Could this really be just the tip of the iceberg?
It's hard to believe Derwin James can play at a higher level than he did in 2018, earning First-Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors with an epic season. The safety led the Chargers with 109 total tackles, becoming the first rookie to hit the century mark in team history. James also paced Bolts with 15 passes defensed and tied for the team-lead with three sacks. He also proved to be a menace rushing the passer, registering three sacks while forcing countless pressures.
"D.J.'s a versatile athlete," Head Coach Anthony Lynn said. "We use D.J. a lot of ways. He's in the box as a linebacker. He's a strong safety. He's a free safety. He's a rusher. We were very fortunate the get him. He fell into our lap last year. You just never know. That's why you have to go into this situation and evaluate everyone because on draft day you just don't know how things are going to work out. D.J. came to us last year."
It should come as no surprise then that James has been the talk of the NFL Combine with pundits wondering who will be the next to follow in his footsteps.
However, when asked point blank if the safety can improve, Lynn quickly answered in the affirmative.
"Absolutely," he said matter-of-factly. "He was a rookie last year. There's so much room for development with D.J. No doubt about it. He was more outspoken at the end of the season. I think his leadership is going to take another step this year with our football team, which we need. He can get better, for sure."
As Lynn briefly mentioned, leadership is a big part of James' game. While everyone sees him dominate on the field, few witness what he's like on the sideline and in the locker room.
They'd be blown away if they did as he's a passionate motivator with an undying desire to win.
"He's a dynamic leader," Lynn said. "He loves football. He's passionate about what he does. His teammates, they feel that and sense that about him. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he was a captain this year."