Running backs Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette were among the players who skipped out on their college team’s bowl games last year but were still drafted in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Florida State safety Derwin James looks to be the next to follow in their footsteps.
James declared for the 2018 NFL Draft in an Instagram post on Tuesday and went to The Players’ Tribune to send thanks and show his appreciation for his time at the university. His decision represents the latest departure from Florida State’s football program. Head Coach Jimbo Fisher left the school to take the open job at Texas A&M, which will pay him $75 million over the next 10 seasons.
In addition to taking his talents to the NFL in 2018, James said he will not play in the team’s bowl game against Southern Miss on December 27.
As a projected first-round pick, there isn’t much James has to gain from playing in a bowl game that isn’t part of the College Football Playoff. Still, leaving his teammates to prepare for the transition into the NFL won’t sit well with everyone. However, it didn’t hurt 2017 first-rounders like McCaffrey and Fournette, so it likely won’t knock James down a peg on draft day.
James is a first-team All-ACC safety who finished the season with two interceptions (including a pick-six), a sack, and 84 tackles. In Matt Miller’s most recent mock draft at Bleacher Report, he has James going to the Los Angeles Chargers with the 11th overall pick.
In that draft, Miller has the Bears choosing Connor Williams.
The Florida State product might be someone who is high on the Bears’ board come draft weekend. Chicago will have open spots in the secondary, and while the safety tandem of Eddie Jackson and Adrian Amos has been solid in 2017, Amos will be a free agent at the conclusion of the 2018 season.
A lot will go down between now and draft day, but James and his stock will be worth keeping an eye on from a Bears perspective.