Draft Prospect Outlook:
Swiss-army knife at the second and third level of the defense. Probably best in the strong safety type role although he does have the burst to range from center field to make plays near the boundary. Can be high-volume tackler in NFL. Effective blitzer. Should be a top 10 pick.
Derwin James got a tattoo of FSU’s logo on his left arm years before enrolling at the university and cemented his status as one of the most balanced, athletic defensive backs to come through the program. As the No. 5 ranked player in the 247Sports Composite for Class of 2015, James lived up to the hype as a true freshman by producing 91 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 5 PBU, 2 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries in just 8 starts.
Lofty expectations were placed on James and FSU’s defense entering the 2016 season, but a torn meniscus two games into the year sidelined him for the remainder of the campaign. James returned to action this past year and performed as arguably the top safety in the country after dealing with some rust, totaling 84 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions, 11 PBU, and a sack. In addition to working as a deep safety, James has shown comfort rushing the passer as a pseudo defensive end, lining up in the slot or playing linebacker. He was one of the nation’s most versatile defenders in his two healthy seasons. James declared for the 2018 NFL Draft and skipped FSU’s contest in the Walk-On’s Independence Bowl versus Southern Miss in order to start preparing for his pro career. - Brendan Sonnone, Noles247