COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) - The Los Angeles Chargers took advantage of safety Derwin James' slip in the first round, snagging one of the top defensive prospects in the draft with the 17th overall pick.
The Chargers pounced Thursday night after several teams filled other needs instead of grabbing James, the hard-hitting defensive back from Florida State.
Although James was widely projected as a top-10 pick, he was eagerly seized by the Chargers, who could use him immediately in a key role in an already solid defense.
James will join a secondary led by second-team All-Pro cornerback Casey Hayward and featuring Jason Verrett, safety Jahleel Addae and second-year pro Desmond King, who excelled as a rookie last season. James could even take the starting spot held by Tre Boston, who is a free agent after starting 15 games and playing almost every snap last season.
James is a sure tackler and relentless run-stopper who excelled in two of his three seasons at Florida State, but missed most of his sophomore year with a knee injury. He made 84 tackles and two interceptions last season, earning second-team All-American honors.
James' run-stopping abilities in the box will be a boon to the Chargers, whose defense occasionally struggled to stop the run. He also fills an area of need for a team that has two of the NFL's best edge rushers in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, but needs more strength up the middle.
The Chargers finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs on a tiebreaker last season after winning nine of the final 12 games in their relocation season.
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