The first half of the NFL Draft came and went. Derwin James was still waiting.
He sat through 16 picks, garnet suit and all, in the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and listened as teams made pick after pick. Derwin James nowhere to be heard.
The wait was worth it. The moment finally came.
The Los Angeles Chargers selected James with the 17th overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft on Thursday.
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As James walked up to the stage and shake hands with and hug NFL commissioner Roger Goodell with the sounds of Meek Mill's "Maybach Curtains" in the background, the Florida State star safety's NFL dream became reality.
James became Florida State's fifth player in six years to be taken in the first round. He was also the first player who played at a Florida college to be selected in the draft.
Florida's Taven Bryan was taken 29th overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars to become the Gators' ninth first-round picks for the Gators since 2013. UCF cornerback Mike Hughes went to the Minnesota Vikings at pick No. 30. The Miami Hurricanes, meanwhile, did not have a player selected in the first round of the draft for the first time since 2014.
Three additional players with South Florida roots were drafted as well on opening night. The Falcons selected Alabama's Calvin Ridley (Monarch High alumnus) with the 26th overall pick and the Patriots took Sony Michel (American Heritage Plantation alumnus) at No. 31. Louisville's Lamar Jackson, a Pompano Beach native, was taken by the Baltimore Ravens at No. 32 to close out the first round.
For James, who was viewed as a top-10 prospect by both ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. and the NFL Network's Mike Mayock, it seemed inevitable that he would be taken at some point in the first round.
But the second half of the draft? That's getting him amped up.
"I feel like 16 teams, they tried me," James said in an interview with the NFL Network after he was selected. "I'm coming in to work. I'm happy the Chargers came and got me, and now I've got something to prove."
He proved at Florida State that he's a competitor.
His career stats in 27 games with the Seminoles: 186 tackles (12 for loss), 3 interceptions, 15 pass breakups and two forced fumbles. James was a first-team All-American as a redshirt sophomore, totaling 84 tackles (including 5 1/2 for loss), two interceptions, 11 pass breakups and blocked a kick.
He has even drawn comparisons to former Miami standout Sean Taylor for those that need any more validity of his potential. James also joins a long line of Florida State defensive backs taken in the first round that most recently includes Jalen Ramsey in 2016, Xavier Rhodes in 2013, Patrick Robinson in 2010 and Antonio Cromartie in 2006.
Bryan, nicknamed the "Wyoming Wildman" at Florida, had his coming out season in 2017. He finished tied for second on the Gators' roster with 4 sacks along with 40 tackles (6 TFLs) despite being double teamed most of the time.
Now, Bryan isn’t without his caveats. He's raw. There's no doubt about that. Last season was his first time as a regular contributor, and that’s at the college level.
However, his brute strength is undeniable. Bryan has even drawn comparisons to NFL stalwart JJ Watt. He's pretty agile for his size, too. When the effort’s there, Bryan can be unstoppable.
The Jaguars hopes that’s the Taven Bryan they will be working with. Bryan also joins former Gator standout Dante Fowler Jr., whom the Jaguars selected third overall in 2015.
Hughes is UCF’s fourth-ever first-round draft pick, joining the likes of Dante Culpepper (11th overall in 1999), Blake Bortles (third overall in 2014) and Breshad Perriman (26th overall in 2015). The Vikings are hoping he's not a one-year wonder.
In his lone season at UCF, Hughes led the Knights with 11 pass breakups and also recorded four interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. Hughes also recorded 44 tackles. He also returned two kickoffs and one punt for a touchdown
Ridley finished his three-year college career second in Crimson Tide history in receptions (224), second in receiving touchdowns (19) and third in receiving yards (2,781). He recorded a catch in all 44 games of his career.
His production rivaled former Alabama greats Julio Jones and Amari Cooper (also a South Florida native), both of whom were first-round selections in the NFL Draft. Ridley will now join forces with Jones in Atlanta.
Michel, a five-star prospect out of high school, had a solid career at Georgia despite playing in a crowded backfield. He rushed for 3,928 yards — the third-most in UGA history — and 33 touchdowns. He did this despite playing in a crowded backfield each year that at one point included the trio of Todd Gurley, Nick Chubb and Michel together at the same time. He set career highs as a senior in rushing yards (1,227), yards per carry (7.87) and rushing touchdowns (16).
He had 11 100-yard rushing games during his college career. Nine of which have come against Power 5 opponents. Six came in SEC play.
He will join fellow South Florida native James White (a St. Thomas Aquinas alum) in New England's backfield.
And then there's Jackson, the 2016 Hesiman Trophy winner. With his selection, the first round was bookended by Heisman Trophy winners, with Baker Mayfield going No. 1 overall.
In 38 career games, Jackson completed 57 percent of his pass attempts for 9,043 yards and 69 touchdowns, compared to just 27 interceptions. He also rushed for 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns. He won the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore in 2016 after throwing for 3,543 and 30 touchdowns and rushing for an additional 1,571 yards with another 21 touchdowns.
Jackson is just the second player in Football Bowl Subdivision history to throw for 9,000 yards and rush for another 4,000, and the only one to do so in just three years.
Georgia's Isaiah Wynn, from St. Petersburg, also was a first-round pick. The Patriots took him 23rd overall.
Day 2 of the draft, which consists of Rounds 2 and 3, begins at 7 p.m. Friday.