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What the Pundits Have to Say about Derwin James

In Tom Telesco's first comments after selecting Derwin James with the 17th overall pick, the General Manager stressed how the team never expected the Florida State safety to be available when the Chargers were on the clock.

He wasn't alone.

Virtually no one thought James would slip out of the top 10 as scouts, pundits and draft experts considered him one of the top safety prospects in a number of years.

Here is what some of the biggest names in the industry had to say about him leading up to the draft:

ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr.

"James is rising because of how he tested at the combine, and there's a chance he's the first defensive back off the board. A 4.47 40 and 40-inch vertical showed off rare athleticism for a 6-2, 215-pound safety. On the field, James is a tough evaluation because he just hasn't played many games. The former five-star recruit was terrific as a freshman for the Seminoles in 2015, with 91 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. But he played only two games in 2016 after suffering a torn meniscus in his left knee. He came back healthy in 2017 and finished with two interceptions, 11 pass breakups and 84 total tackles. James can be a versatile defender who plays in the box and also covers the deep middle of the field."

ESPN's Todd McShay

"James has great range versus the run, closes in a flash and explodes through ball carriers. He misses the occasional tackle but has the athletic ability and length to make one-on-one plays in space. James is an elite talent who is highly likely to have a better pro career than a college one."

NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah

"James is a versatile talent with exceptional size, speed and physicality. He lined up all over the field for the Seminoles. He took snaps at both safety spots, nickel cornerback, sub-package linebacker and was asked to rush from the outside linebacker position on occasion during his collegiate career. In my opinion, he's more valuable when he plays closer to the line of scrimmage. He excels covering backs and tight ends and is a dynamic blitzer. When he lines up as the deep safety, he lacks ideal anticipation and needs to improve his angles to the alley in run support. He doesn't have a ton of ball production, but that will improve once he settles into a more defined role. When he's aligned in the box, he is quick to key/read against the run; he explodes to and through ball carriers. His lateral range is outstanding and he makes a lot of plays from the back side. To see his game speed, watch him run down Lamar Jackson in the Louisville contest. Overall, I see James as a box safety or weak-side linebacker at the next level."

NFL Network's Lance Zierlein

"Possesses the desired physical traits and mental makeup of an All-Pro safety who has the ability to not only set a tone but change the course of games. Although James is extremely athletic and talented, he still has room for improvement as a run defender and in coverage. James' talent is best utilized in an active, attacking capacity in a robber role or near the line of scrimmage where he can support the run, blitz and handle physical coverage responsibilities."

Pro Football Focus' Steve Palazzolo

"James has all of the tools to become a game-changing playmaker at the next level. His size and athleticism allow him to make plays in coverage, against the run and as a pass-rusher. All of James' skills led to him becoming the nation's top-graded safety in both 2015 and in 2017. He can be a coverage weapon in a two-high safety look or in man coverage against tight ends and slot receivers, while his size allows him to be a force in the run game and to get after the quarterback."

Experience Draft Day One in Arlington with exclusive photos of Bolts first-round pick, Derwin James. 

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