Uncle, Shaun Gayle, was a Pro Bowl safety for the Bears (1984-95). James is a Virginia native. Played defensive end for the Hokies. Redshirted in 2009. Appeared in all 14 games in '10, starting two as an injury replacement, and tallied 13 tackles, 6.5 for loss and four sacks with a forced fumble. Started all 13 games in '11, collecting 38-12.5-7. Sprained his left ankle against Miami and sat out against Wake Forest, then re-injured the ankle early against Boston College. Started 11-of-13 games in '12, recording 43-11-5 with a batted pass. Did not start in the season opener against Georgia Tech (right ankle) or the Russell Athletic Bowl against Rutgers. Started all 13 games in '13 and notched 44-10.5-6 with a batted pass and forced fumble.
Excellent height-weight-speed ratio. Looks the part and has weight-room strength. Explosive athlete with rare leaping ability for his size -- posted a 37-inch vertical and broad jumped 10 feet, 2 inches. Good balance and edge burst and enough flexibility to turn the corner. Dogged in pursuit and ranges all over the field to make tackles. Flattens and crashes down the line. Strong wrap tackler. Durable three-year starter. Has NFL bloodlines.
Average eyes and instincts. Questionable football intelligence. Short on bulk and anchor strength to play with his hand in the dirt -- soft edge setter. Not equipped to shadow in man coverage and is unnatural playing in reverse. Limited scheme versatility. Could require short leash and extra reps.
Explosive, high-motor see-and-go reactor whose calling card is his ability to pressure the edge. Does not play to his weight-room numbers against the run and lacks desirable length and smarts, projecting as a situational 3-4 rush linebacker.