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NFL draft: Chargers take FSU’s Derwin James with No. 17 pick

Derwin James is the fifth FSU defensive back ever drafted in the top 20.
Former Florida State safety Derwin James (seen here in last year's opener against Alabama) was one of the top defensive players in the country, even during a somewhat disappointing season. [ MONICA HERNDON  |  Times ]
Former Florida State safety Derwin James (seen here in last year's opener against Alabama) was one of the top defensive players in the country, even during a somewhat disappointing season. [ MONICA HERNDON | Times ]
Published Apr. 27, 2018
Updated Apr. 27, 2018

Former Florida State safety Derwin James fell farther than expected Thursday in the first night of the NFL draft before being chosen by the Chargers with the No. 17 overall pick.

James became the fifth former Seminoles defensive back ever drafted in the top 20. The others were all successes: Jalen Ramsey was an All-Pro last year, Antonio Cromartie made four Pro Bowls, Terrell Buckley started 131 career games and Deion Sanders became a Hall of Famer.

In two-plus college seasons, the Haines City native established himself as one of the most talented and versatile players in the game. He recorded 186 tackles (12 for a loss) with three interceptions and 19 passes defended. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound athlete is viewed as a safety but moved around the field at FSU, lining up at cornerback, nickel cornerback, linebacker and edge rusher.

James was widely viewed as a potential Bucs target, but Tampa Bay went with Vita Vea, a defensive tackle from Washington. James kept falling, whether it was because of concerns about the knee injury that sidelined him in 2016, a dip in production during his final season or something else.

The Chargers, apparently, didn't care and snagged a player regarded as one of the biggest talents of the draft.

"I'm happy the Chargers came and got me…" James told Sanders on the NFL Network. "I'm coming in, I've got something to prove."