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Who is Pro Football Focus' No. 1 Safety in the NFL?

Buzz 06.15

Derwin James, Jr., has been a game-changer since the minute he stepped onto the field as a rookie.

The Chargers safety, now entering his sixth year in the league, continued his high-level play in 2022 on the way to earning Second-Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors.

James does it all for the Chargers defense, whether it's on the field or in the locker room as a team captain, and recently received high praise from from Pro Football Focus.

No one brings more to the table as a safety than the Bolts star, who was tabbed as the league's No. 1 player at his position by PFF's Dalton Wasserman in his safety rankings.

Wasserman noted that James' ability to do just about everything on defense is what separates him from the rest of the league. He wrote:

James is the league's most dynamic playmaker at safety. There isn't a better combination of run defense (75.3 grade), coverage (74.5) and pass rush (90.9). His 77.6 overall grade ranked 13th among all qualified safeties in 2022. He racked up two interceptions, two forced fumbles and four sacks.

Take a look back at the best photos of Derwin James' 2022 campaign

According to PFF, James primarily spent his time in the box (356 snaps), but also lined up frequently at free safety (296 snaps) and slot corner (174 snaps) last season.

James also makes his impact felt near the line of scrimmage, where he played 65 snaps and finished with a career-high 4.0 sacks.

Wasserman offered that another big year from the Chargers safety could vault James into the discussion for some yearly hardware.

Wasserman wrote:

On any given day, the soon-to-be 27-year-old has the ability to be the best safety in football. If he has another performance similar to his rookie year (87.8 overall grade), he'll be in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation.

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