2018: Derwin James, S, LA Chargers
It seemed impossible back in 2018 that Derwin James would fall to the LA Chargers at the 17th overall pick. James was widely viewed to be a top-10 pick in that draft class but because of injury concerns he fell all the way to the Bolts at 17 and became a no-brainer selection for the team.
James instantly proved just how good he is in the NFL by putting together an All-Pro season in his rookie season while leading the Chargers to their first playoff berth since 2013. However, James was unable to build on that rookie season as the injury concerns caught back up to him. He played just five games over the next two years.
James was healthy in 2021 and did not miss a beat. I personally was considered with how he would return after essentially missing two years and it is like he never missed a snap. He was essentially the quarterback of the defense and while the defense struggled, you cannot put it on James.
The former All-Pro is now entering a huge year for his career as he is playing in the fifth year of his rookie contract. If James stays healthy and plays most of the games then there is no question that the Chargers will open the checkbook and sign him to an extension.
However, if James suffers yet another injury that results in him missing most of the season then it is going to be a really tough decision to make. He is absolutely worth the money when healthy, but right now, nobody can guarantee that he will stay healthy for a second year in a row.
Hopefully, James puts that narrative to bed just like Keenan Allen did and locks into a long-term deal with the LA Chargers.