Florida State’s produced some of the NFL’s best players over the recent years. Derwin James, one of the premier defensive players in the league, is one of the former Seminole players that kicked off his 2021 NFL season this past weekend.
Derwin James firmly planted himself as one of the league’s brightest young players. An All-Pro as a rookie, James has battled some injuries that have limited his time on the field. Sunday marked Derwin’s first game in 1 year, 8 months, and 14 days, and it was clear that he hasn’t missed a beat.
Pro Football Focus noticed Derwin’s strong season opener. According to their highly respected grading system, James finished the game with a 90.2 coverage grade which was the best of any defensive player in NFL in week 1.
The Florida native has always been a supremely gifted athlete, now he’s being used in a variety of ways in the Chargers defense. He finished second on the team with seven tackles while showing an overall 90.0 grade from PFF.
Head coach Brandon Stanley praised Derwin after the game, giving him a game ball for his performance.
“One guy has been through a lot the past two years," Staley said according to ChargersWire. "We all know what our record is with Derwin James. We all know what our record is without the guy. We all know what he means. Without this guy, this whole movie is different."
James played all 55 snaps of the game after missing the preseason. He said after the game he was happy to be back out there helping his team and playing ball again.
"Of course, it'll take those games to get my wind all the way back up," James said. "I didn't play in the preseason, and I haven't been out there as much, but I felt good. Being in my first game back felt like how I feel in practice. I put myself through the same stuff in practice. When I went out there, I felt the exact same. I was able to finish in the fourth quarter."
Expect the former Seminole to have a big year in 2021 as he regains his spot as one of the best players in the league regardless of position.