Draft prospect: Erasmus James

There seems to be a strong possibility that University of Wisconsin defensive end Erasmus James, at one point considered a top 10 pick in this weekend's NFL draft, might be available when the Green Bay Packers utilize their 24th overall pick. James' injury history has caused his stock to fall in the minds of some draft experts, despite his strong finish last year for the Badgers.<p>

James has recovered from a career-threatening hip injury suffered prior to the 2003 season and was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year last year. But other assorted ankle and knee problems will always be an issue. He could be the answer to the Packers' needs along the defensive line. Opposing quarterbacks finished with whopping 99.1 passer rating against Green Bay in 2004 mainly because of the Packers' weak pass rush.

Most teams at the NFL Combine in February passed James on his physical with flying colors, still there appears to be concern about his past injuries.

"The first thing when you get in there and they're looking down your sheet and they see a hip injury," James said. "And when you see a hip injury, that's a pretty big issue. So they looked at it and checked it out right away."

Luckily for James, the trainers walked away confident of his condition.

"They did a lot," admitted James, "but it passed with flying colors."

Here is more on James from Scout.com and NFLDraftScout.com:

Ht: 6-4

Wt: 266

40 time: 4.85

Year: 5Sr

High School: McArthur (Hollywood, Fla.) H.S.

Bio: Three-year starter coming off a breakout senior campaign. Born on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts (his father is press secretary to the nation's prime minister), James moved to The Bronx, N.Y., and grew up there as a child. He then moved to Florida as a high school freshman, where he became a standout basketball player, but was convinced to try football in his senior year.

In James' one season at McArthur (Fla.) High, he earned third-team all-state honors after posting 53 tackles with 14 sacks and 23 stops for losses.

James was academically ineligible in 2000, but appeared in every game as a reserve right defensive end in 2001, collecting 36 tackles (20 solo) with six sacks, seven stops for loss and three forced fumbles.

He took over the right defensive end spot as a junior in 2002, registering 17 quarterback pressures, four sacks, seven stops for loss and 52 tackles (32 solo), despite playing later in the year by a knee sprain.

A hip injury during 2003 preseason drills kept him on the sidelines for the entire season. He returned to action in 2004, shifting to left end, and was having a solid season until suffering an ankle sprain against Purdue that would force him to sit out the Northwestern game and limit his action against Minnesota. James finished the season with 36 tackles (27 solo), a career-high eight sacks, 111/2 stops behind the line of scrimmage and seven pressures.

In 36 games as a Badger, James had 124 tackles (79 solo) with 18 sacks for minus-120 yards, 251/2 stops for losses of 145 yards, 28 quarterback pressures, seven forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and six pass deflections.

Positives: Excellent athlete. Quick off the snap, plays low with leverage and immediately alters his angle of attack. Fluid moving up and down the line of scrimmage, redirects to the action and displays great range. Rarely off his feet and collapses outside-in to defend the run. Plays with excellent balance, fast off the edge and effective dropped off the line of scrimmage. Good speed to the sidelines and always working to get involved in the action. Solid hand technique fighting blocks. Negatives: Handled at the point by a single blocker and has difficulty if opponents run straight at him. He is still learning, as he is not quite as instinctive to blocking schemes as he should be.

Negatives: 2002: Did not start against Michigan (Nov. 12) as he was bothered by left knee tendonitis, but saw some playing time. Injury report: 2002: Did not start against Michigan (Nov. 12) as he was bothered by left knee tendonitis, but saw some playing time.

2003: Sat out the year after he injured his hip during the first week of summer drills (Aug. 3).

2004: Missed the Northwestern game after he was forced to leave in the third quarter of the Purdue contest (Oct. 16) with a left ankle sprain that resulted from a chop block. He returned to action vs. Minnesota (Nov. 6), wearing a brace to protect his foot, but left at halftime. James continued to have problems with his ankle the rest of the year, missing several practices in the week leading up to the Outback Bowl contest vs. Georgia.

Analysis: A disruptive force who opponents game-plan around, James combines athletic skills with intensity to force the action up the field. Needs to dedicate the bulk of his spare time to increasing his strength, but he proved in 2004 that he can be a difference maker, if he can stay healthy.

Packer Report Top Stories