In the 2016 college football season Florida State University safety Derwin James injured himself and had to have surgery to repair a torn meniscus. You could tell at the beginning of 2017 that injury was still bothering him and hindering his play. By the time the end of the year rolled around though, James was back to his dominant ways, and he was a great player for that Florida State defense.
James is a player who is able to completely change the identity of a defense with his ability to match up with opponents one-on-one, and his physical presence in the run game. He would finally bring the ability to match up against receiving backs and tight ends to the Bengals defense and immediately help in the run game. He wouldn’t help the Bengals force turnovers on deep passes as playing as the single high safety is not his strong suit, but as a box safety he would be a huge help to the Bengals. Plus having him in the box really opens up his versatility.
But, will he make it to pick No. 21? It doesn’t seem likely, but that’s not stopping us from scouting the talented playmaker. Check out the video above to learn more about James.
School: Florida State
Weight: 215 pounds
Arm Length: 33”
Hands: 9 1/2”
40-yard dash: 4.47 seconds
Bench press: 21 reps
Vertical jump: 40”
Broad jump: 11’
When the Bengals were picking at 12 they were picking at a very reasonable spot for James to end up going, however after the Buffalo trade it is tough to envision him falling to Cincinnati with teams like the Packers and Cowboys picking ahead of them. This means the Bengals would either have to get lucky with him falling to them or make a move to draft him. For such a rare player, that kind of move would not be crazy, and James is certainly worth it depending on what it costs. But, with the Bengals it’s simply unlikely that happens. The team has traded up four times in its history and never in the first round.
Either way, James will be an instant upgrade for whatever team drafts him. If he came to the Bengals, it would be up to Teryl Austin to figure out how to deploy him, which may be tough especially if the team keeps starting safeties Shawn Williams and George Iloka, who are both under contract through 2020.