by J.T. Toth
Photo courtesy of Gulf Coast Media.
At Draft 412, the NFL draft talk never ends. We will keep you ready for the next set of gridiron stars—from today and all the way until draft night 2024. We will bring you mock drafts, player profiles, individual team needs, and everything else you may need related to the 2024 NFL Draft.
Today’s Spotlight - Auburn, Cornerback, D.J. James
Name- D.J. James
HT/WT- 6’1” 164 lbs.
Home – Mobile, AL
D.J. James grew up in Mobile, Alabama and attended Spanish Fort High School. He was rated as a three-star recruit who originally committed to Mississippi before flipping his commitment to Oregon.
During his freshman year at Oregon, James played in 7 games and totaled 10 tackles and 1 pass deflection. In the 2020 Covid season, he played in 6 games and had 16 tackles and 1 pass deflection in limited time.
In 2021, he cracked the Ducks' starting lineup and played 12 games and accumulated 46 tackles, 4 passes defended and 2 interceptions. After the season, James announced he was entering the transfer portal and decided to play football at Auburn.
Last season at Auburn, he played in 12 games and collected 37 tackles, 8 passes defended and 1 interception, which he returned for a touchdown. So far in 2023, James has 18 tackles and 2 interceptions in 6 games for the Tigers.
James is a heady cornerback with a high football IQ and ample recovery speed for the position. He’s got pro length in his size and a smooth, quick movement to his stride. He has great ball skills, becoming a wide receiver when the ball is in the air. If he picks the ball, he’s capable of putting six on the board.
James tracks the ball well in the air and gets his head turned around on time, which limits the amount of pass interference calls against him. He has enough speed to cover man-to-man and is smart enough to be a positive in zone coverages.
On the downside, his footwork is a bit choppy and he will need to have a better release when coming out of a back pedal. Mechanically, he’s not a great tackler and he loves to grab and pull down players instead of breaking down. He struggles to tackle bigger, stronger opponents and has a bad habit of giving up on plays too soon. He does not trust his true speed, so he sometimes will grab a receiver when he feels he can’t recover and takes an unnecessary penalty. Having a very slender build, James needs to add weight and muscle for the rigors of the NFL.
It is tough to find somebody with the build of James (164 lbs.). The best comparisons may be the Commanders' Emmanuel Forbes or even a Paulson Adebo of Stanford who had a slight build before being selected in the 3rd round of the 2021 draft. Adebo has since added some weight and muscle and there is no reason for James not to be able to do the same.
Back pedal transition
D.J. James is good enough in coverage and has enough playmaking ability to be high on a lot of draft boards. He needs to gain some weight and muscle, but he has the toolset to succeed in the NFL.
Draft 412 Draft Prediction - 3rd round