MFG: Safety – Derwin James
When most people see the acronym MFG they think of manufacturing or manufacturer, which is exactly what we all do when it comes to writing or talking about and giving our opinions on players. We manufacture our thoughts, ideas, feelings and opinions about said player, his talent, opportunity and possible outcomes of his career in this game we all love.
So, in my ongoing series called “The MFG”, I am going to manufacture my opinions on players broken down into 3 sections. M for Metrics where I’ll state all the numbers and stats; F for Film is where I watch several cutups, highlights and games for that player and tell you what I see; and lastly, G for Gut is going to be what my gut feeling on that player is and how it will project to the next level for our Devy and Dynasty purposes.
M – Metrics
James is currently listed on Florida State’s official site as 6’3” 211 lbs.
In the Beginning
Let’s start with some crazy numbers James put up in high school at a SPARQ event where he weighed in at 197 pounds. A 4.52 40-yard dash, a 4.32 shuttle run along with a 34.9” vertical. Now, let’s put those numbers in perspective relative to some players in the recent NFL draft. In that 40-yard dash range from 4.50 to 4.53 you are talking about guys like WR Josh Doctson 4.50, WR Braxton Miller 4.50, CB Vernon Hargreaves III 4.50 and WR Chris Moore 4.53. That shuttle time of 4.32 is in some pretty good company as well since it’s actually faster than the likes of WR Malcolm Mitchell 4.34, WR Tyler Boyd 4.35 and WR Sterling Shephard 4.35. James continues the standard in the vertical where he is right with guys such as WR Leonte Carroo, WR Kolby Listenbee, and WR Braxton Miller again who all had a vertical of 35”.
Now let’s remember all those numbers were from high school weighing less than 200 pounds and without all the training and dietary help and oversight all the big time college athletes get. I’d venture to say that James could easily be near 220+ going into his sophomore season and he’s likely faster, stronger and more explosive than even those numbers suggest. Another amazing number that can be attributed to James is the 405 lb. bench press he put up in his freshman year which can be seen on video all over YouTube, go check it out.
Breaking down the numbers
Now for some stats. As the consensus top defensive back in the nation, the five-star recruit quickly stepped into the starting lineup for an already very talented defense for the Seminoles. James finished 2nd on the team in tackles (91 including 52 solo), tackles for loss (9.5) and sacks (4.5). He also added 5 pass breakups, 2 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries. On the strength of those stats, James amassed the following honors in his freshman season. All-ACC Third Team (Media), All-American Honorable Mention (CBSSports.com), Freshman All-American (Sporting News, USA Today Sports, Campus Insider).
Coming into the 2016 season as a true sophomore James has already been named the Seminoles defensive MVP and Co-Team MVP following spring practices. He’s also a 2016 candidate for the All-America, Bednarik, Nagurski & Thorpe awards. All signs point to a very successful season for James who is already seen as the leader of the Seminole defense going into only his 2nd year on the field.
F – Film
Now, let’s see how all those numbers translate on the field. Right away you can see that James is not afraid of contact. He relishes it, even craves it, in the way he comes up to stop the run or make a play on a receiver to prevent the catch. Very good form tackler keeping his head up and wrapping his arms which in the highlight hit world we live in is refreshing to see. Great explosion to the ball, no hesitation. His pass rushing skills are some of the best I’ve seen in recent memory from a defensive back. In all the film I watched I never saw the guy he was covering or nearest to catch the ball, 0% completions. James either knocked it away, nearly intercepted it or separated man from ball with a jarring hit.
However, he also had no interceptions so there is room for improvement there. They will come, it’s only a matter of time. He’s a big play waiting to happen kind of a guy. Either a great tackle, big hit, forced fumble, pass breakup or sack. I simply can’t say enough about his pass rushing skills. He has great ability to use his hands like some of the elite pass rushers while having the speed and leverage to drop that shoulder and get around the edge. More importantly, when he gets there he finishes. I see everything a coach could ask for in a safety, hell, or a corner or linebacker or defensive end.
G – Gut
So lastly, my eyes have seen all those numbers and all that performance but what is my gut telling me? First off can we all agree that Florida State is back to national prominence in a huge way under Coach Jimbo Fisher? Yeah I’d say so with them churning out talent to the NFL by the truck load recently. You can count safety Derwin James as part of that haul very soon.
Pro Football Focus recently stated James “may be the best all-around defensive player in the nation heading into 2016”. He’s the next great Florida St. defender and he does it in a multitude of different ways. James has the agility and quickness to cover slot WR’s; the height, strength and leaping ability to cover any TE and also the burst, power and speed to run over or around opposing offensive tackles to get to the QB.
All of that on top of his normal safety duties, to which he can play deep ball-hawking type or drop down as that eighth man in the box, while taking on blockers and stopping the run as well as any LB. Derwin James is an offensive coordinator’s nightmare inducing defensive monster that can wreck any offensive play in so many ways.
How does that all translate to the NFL and affect how I think about him as a Devy IDP prospect? With the NFL having moved to such a pass oriented scheme I believe James could be in line to be that next great “hybrid” defender that is becoming so in vogue in the NFL. The likes of Deone Buchanon, Jonathan Cyprien, Calvin Pryor and Clayton Geathers are all within his possible outcomes and I for one believe his talent and ability can surpass them all. His pass rushing skills will make him an even more valuable weapon in the pass happy NFL because he truly can come down in the box or off the edge and get to the QB life few defensive backs I’ve ever seen. The only question then will be opportunity and scheme of the team he gets drafted by.
The Bottom Line
If you are in a league of any sort with IDP remember the name Derwin James. When your rookie IDP or Devy IDP draft comes around which Derwin James is a part of…don’t take a DE, a LB, CB or Safety, take all of those wrapped up into one. Take Derwin James as the first IDP off the board.
Thanks for reading. You can find me on Twitter @CoachKernzy.