect grade was 6.44 – ‘should be an instant starter’.

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The two-time All-ACC defender ran the 40-yard dash in 4.47 – an impressive time for an athlete weighing 215 pounds. Incidentally, New York Giants’ No.2 overall pick Saquon Barkley recorded a time of 4.40. Charles Kelly, a former Florida State defensive coordinator gave his take on James.

“I’ve told people, and it’s crazy, but he’s the only player I’ve ever coached in my entire career that I think could have started at all 11 positions on defense. That’s the truth.” via

Built to tackle

James’ pro football career started with a positive contribution, posting a sack in each of his first two games against Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen, respectively. Gus Bradley quite simply has a ‘go-to’ defender, able to rush the passer, create turnovers and be an all-around headache for the offense.

The Chargers’ first-round pick was clearly making an impression in the preseason. Gus Bradley spoke to the media ahead of the season opener, stating that his rookie defensive weapon wold be a Week 1 starter.

“There is going to be a learning curve. I think he’ll go out and make a mistake here and there, but he’ll also make some splash plays.” via

James’ defensive contribution was magnificent. He led the Chargers in tackles and was later acknowledged for an outstanding season with a starting role for the AFC all-star defense. Teammate Melvin Ingram also started the Pro Bowl. Both James and Ingram posted a sack against Dak Prescott and Russell Wilson, respectively.


Serving in the military gives you the ability to spot a leader. James carries himself with an authoritarian demeanor, confident and respectful of his position and peers.

The Chargers have a future franchise leader in their ranks. The official combine scouting report sums up James’ mental attributes.

“He is going to be the dude in any locker room he ends up in. That’s his makeup.”

We can learn much from a person’s social media profile. It’s refreshing to see a young athlete eager to learn, improve and make positive contributions on the field.

Didn’t end how we wanted to end but what season thank you for all the support boltgang⚡️ thank god for a healthy season WE WILL BE BACK TRUST ME , but back in the lab?I go #onlythebeginning #33rd ASAP 2019

— Derwin James Jr (@DerwinJames) January 14, 2019


So what for 2019, who will be receiving a call from Tom Telesco as the 28th overall pick? Several mock draft articles are circulating on the web, none seem to agree on who will be a Charger.

Bucky Brooks, writing for the NFL, has the Bolts drafting defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones out of Ohio State. The athletic Jones posted 8.5 sacks in 2018.

Whoever it may be, the Bolts’ first-round draft pick has got a tough act to follow. Can Telesco draft a player with similar traits to No.33? If so, 2019 could be very interesting.