It’s not a pressing need in the first round of the NFL draft but safety Derwin James may be too good to pass up.
The Baltimore Ravens have spent the majority of free agency focusing on offense, and rightfully so. We all know the offensive woes the team went through last year. Bringing James Hurst back and adding two quality receivers in John Brown and Ryan Grant is a good start to fixing those issues. The roster is now a lot more balanced and the front office can focus on rounding out the roster.
A lot of the talk during the NFL draft has been on wide receivers or offensive tackles. However, there is one defensive player that is definitely worthy of the 16th pick. Derwin James is a safety out of Florida State and he is one of the elite prospects of this draft. At 6’3″, 215 lbs, James has the perfect size for a safety and he has great speed to go with it.
Derwin James is arguably the most complete player in this draft. He is a relentless tackler, and very strong in coverage. James is also a proven leader and was a strong voice in the locker room at Florida State. He has everything a team looks for in a safety. However, there is a reason he might be available when the Ravens pick. He didn’t have a great junior season, and he has a lot of injury issues.
Eric Weddle is a fan favorite and a good safety, but he’s also now 33 years old. I’m not suggesting cutting him but who better than for James to learn from that one of the better safeties the game has seen? That doesn’t mean James would be on the bench the whole season either. Baltimore really embraced the “dime” package last season, which is when six defensive backs are on the field (usually three safeties and three cornerbacks). James would fill in nicely at that third safety role and get plenty of snaps.
Fans want to see the team go offense in the first round. Guys like Calvin Ridley, Courtland Sutton, or Mike McGlinchey make a ton of sense for the team. Baltimore was solid on defense all year and adding players to the offense will balance the roster out. And while those players are all good, there are guys at their respective positions that will be available later in the draft, and there isn’t much of a drop-off.
Safety isn’t a need right now, but Derwin James is much too good of a talent to pass up. The mix of size, strength, and leadership is too intriguing. Not only would James contribute and make an impact immediately, but he would solidify the position for many years to come.