The Derwin James Speculation

April 13th, 2018

Bad fit?

Joe is torn on this.

Joe is seeing a lot of guessing from national pundits that the Bucs will pass on Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson for Florida State safety Derwin James in the first round of the draft later this month.

Joe is spooked on several levels. By many accounts, James did not have a great season last year with Florida State after returning from knee surgery.

Was it that he may never be the same player or is this just an example of, like Darrelle Revis, James needed a full calendar year to properly recover?

(Column intermission: Joe recently saw a photo floating through Twitter of Lovie Smith and Hue Jackson as keynote speakers at an Illinois high school coaches convention. Dear God, what could these innocent coaches have done to deserve this? What could they have possibly learned? How to run off perfectly good starters? How to sign a total stiff of a left tackle who has since been out of football entirely after the Bucs told him to get lost before the season was over? How to target and sign a defensive end who, after arriving in Florida, got homesick for northern Kentucky? How not to cover slant passes? How to chase away quality assistants? How to build a 1-31 team? If Joe was an unsuspecting high school coach in Illinois attending this event, he would have canceled payment on the check if those two guys were the primary speakers. Joe would have also filed a grievance with the Better Business Bureau. If any high school covered the costs of its coach(es) to attend, given how broke the Land of Lincoln is and how higher institutes of learning there are struggling to stay open, there should be a state investigation launched for misappropriated funds. The nerve to have these two guys show their faces at a coaches convention and charge hard-earned cash to listen to them is beyond the pale!)

That isn’t the lone question about James.

His allure, to hear football folks, is that the guy can play all over the field. That’s great but here is where the screeching wheels of the brakes fill Joe’s ears: So we are to expect Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith to properly put James in various positions depending on down-and-distance and match-ups? Yet Smith couldn’t figure out a way to put Brent Grimes on Julio Jones?

To be fair, the Bucs did a nice job (so far) developing Justin Evans, a second-round pick from last year. But picking a safety in the second round last year, does that mean the Bucs should reach for a safety at No. 7 this year?

Yes, Joe has written he expects Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht to add to his roster of safeties. Three were added last year, two of which are gone (D.J. Ward and J.J. Wilcox). If Licht wasn’t satisfied with his safeties then, he very likely isn’t now.

Joe isn’t fully against drafting James and hey, he may turn out to be a beast. But legitimate concerns hover over the Bucs potentially selecting him.

Joe would still rather the Bucs trade down, provided Bradley Chubb and Saquon Barkley are off the board.

78 Responses to “The Derwin James Speculation”

  1. Gobucs Says:

    And cue the FSU homers

    “He’s the best ever for sure hall of famer”

    “Greatest player in the history of sports”

    Not worth the 7th pick at all.

    No way Jose.

    Pass pass pass.

  2. Jeagan1999 Says:

    If Barkley, Chubb and Nelson are gone… down. There will definitely be a QB needy team, looking to trade up into the top 10, willing to pay us a couple of 2nd and/or 3rd round picks to move up. We can then use those extra picks to address several spots we could use an infusion of young talent in.

  3. SB Says:

    Only 3 ints and 15 passes defended in three years. Pass.

  4. Guzziep Says:

    Ignoring the secondary in the first 2 rounds will be 2018 downfall, hopefully Barkley and Nelson are both gone, it’ll be a blessing in disguise, taking James, Fitzpatrick or Ward, then picking the best CB or S available in the 2nd would make our team better, drafting a guard isn’t going to take us over the top, you always say how this coaching staff can’t develop CBs, they haven’t had the talent like Ward, Alexander, Hughes, Jackson or Oliver, VH3 wasn’t the coaches fault he’s just small and 4.5 for a CB is average

  5. Bucsfanman Says:

    He’s gotten so much love. I don’t know, he barely stood out on a Horrible FSU team. Later in the draft, maybe. #7 for a safety? H#ll no!

  6. OneBucPerson Says:

    Last time we drafted a safety that high we got burned for it, I’d much rather take an offensive lineman or cornerback if Chubb isn’t there and James is.

  7. BucTrooper Says:

    I would love for the Bucs to have him. But he’s a reach at 7. I said it when the Bucs drafted Mark Barron : unless he becomes Ronnie Lott, it’s a wasted pick. Same applies here.

  8. jmarkbuc Says:

    “To be fair, the Bucs did a nice job (so far) developing Justin Evans, a second-round pick from last year.”

    who are you and what have you done with our Joe? 🙂

  9. Jolly Bucs Fan Says:

    Im liking Armani Watts in rd 4 to pair up with Evans. They have existing chemistry as well.

  10. Kobe Faker Says:

    Justin Evans is a BUST

    Kid cant tackle worth a lick….actually embarassing

  11. R.O. Says:

    Your repeated Logic in this aspect is so offbase and flawed. So we pass on Consensus Top Tier DB Talent because you have concerns over coaching? So we should reach for a player who doesn’t grade out a Top 10 player. You make ZERO sense.

  12. NJBucsFan Says:

    There are other S options on the market. Nothing is on the market in terms of RB, G, DE, or CB.

  13. Tom S. Says:

    You don’t draft a safety with the 7th overall pick unless they are Sean Taylor type of prospect. And even then Sean Taylor who was taken 5th overall had an incredible college career at one of the peaks of Miami Football.

    Derwin James played for a 6-6 FSU team before sitting out the bowl game for draft considerations.

    The only HOF thing about James so far has been his hype and combine.

  14. Defense Rules Says:

    JMarkBuc … “who are you and what have you done with our Joe? 🙂 Awesome!

    Far as Derwin James goes, I put this into the same category as us drafting Hughes. Ain’t gonna happen. No way, no how. There are a number of players who I’d be willing to reach for at #7 (Vea, Fitzpatrick, Ward, Hernandez, Wynn, Guice, Michel & several more) if Barkley, Chubb & Nelson are off the board. I don’t see James as being the type of player who could make a difference on the field as much as any of them could. Would he be a good pickup? Definitely … in the 2nd Rnd (IF one of the others wasn’t available & IF we had an extra 2nd Rnd pick from trading down or UP).

  15. BucFamous Says:

    You don’t need FSU homers to come on here and push the Bucs drafting James at 7—it’s being said all over the internet. Many people have the Bucs taking him at 7, most have him going in the top 12, and some have him going as early as 4-5.

    James had a down season, but most Noles who pay attention would attribute that to a combination of recovering from an injury and the fact that the defensive staff was completely incompetent (especially his position coach) and couldn’t put a plan together to save their lives.

    I’d be fine taking James at 7, assuming Barkley isn’t available, and I’d ABSOLUTELY rather have James than Fitzpatrick any day and twice on Sunday.

  16. Pickgrin Says:

    Wow – not much Derwin James love on this thread.

    Hate to tell this to whoever hates the idea – but if the “Big 3” are off the board and no decent trade down offers develop – James is the next highest overall rated player on the Bucs Big Board.

    The Bucs see James as a much “safer” pick than Ward at #7 and also feel that James is a better fit for our needs than Minkah. I happen to agree on both counts.

    So there’s that. Just sayin…

  17. cgmaster Says:

    Don’t bother Bucfamous, the anti- Nole crowd is always strong and stupid. They said the same thing about Jameis, Jalen Ramsey, and Dalvin Cook. Heaven forbid that someone that played for FSU actually be really good. If the big three are all gone and we can’t trade back, I’m all for taking James at 7.

  18. Rod Munch Says:

    Lovie had a top 10 defense with less talent than Mike Smith had, yet Smith managed to finish 32nd defense for the first time in the long pitiful history of the team.

  19. Wausa Says:

    Amen cgmaster!

    I am convinced Derwin James will be an elite level prospect in the NFL.
    Here is what an NFC Scouting Director had to say about Derwin James:

    “He is going to be the dude in any locker room he ends up in. That’s his makeup. Physically, he’s probably more talented than Jamal Adams but Adams was more consistent as a player. Derwin is still learning so he has a sky-high projection if his play can catch up to the talent.” — NFC Scouting Director

  20. Rod Munch Says:

    Ramsey was a special talent who could move to corner and excel, he was as sure of a homerun pick as there was. This guy is not Ramsey from everything I’ve seen and read about him. Yes, Chris Conte is absolutely terrible, the worst starting safety in football. However Ryan Smith is the worst corner I’ve ever seen in my life, ever, at any level. The Bucs didn’t sign anyone to start day 1 and have put it all on the draft, and I think that means the Bucs have to take a day one starting corner and pray they can step it up and not get hurt.

  21. Birdman Says:

    We get you are miffed the Bucs’ only moved on from one coach, but the idea that the Bucs not firing someone procludes them from drafting any defensive talent is tired. It’s not all X’s and O’s, soemtimes it’s Jimmys and Joes.

  22. bculaw Says:

    Love the side bar on Lovie, Joe! Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    As an FSU homer, I can’t believe that I will say this, but the Bucs would be better served looking elsewhere at #7. I love James and think that he could bring a special mentality to the secondary, but he’s not the “need” pick there. If Nelson is there, solidify the O-line and finish the offense by adding a RB in Round 2 (preferably Chubb or Michel). You still want toughness and attitude in the secondary at the safety position – add Shaquem Griffin in Round 4 and watch him flourish next to Evans. Lightning and thunder in the safety room! Speed, toughness, and a never die attitude if any player has ever had one!

  23. Pickgrin Says:

    NOBODY is advocating for James over Nelson if both are on the board btw…

  24. BucFanFromOH Says:


    I could be wrong, but I thought Shaquem Griffin was a LB?

  25. Eric Says:

    I am an FSU homer and am against drafting James that high.

    He did not have a good year last season, so its too big a risk that he will recover fully and whatnot.

    This FSU homer was also against drafting the kicker who shall remain nameless.

  26. Kobe Faker Says:

    “There wouldnt be any talk whatsoever of either saftey position if Justin Evans was any good….the love affair of this mis tackling dummy shows the lack of football IQ of this Bucsheep nation fans…Justin Evans is the Milli vanilli of the defense”

    Kobe Faker

    ***Kobe Faker was the the first and only elevator that during the 2016 season that claimed the Tampa 2016 draft class was the worst draft in the history of this inept franchise…Kobe player Evaluations are impeccable and without blemish

  27. BucFanFromOH Says:

    lol…. he said elevator

  28. Kobe Faker Says:

    “Elevator or evaluator…same thing….Lakeland > Ohio”

    Kobe Faker

  29. 813bucboi Says:


    I agree….watts is looking nice…..

    #NOEXCUSESIN2018!!!!…GO BUCS!!!!

  30. NFLRealist Says:

    We all can agree that Kobe Faker is an impeccable elevator. Floor 3 light always glows bright. Can never miss it.

  31. webster Says:

    @ rod

    Lovie’s defense was 26th for points against and they allowed 70% completion FOR THE YEAR. I wouldnt exactly call that a top 10 defense.

  32. StPeteBucsFan Says:

    No DB’s in the first round this year…unless it’s a second pick gathered from a trade down….certainly not #7…If we’re going to take that kind of flyer at 7 let’s just try and find another DL…whether’s it’s Vea or whoever.

  33. Wausa Says:

    Derwin would be a great addition to the Bucs, but if one of the big three is still there at 7 we have to take one of them.

  34. BucFanFromOH Says:

    IF exists (1 of big 3)
    Select available big 3
    Trade down (if possible)
    Select Derwin James
    END IF

  35. P’cola Buc Says:

    Good improvement so far during this off season for the Bucs. Still dreaming the dream of Barkley dropping to us. Without a running game our passing game is more limited and our defense will be exhausted and not playing to their new potential.

  36. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Not happening…..the only way we draft James is if the big three are gone and we don’t get an acceptable trade offer……period.

  37. Costa Rica John Says:

    Vita Vea will be there at 7… We should look at adding him before a safety if the big three are gone. You build the trenches first. There will be some cornerbacks and safeties released from teams before the season begins. They may prove to be upgrades.

  38. firethecannons Says:


  39. KJ Says:

    I am a Florida State graduate and love the football team as much as anybody. Religiously follow them. But I will be the first to admit that Derwin is completely overrated. If games were decided by bench presses and high jumps – then this guy would dominate. Unfortunately, on the actual field of play, he was mostly completely invisible for 3 seasons (2 really with the injury). If we’re taking a safety that high, I want Ed Reed or Polamalu or Earl Thomas. A true playmaker.

  40. FsuGuru Says:

    Derwin James will be better than Chubb or Barkley and will be ELITE just like Nelson for 10yrs++… Hands down a steal drafting either James or Nelson at #7.

  41. Steve in Mad Beach Says:

    I seriously hope that they don’t draft a safety at #7.

    I’ve stopped looking at mock drafts because it’s depressing to see James to the Bucs

  42. Joe Says:

    Love the side bar on Lovie, Joe! Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    Gracias. 🙂

  43. gambelero Says:

    I’m an FSU homer and I think we’d be crazy to draft James at 7–over Nelson even more so. A lot of people on this board are math-challenged. If 4 QBs go, then the big three are there. We’re getting one of Chubb, Barkley or Nelson. Right now it looks like 80% chance of Barkley being left to us. Indy is salivating over Nelson; Elway is too smart to pass on Chubb.

    As for James, he doesn’t process schemes and assignments well. He’s a free lancer, kind of like the honey badger. Other teams are talking about using him as an interior linebacker. Imagine the drop he could get on a third and long cover-2 set. A coordinator that would move him around– edge rush, linebacker, safety, between the tackles run blitz–would get good use out of him. In a static system where his job is to cover this TE, cover high in cover-2 or cover 3 or read this key go this way/read that key go that, he’s not going to do very well.

    He’s definitely not a 7. And like Pickgrin says, “No one is suggested that he’ll be picked over one of the big 3. If the big three are gone, that means one of the big four QBs is still there. That’s the way math works. Picking 7th means only six players can be picked ahead of you. I’d love a fleecing tradedown opportunity, but you guys need to go ahead and print up a jersey for Barkley. I’m Chubb, Nelson, Barkley in terms of preference, but the Buffalo scenario 12, 22 and lowest 3rd or fourth, the NE scenario where we get five picks in the first two rounds or the Miami scenario their 1, 2, 3 and a sweetener all work even better.

  44. Horse Liver Says:

    Not in a million universes. If Nelson is there, and the Bucs really want James (cough cough) Licht will force the Bears to swap picks with the Bucs for extra draft loot. James is only a Buc if the Bucs trade down, or if Denver reaches for him at #5 which some idiot talking heads have actually proposed.

  45. JimmyJack Says:

    If D.James is Lichts guy Im all for it. He is not getting as much publicity as the big three but history proves that pre-draft hype means next to nothing.

    Makes you wonder what the Bucs board looks like inside the war room. The “big 3” in this draft don’t mean much if that’s not Lichts Top 3.

    I’m sure it’s pretty close but maybe James is one of their top 3, or Ward or Fitzpatrick or somebody else.

  46. mog2010 Says:

    If Barkley is gone, James all day long. He will have a positive impact in the league, hopefully with us.

  47. Buc4life Says:

    If we draft James we can still get Hernandez and Wynn. Wake up people we need defensive back help and James is the best available. He is being compared to Cam Chancellor and Sean Taylor. James and Evans can solidify our safety positions for years to come. Plus he has size and speed to matchup with the tall WRs and TEs we face twice a year as well as a run stuffer and blitzer.

  48. Aaron May Says:

    If the big 3 are gone that means 3Qbs are gone….you trade down. If 4QBs are gone…still listen to offers…or take one of the big 3. I still think the browns trade out or take the ND OT

  49. NFLNut Says:

    NOT AT #7 … at #11 or #12, fine … at #15 great … but NOT at #7

  50. QUE 5 Says:

    Come on man stop it! D. James is NOT Sean Taylor or Cam Chancellor.

  51. QUE 5 Says:

    Barkley or Chubb or trade down. 7 too high for a guard and DB’s in this draft unless you think D. Ward size won’t be an issue.

  52. Pickgrin Says:

    “D. James is NOT Sean Taylor or Cam Chancellor”

    You’re right – he’s more like an Eric Berry – and is likely to have a similar NFL career and impact.

    Raise your hand if you DON’T want the next Eric Berry in the Buccaneers secondary….

  53. QUE 5 Says:

    No Eric Berry either. smh

  54. QUE 5 Says:

    He’s no Eric Berry either. smh

  55. CreamsicleBananaHammock Says:

    Whoever drafts Derwin needs to throw on old Steelers film and let the guy roam the field the way Pitt used to do with Troy Polamalu

  56. Dapostman Says:

    B Chubb or Nelson at 7. Trade back if possible if they are gone. Get more picks. D James should be a last resort if there are no trade back partners. Lots of RB’s and DB’s in this draft. Load up on the picks.

  57. QUE 5 Says:

    His player comp is Mark Barron.

  58. BoJim Says:

    ‘SB Says:
    April 13th, 2018 at 1:08 pm
    Only 3 ints and 15 passes defended in three years. Pass.’

    Yea. Can’t understand how that is supposed to be good.

  59. Arealbucsfan Says:

    I’d rather reach for Davenport. Honestly I wanna trade down for Davenport and Will Hernandez while getting a RB in the 2nd

  60. Arealbucsfan Says:

    A good pass rush makes the secondary better. I’d still put VH3 outside if we have a pass rush

  61. JonBuc Says:

    Not crazy about James..has a Barron feel to it…regardless of Barron’s decent 2nd act as a hybrid linebacker.

  62. unbelievable Says:

    Rod Munch Says:
    April 13th, 2018 at 2:13 pm
    Lovie had a top 10 defense with less talent than Mike Smith had

    I’m sorry, what????? The only thing top-10 Lovie had was the amount of unused timeouts he kept in his pocket before halftime. (And Dirk has tried to match him on this a few times)

    As for James at #7…. NO THANK YOU.

  63. JimmyJack Says:

    One great thing you can say about Derwin is the simple fact that he comes from Florida State. Say what you want about your favorite college team but youre lying to say that FSU can’t produce DBs. The list of DBs that has come out of the school in the last decade is remarkable.

    You can say the same with Nelson being a Notre Dame lineman. Not sure if Penn State can produce RBs but I like their WR(Goodwin) so far!!

  64. Kobe Faker Says:

    “Please, please, please…the NFL short passing attack can easily beat a good pass rush”

    Kobe Elevator Faker

  65. JimmyJack Says:

    Kobe…..If D.James is a Buccaneer next week he will have his work cut out for him. He is joining, probably, the worst coverage secondary in the league. They are also the worst tackling secondary in the league.

    If not James the Bucs gotta get somebody to help the backfield. We are in trouble if we don’t improve.

  66. DalvinCookRules Says:

    I’ve been a 40-year long FSU fan, and I admit I am a little less confident on Derwin now than a year ago. However, in reviewing the tape, it is VERY clear that a large part of his under-performance was not because of the knee injury itself but the timidity he played with in NOT wanting to re-injure himself.

    He put in one of the most half-azzed efforts I’ve ever seen from a major prospect since probably Jadaveon Clowney. Derwin is every bit as physically talented as Jalen Ramsey, but not quite as fluid–which is okay if you put him at safety and not corner.

  67. hamilton Says:

    derwin james allday long,an I I’m a the u fan,go look a nelson vs Miami;he got killed all game.

  68. Buc68 Says:

    I’m a nole. I’d take James over Minkah. That said I’d prefer a lockdown corner if we are confident in one. Trade down is the best scenario but that is operating under an assumption that we have a legit trade partner. Bottom line is we should have a kicker now we desperately need a top 20 D. Accomplish that we make postseason.

  69. QUE 5 Says:

    More I think about it, if Barkley or Chubb is gone and no trade down opportunity, then pick should be Denzel Ward. Pure lockdown corner that can strap receivers on day 1. Big team need.

  70. QUE 5 Says:

    More I think about it, if Barkley or Chubb are gone and no trade down opportunity, then pick should be Denzel Ward. Pure lockdown corner that can strap receivers on day 1. Big team need.

  71. DanBucsFan Says:

    Kobe faker is funny…his 1st comment was silly and showed how ” special” he is…but then his 2nd take was worse than the first. And then someone I think pickgrin, was telling us who was higher on the Bucs draft board lolol… I didnt know that the Bucs made it public who was higher on their board , but I guess some people have “sources” or pehaps are working in the front office. I can understand saying ” I think a player his higher on their draft board” but to say he is, means they know for sure. Please give us more intel, please LMAO

  72. Ndog Says:

    I don’t know that like it but there is about a 90% chance we are taking James are 7!

  73. feelthepewterpower Says:

    Joe –

    Poor tackling and pursuit angles
    Slow to react at free safety
    And inconsistent effort throughout
    Not to mention the knee surgery….

    Fitzpatrick over James if the other three are gone.

  74. Jason Mclaurin Says:

    Gotta get James at #7 even if Barkley is there. If we draft James we still can come back and draft both S. Michel and K. Johnson later in the draft which will be better off for us. James is a first round talent and Secondary is our first need as well. Who cares if it’s #7 it’s our #1 need and he’s our #1 pick this year I think. Let the Bears get Barkley because Imho we need to see talent, that Homegrown talent from our area that will bring the winning passion back to our area. Barkley may not be as motivated once he arrives to Tampa and may lay down in the culture whereas James will come looking to assume leadership. Looking to win championships looking to be a catalyst for a #1 defense in his homestate. I feel the same way about S. Michel to because he’s a native that cares and will bring that passion. K. Johnson from Auburn a former Mr. Alabama like someone else on our team will bring that extra passion that extra chip on his shoulder playing behind Winston and with Alexander players that he can gain commrade with. Fitzpatrick and Barkley would be great but they are not the guys that will rise the culture to the level of Winston, Alexander, and M. Evans are trying to have in that locker room. Draft Derwin James at #7 please

  75. passthebuc Says:

    James is a death knell for the coaching staff at #7

  76. firethecannons Says:

    I am a FSU alumni
    No to James at #7 or in the top 20
    injury prone, over rated
    much rather reach on Davenport if cant trade down or top 3 non qb players

  77. KingBuc17 Says:

    trade back with bills as rosen or allen will still be on board. Bucs get 2 first and 3rd for 7th overall
    1st – 12 vita vea DT (we will have 2nd best DL in NFL, Rams)
    1st- 22 josh jackson CB (Best in this Draft, day one starter)
    2nd – 38 Guice, Chubb, Michel, JonesII(any)
    Buf 3rd – 92 Marcus Allen S (Will start with Evans)
    4th – 102 Wyatt Teller G (“sleeper pick” will start, film is awesome)
    5th – 144 Nyheim Hines RB (great Change of Pace option, returner)
    6th – 180 Colby Gossett, G (will beat out Dotson as RT mid-season (versatile)
    6th – 202 Christian Campbell CB will make team
    7th – 225 Jack Cichy, LB Great motor, special team ace

  78. Greecosuave Says:

    One of the problems here is how people value the #7 pick, Whatever are the Bucs needs, and Who is atop “THE BUCCANEERS” draft board. The scouting depts job is to assign a value to a spot we needs at a position to determine if a player the fit needed in the scheme and personality.

    Top NFL scouts look at DJ skill set and The Bucs scheme and see a perfect fit. Licht creamed over him. So understand this, Hames will rank on the top of our Defensive board and worthy of the #7 pick.

    REMEMBER: It’s not the National Draft Boards that mean a damn thing, it’s “The Buccaneers” board that does. In this draft there will be 2nd & 3rd round talent in the “4th, 5th, 6th rounds as part of a ripple affect when QB needy teams pick early. Other teams boards are going to have higher(or lower) draft values on players than the Bucs if the Scouting Dept did their job.

    The Bucs may not be able to trade down either. There are like 7 teams that could trade down or up.