Chargers grab vaunted safety Derwin James in 1st round of NFL draft

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When Derwin James slipped in the first round of the NFL draft, the Los Angeles Chargers pounced. (KABC)

Entering the NFL draft, the Chargers had a several needs at linebacker, offensive line and a future replacement for quarterback Philip Rivers, who will be entering his 15th season.

But true to their word, the Chargers chose the best available player with the 17th overall pick -- Florida State safety Derwin James.

James, a 6-foot-2-inch, 215-pound versatile safety, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds at the NFL combine. Scouts say he possesses the desired physical traits and mental makeup of an All-Pro safety who has the ability to not only set a tone but change the course of games.


His talent is best utilized in an active, attacking capacity near the line of scrimmage where he can support the run, blitz and handle physical coverage responsibilities.

"Oftentimes (executives) say that we didn't think he was going to be there," Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said. "We hear that all the time. I hate hearing that. But honestly, this one, we did not expect him to be there at our pick. We were prepared to take him if he was, but we did not think he would be there. So suffice to say we were very excited to bring him in."

James spent a bit longer than expected waiting for his name to be called at the draft in Texas. The hard-hitting former Seminoles star acknowledged he was annoyed when several teams filled other needs instead of grabbing him.

"It was a crazy feeling," James said. "It was like a roller coaster in there, but it was great having my family in there with me. I'm excited that LA came and got me."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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