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Derwin James remains a top safety in the NFL despite injury woes

It should be a surprise, but it’s not.

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NFL: Los Angeles Chargers OTA Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Derwin James is special. Seriously. It doesn’t matter if it’s on the field or off of it, James brings an energy that intoxicating to those around him and there’s not a room he walks in that doesn’t light up.

Examples of his uniqueness don’t stray far from simply looking at his timeline as an NFL player. He becomes a First-Team All-Pro as a rookie and then plays just five games over the next two seasons. Despite that absurd reality, James is still being regarded as one of the best players at his position and is consistently brought up by NFL analysts as one of the most-exciting players in the entire league. Talk of his versatility never gets old.

This offseason, James is preparing to take the field for the first week one game since his rookie season. He’s expected to play a massive role within Brandon Staley’s defense and that’s just one of many reason’s people expect him to hit the ground running in 2021.

Pro Football Focus’ Sam Monson had the honors of topping off his publications rankings of the top-32 players at each position in the NFL and the Chargers have had their fair share of players littered throughout their lists. On this final ranking of the top-32 safeties in the NFL, you would have been a madman not to expect James ranking somewhere near the top, which is why I’m glad to say Monson ranked James as the sixth-best player at the safety position heading into the 2021 season.

“Had it not been for injury, James might be the best safety in the league, and football fans everywhere have their fingers crossed that the injury bug is finally behind him so we can see the kind of special player he can be. The Florida State product posted an overall PFF grade of 87.8 as a rookie, but he has played just 299 total snaps in the two seasons since.”

James landed right behind the Steelers’ Minkah Fiztpatrick and just ahead of the Jets’ Marcus Maye. The Broncos’ Justin Simmons earned the position’s top spot, followed by Harrison Smith of the Vikings and John Johnson III, the man whose role James will fill within Brandon Staley’s defense.

Chargers fans are going to be holding their breaths the until week one gets here and no one can blame them. If they had their way, James would be wrapped in bubble wrap and locked in a padded room until the team takes off for Washington to open the season. Unfortunately, that’s not the way James probably wants this offseason to go. He’s primed and ready to take on the rigors of the offseason and he’s in no way going to shy away from any competition between now and the start of the 2021 season.

Still, you might want to keep your fingers crossed.