You, me, and everyone else who has watched the Chargers play a football game over the last two seasons has probably come away with one specific fact:
Derwin James is pretty good at this football thing.
It’s blatantly obvious and if you don’t feel the same way, you might need to invest in some real estate over that rock you’ve been living under.
Per the latest article from Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski, James is one of nine players he’s tabbed as “on the verge of superstardom.” James joins other young ballers like Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray, new Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs, and Browns running back Nick Chubb.
“The Los Angeles Chargers changed how everyone views modern-day NFL defenders thanks to Derwin James,” Sobleski states. “The 2018 17th overall pick became a first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowler as a rookie because defensive coordinator Gus Bradley didn’t pigeonhole him into a specific position. The Chargers technically list James as a safety, but he can play as a sub-package linebacker, nickel corner, outside corner and can rush the passer, too.”
James certainly started, or helped start, the new wave of position-less defenders in the NFL. While some players were versatile beforehand, he really showed what can happen when you let a play-maker be a play-maker.
It’s really easy to see why Derwin James was a first-team All-Pro selection as a rookie. pic.twitter.com/Nl2LFhXfDH— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) May 25, 2019
Although they had a solid slot-corner prior to this season, the signing of Chris Harris Jr. allows Gus Bradley to be even more confident in keeping Derwin out of the slot to roam elsewhere. So now when the Chargers face teams with excellent tight ends, they can continue to keep Harris Jr. on them instead of needing to take James away from another potential spot to make a play.
“To be able to move around, just adding Chris, it lets me be more free,” James recently told Sports Illustrated’s Jason B. Hirschhorn.
Even after missing 10 games last season, James’ return to the line-up for the final six weeks was hard not to notice. On the very first defensive drive of the team’s week 13 matchup in Denver, James made a stop on third-down that put an emphatic end to the Broncos opening drive. It was an almost-perfect “Welcome back, Derwin” moment had they been able to pull out the victory in the end.