Derwin James makes a massive difference to the LA Chargers. James is essentially the quarterback of the defense and the Bolts are different when he is on the field vs. when he is off. Fans have seen that first hand while James was injured during the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
There is no denying that James is not only one of the most impactful defensive players in the league but is also one of the best safeties in the NFL. James was an All-Pro in his rookie season, after all, and arguably should have been an All-Pro again last season.
It is safe to say that the league respects Derwin James, although there are some outliers to that statement that obviously do not realize how talented the Chargers' safety is. ESPN's Jeremy Fowler continued his yearly tradition of polling NFL executives, players and coaches about who the top players in the league are at each position.
The list of safeties dropped on Saturday and Derwin James was ranked fourth, which might seem a bit low. The reason why? At least one (and it could be more than one) NFL exec ranked James outside of the top 10. That is right. Someone IN the NFL does not think Derwin James is a top-10 safety in the league.
Injuries is not a good enough reason to rank Chargers' Derwin James outside the top 10.
The only justification for saying that there are 10 safeties ranked ahead of Derwin James is his injury history and that is not even a fair argument. First of all, James was mostly healthy this past season for the Chargers and another healthy year will dispel the injury concerns.
Second, it is a bit ridiculous to rank someone who is undoubtedly one of the most talented at his position that low because of the risk of injury. Is it fair to move him down the list based on availability? Sure. But moving him all the way out of the top 10 is absurd.
All 32 franchises would take Derwin James over Jamal Adams, who was ranked 10th in this exercise, even with the injury concerns. To say otherwise is absurd and the only possible explanation is that it is a rival executive of the Chargers.
At the end of the day, it does not really matter what others think of James as Chargers fans know he is going to ball out and make a massive difference to this football team. However, it is just insane to think that someone in the league is so out of touch with the talent.