A player’s first year in the league is often the toughest. Transitioning from college to professional football is a big leap. It’s not surprising that it can take players a season or two to get used to the speed and intensity of play, not to mention the more complicated offensive and defensive sets that are used in the NFL.
James was picked 17th in the first round by the Los Angeles Chargers. He played college ball at Florida State, where in 2016 and 2017 he was first team All-ACC. As a freshman he started out at a backup, but by his sophomore year he was considered to be one of the best defensive players in the conference.
After three seasons at Florida State, he decided to enter the NFL draft. This decision has paid off handsomely for both James and the Chargers. He’s so far made 71 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Because defensive end Joey Boosa has been out for the Chargers, James has stepped in up in the Chargers pass rush. This has proved to be no problem for James.
Now that Boosa is back the lineup, James is likely to be given more pass coverage assignments. James is our number one not just because his numbers are great, but because he was able to step up and fill a role the team needed. Now, we may see James settle in as a more traditional safety.
Bradley Chubb was drafted by the Denver Broncos at fifth, in the first round. Chubb came to the Broncos by way of NC State. In his last season at NC State, Chubb was nothing but outstanding. The senior linebacker was first team All-ACC, first team All-American, and ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Suffice to say, 2017 was a great football season for Bradley Chubb.
So it’s no surprise that the Broncos took him fifth overall. And he has shown that he was a smart draft pick. So far this season, Chubb has 37 tackles, nine sacks, and one forced fumble. Sacking quarterbacks is really where Chubb shines. He’s sacked some of the league’s best quarterbacks in Phillip Rivers and Joe Flaco. He’s also sacked the Rams’ Jared Goff three times.
Chubb’s uncanny ability to get to the quarterback make invaluable to the Broncos. They certainly made the right choice in picking him so high.
Ward was picked by the Cleveland Browns number four overall. He played in college at Ohio State where he was first team All-Big Ten and All American in 2017. Ward decided to skip his senior year at Ohio State and entered the NFL draft. With good stats from college and good measurable, including a 4.32 40-yard dash, he had good reason to expect to be drafted high.
And of course he was right. He’s paid off for the Browns, too. So far this season he’s made 42 tackles and intercepted the ball three times. Ward as also forced one fumble. Unfortunately Ward is having some hip trouble. He had some problems with his hip in the preseason and the issues seem to have returned. He hasn’t been moving quite as well as of late but he was still on the field for every snap last week.
James, Chubb, and Ward have been on our radar all season. They were projected to be great defensive players and 11 weeks in they are living up to the hype. Let’s see if they continue to perform in the home stretch.