Cowboys Draft Target: FSU DB Derwin James

The Dallas Cowboys have spent a ton of highly valued draft capital on their secondary in recent years. Last season they completely overhauled their cornerbacks, and just a few years ago they took a safety in the first round (Byron Jones).

Despite these moves they are still in the market for safety help. Byron Jones is one of the most underappreciated players on the Cowboys roster, but where the team is attempting to use him is simply incorrect.

He is not a box safety, and is clearly a liability in the box against the run. And yet, the Cowboys continue to throw him out there and hope for the best.

The Cowboys seem to want a Landon Collins-type safety on their defense. They want someone who can move around the defense and fulfill multiple roles. Someone who can come down in the box and defend the run, be used as a blitzer, and still be relatively effective in coverage.

Florida State safety Derwin James is exactly that player.

In my latest Slant Sports scouting report, I gave Derwin James a first round grade, and talked about why I value him so highly in this class. James played just about everywhere on the FSU defense, and was effective all over the place. His tape isn’t perfect, but his traits are off the charts.

nfldraft2018 derwin james 2

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“The pick attempt isn’t very good, and James easily avoids it. But his speed and athleticism are on full display here regardless. James catches up to the back on the wheel route, and shows off his ability to win at the catch point, coming away with the interception.”

Derwin James is at his best attacking the line of scrimmage and playing in the box. He is an instinctual player who reads, reacts, and attacks very well. At 6’3″ and 212 pounds, James is big enough to take on blockers and bring down bigger backs. This is something current Cowboys safety Byron Jones has struggled with.

nfldraft2018 derwin james 3

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Derwin James also excels as a blitzer. He is incredibly athletic and quick, and shows off elite burst through gaps as a blitzer. What separates James from other blitzing safeties, however, is how good he is as a traditional pass rusher, and in one on one situations. No, he’s not going to be rushing off the edge 20 times per game, but he can be used against running backs and tight ends who are kept in to block during passing situations.

Derwin James is one of my favorite defensive backs in the 2018 NFL Draft class. He is a “Swiss-Army Knife” type player who can be moved around a defense and make an impact from different spots. The Cowboys clearly want a big, physical, athletic safety who can play in the box, and Derwin James would fit that bill perfectly.

2018 NFL Draft: Scouting FSU DB Derwin James – Slant Sports

There used to be a time in sports where positions mattered. And they mattered a lot. In the NBA, 7’0″ guys played center: they played with their back to the basket offensively, and they were primarily used as rim protectors and rebounders. Now, 7’0″ players are on the wing, they’re taking the ball up the …

Check out my full scouting report on Derwin James to see more clips and scouting notes.

What do you think?

Kevin Brady

Written by Kevin Brady

Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and have been with ITS since 2016.


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