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Derwin James is already one of the NFL’s best

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NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Chargers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

When the Chargers miraculous landed in a position to draft Florida State safety Derwin James in the 2018 NFL Draft, they surprised all of us by doing one simple thing:

They didn’t screw it up.

That one measly moment has cultivated itself into a decision that could have the Chargers in possession of one of the best players at his position for the foreseeable future.

We’ve just gotten through the one quarter mark on the regular season calendar and James has already done his fair share of stuffing the stat sheet and impacting games when the team needs it the most.

Earlier this week, Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus released a article titled, “Chargers rookie safety Derwin James is everything we thought he was at Florida State.”

And how right Mr. Linsey is.

James was rated as the number five player on PFF’s big board prior to the draft, as well as the number one player at his position. His size and skill set allow him to line up at a plethora of positions and his snap count breakdown while in Tallahassee does a phenomenal job reflecting this notion.

By position, here is how Derwin lined up during his final year at Florida State:

  • Free safety - 292 snaps
  • In the box - 260
  • Slot corner - 188
  • On LOS/Edge defender - 69

Now here are his numbers through the first four games of 2018:

  • Free safety - 103
  • In the box - 80
  • Slot corner - 36
  • On LOS/Edge defender - 28

As you can probably see, it’s not much different from the way he has been used thus far. The thing that stands out most to me is that he is being used on the line of scrimmage at a much higher rate than he was in college. This is obviously due to the team’s lack of a pass rush from everywhere else but I expect this trend to continue as James has been extremely productive from this spot and currently leads the team in sacks with three through four games.

To shine some more light on his efficiency as a pass rusher, James has rushed the passer just 22 times so far. From those 22 rushes, James has recorded nine QB pressures. Of those nine pressures, James has four hurries, two hits, and 3 sacks. Add on his 26 total tackles and the interception he hauled in against Jared Goff and the Rams and you have a star in the making.

James current overall grade of 87.9 is the highest of any defensive rookie. It also happens to be the fourth-highest grade for all safeties in the entire NFL.

So buckle-up, everyone. It’s going to be a big year for #33.