Erasmus James suffered a hip injury during preseason drills prior to the 2003 season, and missed the entire year while rehabbing. Then last season he suffered an ankle injury that caused him to miss time. He also endured a shoulder injury a few years back, which only helps to diversify his injury portfolio. This full medical resume made James' health the primary concern for the trainers who inspected him back at the combine.
"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."
Now that James has answered the question of whether he is healthy enough to play, he must next answer the question of where he will play. At 6'4" and a half and 266lbs, James projects as either a defensive end in a 4-3 or an outside linebacker in a 3-4. The problem is that James may not have the size to properly defend the run as an end, and may not have the agility to hold up in pass coverage. However, he was quick to eschew such concerns.
"I think I'd be a very good fit in a 3-4," James said. "I think I can be good against the run. I got great hip extension and this past year I've proven to the scouts that I can stop the run. I feel very comfortable."
With his medical and positional concerns seemingly put to rest, there is very little left to question about James. He is a player who displays very sudden movement and who comes off the edge with an incredible amount of speed. In fact, the latter is the first asset he mentioned when asked about what he can bring to a team.
"Definitely a lot of speed," James promised.
These qualities will likely have him selected somewhere in the first round of the draft, and teams would be wise not to assume they can acquire him too low due to his aforementioned medical concerns.
He has had personal visits with the Minnesota Vikings and St. Louis Rams, with the Dallas Cowboys, Cincinnati Bengals, San Diego Chargers, and Houston Texans also showing an interest.
"I definitely see myself as a top fifteen guy," James said.
Now all that is left is to see if general managers league wide agree.
Michael Lombardo can be reached at Lombardo@SanDiegoSports.net
A healthy James is a top fifteen pick
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