The LA Chargers have some true superstars on the roster. While the team's depth has been a sore spot in recent years, there is no denying that some of the best players in the sport have worn the powder blue over the last half-decade. One of those stars is safety Derwin James.
Taken with the 17th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, James made his presence known in the NFL right away with an All-Pro season. His versatility and athleticism made him a truly special safety that looked well on his way to clinching his spot as the best safety in the sport.
Injuries derailed that climb as James played just five games in 2019 and missed the entire 2020 season. However, he has since returned with two mostly-healthy seasons, turning in back-to-back Pro Bowl years in 2021 and 2022.
Most would agree that James is on the current Mount Rushmore of safeties but believe it or not, there are still some doubters. ESPN's Jeremy Fowler is currently releasing his yearly positional rankings where he polls NFL executives, coaches and scouts to rank the best players in the sport. James checked in as the second-highest-ranked safety despite there being an egregiously low ranking from someone that was polled.
NFL personnel ranks Chargers' Derwin James as the eighth-best safety in the NFL
That is right. There is at least one person in the league that thinks there are seven safeties better than James right now in the NFL. Thankfully, this painfully low ranking didn't hamper James' ranking too much but it is still absurd to think that there are seven guys better than James.
It is one thing to rank James fourth among safeties and quite frankly, that isn't egregious at all. While we here at Bolt Beat would rank him higher, there is a small contingent of safeties that have an argument to be ranked over James. Are there seven of those safeties? Absolutely not.
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Justin Simmons, and Budda Baker are the only three safeties that even have an argument to be made and of those three, Fitzpatrick is probably the only one that has a really good argument. That is why he ranked No. 1 ahead of James and the other two ranked directly below him.
Not everyone polled in this survey has a crazy opinion about James, though, as the Chargers safety did receive first-place votes as well. Heck, maybe if someone wasn't out of their mind and ranked him eighth he would've topped the list heading into 2023.