When Derwin James fell to the Chargers at No. 17 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, it was a surprisingly strong landing spot for the former Florida State safety. He's now raring to start a New Era as the newest impact player in one of the NFL's most talented pass defenses.

James is ready to go to work in his first NFL training camp ... while sporting the requisite camp cap in style. He talked to Sporting News about his rookie expectations for himself and his team.

SN: How long have you been dreaming of this moment?

DERWIN JAMES: I've been waiting a long time, going back to when I was a little kid. I'm ready to go in there and crush it.

SN: How good can this already good Chargers defense be with you in it?

DJ: We're definitely bringing the sauce and bringing the swag. Not only will this defense be very special, but this team is going to be very special. There's a lot of good stuff going on and I can't wait to represent.

SN: When you first found out you were going to this defense and playing right in the middle with guys such as Pro Bowl cornerbacks Casey Hayward and Jason Verrett, what was your reaction?

DJ: It was like, "Man, is this really true, is this really going to happen?" Being able to play with dominant guys all the way across the board, I knew would increase my level of play, and I feel I've fit right in.

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SN: It's been 28 years since a safety won Defensive Rookie of the Year, w

hen Mark Carrier did it for the Bears in 1990. What makes you the guy to end that drought?

DJ: If I can come in, work hard and just play my role and not try to do too much and just do what the coaches ask me to do, with the guys I have around me, it's like with any of my personal goals — anything is possible.

SN: What kind of advice have Casey and Jason given you as the veterans in the secondary?

DJ: They've helped me a lot with the mental part of it, knowing what the speed of the game is and knowing how offenses will try to attack you. It's an ongoing process.

SN: What were your early impressions playing in a defense for when Joey Bosa is rushing the passer?

DJ: He's a pro now all the way. People think he's one way, but he doesn't really say too much to anybody. He kind of has his own personality. He comes in and has his routine he does every day. You watch him from a distance and you want to ask him questions. He's always open to talk and he clowns around sometimes. It's great to play with such a great guy.

SN: How much does facing a savvy quarterback such as Philip Rivers in practice every day accelerate your learning?

DJ: He's been doing it since I was in Pop Warner. He does a great job pushing guys. He gives you a whole lot of looks and he never stops being a competitor.

SN: It doesn't seem to matter if you're classified as a free or strong safety, because you can do everything required of both positions. Where do you draw inspiration for your game?

DJ: I look at a lot of tape on (the Chiefs') Eric Berry as a great do-it-all safety. I've also looked at (the Seahawks') Earl Thomas and older safeties like (late Redskin) Sean Taylor. I like to follow those guys who had done it a high level and proven it for a long time in this league.

SN: You ultimately landed in a great spot, but was there any disappointment in not going higher in the draft?

DJ: I knew wherever I was going, I knew I was going to come in and make an impact. It was a blessing for it be the Chargers, a great young team where I knew I could help them win a lot of games.

SN: How big is that swagger and attitude for your defense that you believe you'll get to any quarterback and shut down any passing game?

DJ: You have to play this game with that kind of swagger. We're going to make a lot of big plays together and we're going to celebrate when we make those players. If we keep working hard, everything there will take care of itself.

SN: Your former Florida State teammate Jalen Ramsey is a key part of an elite pass defense in Jacksonville. How much did he help you through this process of getting where you are?

DJ: He said you've got to come in and realize who you are. You are there for a reason and now it's about envisioning yourself making those plays. You have to focus on all the details. He's helped me make sure my mind-set is right in approaching the game.

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SN: What's been the hardest thing for you in the transition to the NFL?

DJ: The hardest thing for me is not trying to get it all in one day. I'm one of those guys who wants to get it all right the first time. I've had to see it like I'm learning a whole new language, where you're not going to come in and automatically speak that language.

SN: What's been easier than expected for you?

DJ:  How I've been able to learn free and strong safety at the same time. ... At the end of the day, it's been football for me, and football has never been too hard for me my whole life.

SN: How will you measure the success of your rookie season at the end of it?

DJ: I just want to end the season with us playing in the postseason. Whatever can contribute to it, that's success to me.

SN: With you in there, can the Chargers become the best overall defense in the league?

DJ: With the guys in this locker room and the coaches we have, we have a great chance.

SN: What has it been like having this partnership with New Era as you go out and do your job?

DJ: I know I'll always be comfortable with my favorite snapback hat on. I just can't wait to represent it even more and make some plays.