Derwin James leads talented, productive rookie class for Chargers

Named first-team All-Pro as a rookie, Derwin James is already one of the best safeties in the game. David Eulitt/Getty Images

COSTA MESA, Calif. -- In the running for defensive rookie of the year honors, safety Derwin James has been an versatile playmaker for the Los Angeles Chargers this season. And the Florida State product is just part of talented rookie class for general manager Tom Telesco.

All seven of the Chargers' picks from this year's draft spent time on the active roster this season, playing a combined 1,816 snaps on offense and defense during the regular season.

Grade: Near perfection

Best rookie: The obvious choice is James. One of the most talented players in the 2018 draft, James fell to the Chargers at No. 17 overall in the first round. He led the Chargers with 105 combined tackles, and also recorded 13 pass breakups, 3.5 sacks and three interceptions during the regular season. For his efforts, James earned an invitation to the Pro Bowl and was voted first-team, All-Pro as a rookie. At 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, James made plays all over the field and already is one of the best safeties in the game.

Most improved rookie: Although he had a good offseason, seventh-round selection Justin Jackson did not make the final roster out of training camp because of a hamstring injury that limited his playing time at running back. However, the Northwestern product continued to work hard on scout team and eventually was promoted to the active roster midseason. When he got his opportunity to play, Jackson shined, including rushing for 63 yards with an 18-yard touchdown in a come-from-behind win on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers while Melvin Gordon was unavailable because of a sprained right knee.

Jury is still out on ...: After having some success early in training camp, sixth-round selection receiver Dylan Cantrell was limited by a knee injury and put on the practice squad to open the regular season. However, the Texas Tech product was promoted to the active roster during the last month of the season. At 6-3 and 226 pounds, Cantrell is a big-bodied receiver who could develop into a vertical threat and will have an opportunity to make the active roster in 2019.

Undrafted rookie evaluation: Once again, the Chargers' scouting staff did a good job of unearthing some diamonds in the rough, as three undrafted rookies made the final roster, including running back Detrez Newsome, wide receiver J.J. Jones and cornerback Brandon Facyson. In 14 of the past 16 seasons, at least one undrafted rookie has made the initial, 53-man roster after final roster reductions for the Chargers. Eight of those played in all 16 regular-season contests and 12 made at least one start.