CFB 24/7  


#CFBTop25: No. 3, Derwin James, S, Florida State

  • By
More Columns >
AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

Derwin James missed all but two games last season, but he showed more than enough as a true freshman and early in the 2016 campaign to earn his spot near the top of these rankings.

James, who suffered a meniscus tear in his left knee in Week Two last season, is the lone defensive player who appeared in CFB 24/7's preseason list of the top contenders for the Heisman Trophy. The star safety has rare versatility -- he could be the next three-way star, taking the torch from 2017 first-round pick Jabrill Peppers, who was a Heisman finalist in 2016. analyst Bucky Brooks has likened James to a mix of two other 2017 first-round picks -- Jamal Adams and Reuben Foster.

It's high praise, and it's warranted. Just ask James, who believes he's the best player in college football.

Pulling back the curtain on the vote

James received votes from all seven CFB 24/7 experts, including two No. 1 votes (no player received more than two No. 1 votes). He's one of nine players who received a vote from every analyst, and he's the highest-rated defensive player in the #CFBTop25 countdown.

CFB 24/7 is marking the days to the start of the 2017 season by counting down the top 25 players in college football.

What some of our analysts are saying about James

"James is an athletic freak. He has the speed to cover in the slot and he is a hammer in run support. He is also a very effective pass rusher off the edge. He just needs to improve his ball production and I expect that to happen this fall." -- Daniel Jeremiah

* * *

"Dynamic box safety with the athleticism, instincts and skill to disrupt the game as a "MOF" (middle of the field) enforcer or second-level pass rusher." -- Bucky Brooks

* * *

"Injured last season, he's a force when healthy. Can run, hit, blitz, cover -- prototype of what the NFL is seeking from its safeties in today's game. Would not be surprised to see him on Heisman ballots if he plays 2017 injury-free." -- Charles Davis

* * *

"I'm extremely excited to see James get to work this season now that he's healthy. He has NFL size, speed and explosiveness and can be deployed at almost any spot on the field." -- Lance Zierlein

* * *

"James was injured two games into last season, but will be full throttle in 2017. The tall, long safety is a secure tackler against the run and has the ball skills to create turnovers in coverage." -- Chad Reuter

* * *

"A lot of eyes will be on James to see if the dynamic defender who made it look so easy in 2015 is fully back from a knee injury. Sources at FSU suggest he'll be even better." -- Chase Goodbread

Where do fans rank James?

We asked Twitter users who they considered the best player in college football. James received enough support to finish fifth in the fan vote. He was the highest-rated defensive player in the fan vote, as well.

Follow College Football 24/7 on Twitter @NFL_CFB.



The previous element was an advertisement.

NFL Shop