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Why Derwin James is the most indispensable defensive back in the NFL

Chargers Derwin James is finally ready to get back to work

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

After missing almost all of the last two years due to injury, the highly anticipated return of Derwin James is finally here ahead of the 2021 NFL season. He will now be entering his fourth season in the league, but unfortunately, he has only been able to play one full season so far. On the positive side, that one season was enough to cement himself as one of the top defensive players in the league. His elite versatility and unique skill set make him the most indispensable defensive back in the entire NFL.

Rookie Season

After being selected 17th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft by the Chargers, the 6’2 and 215-pound safety out of Florida State made an immediate impact. He quickly became not only one of the top rookies in his class, but one of the top defensive backs in the league. In fact, a strong case can be made that he is the best safety in the NFL. He filled the stat sheet for the defense of the Chargers and contributed in a wide variety of ways. He accounted for 105 tackles, 3 interceptions, 3.5 sacks, and 13 passes defended.

His efforts earned him a selection as a first-team All-Pro. Additionally, he received consideration for both Defensive Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year and was on the very shortlist of candidates for both awards. This was obviously an amazing season for James and the fact that it was his rookie season made it even more exciting. Expectations of the potential player he could turn into officially went through the roof, as they should.

Next Two Years

Unfortunately, James missed the majority of the 2019 season and the entire 2020 season due to injury. He was greatly missed by the Chargers for many reasons. Just as important as his contributions statistically and his ability to allow for a ton of creativity in defensive schemes, is his presence and leadership on the field. Along with Joey Bosa, James is the heart of their defense.

James is a player that the organization not only believes in but trusts as well. They want him to be a big part of the future of the Chargers. This was demonstrated in this past NFL Draft where James actually had a big influence on their selection. He told the team that he wanted them to draft CB Asante Samuel, also a Florida State Seminole like James, and they did exactly that.

2021 Season Outlook

Derwin James is finally healthy again and ready to get back on the field. As long as he can avoid another injury, he should once again have a monster season and get back to being the superstar he was back in 2018. He is still only 24 years old so there is no reason to believe that he can’t. The oddsmakers are very optimistic about his upcoming season as well because he is a top 8 betting favorite according to Draft Kings Sportsbook for both Comeback Player of the Year as well as Defensive Player of the Year.

His rookie season demonstrated that he is capable of doing it all defensively. His big frame makes him useful in the box for run support and his athleticism allows for him to be effective on the blitz as well. His physicality makes him great at jamming receivers at the line while his quickness allows him to be successful in man coverage. He is just as good matching up with tight ends as he is receivers. He has elite range and even better intelligence, which makes him one of the best in the league as a ball-hawking center fielder as well.

His unique skillset and rare versatility make him a truly one-of-a-kind player. He is an absolute luxury for the Chargers defense. Nobody is capable of doing what he does at the level he does it on, and that makes him the most indispensable defensive back in the NFL. Watch out for Derwin James.

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