Everything You Need To Know About Minkah Fitzpatrick
Let’s start with this: of all the stud football players to suit up for the University of Alabama Crimson Tide, if you’re one of the very, very select few players who can make head coach Nick Saban get the warm and fuzzies talking about you, you’re doing pretty damn good in my book.
It also wouldn’t be the slightest bit crazy to call Fitzpatrick “the best defensive prospect in the 2018 NFL Draft.”
Fitzpatrick has been described as a “five-tool” defensive back, meaning he can play all five spots or roles in a secondary: slot corner (where he played for much of 2017 because that’s what the Tide needed most), Outside corner, Free Safety (I think he has All-Pro potential at this position), Strong Safety, and “big nickel” linebacker.
The most accurate comparisons for him are “a bigger, stronger version of Tyrann Mathieu” (meaning he’s a defensive back so gifted that he could be a Pro Bowl player at either cornerback or safety), or “a more athletic Malcom Jenkins” (a ferocious, ball-hawking, tone-setting safety who can singlehandedly change the culture of your entire defense).
In regards to the latter comparison, I strongly recommend you watch this video breakdown & analysis of Fitzpatrick:
Here are a few other snippets of what other people are saying about him:
Fitzpatrick is an outstanding playmaker who possesses the versatility to play every position in the secondary. He primarily lined up as the nickel this past season, but he played cornerback as well as safety in previous campaigns. He’s at his best when allowed to float and keep his eyes on the quarterback. He has outstanding instincts, anticipation and ball skills. In man coverage, he has the size and speed to match up with both the big/physical pass-catchers as well as the smaller/quicker wideouts. He does have some hip tightness when he changes direction, but he recovers quickly because of his explosiveness. Against the run, he’s aggressive to attack the line of scrimmage and is a very dependable tackler in space. He’s an outstanding blitzer, displaying timing and burst. I love the energy and enthusiasm he brings to the defense. Overall, I see Fitzpatrick as a dynamic safety on run downs and a playmaking nickel on passing downs. He’s a bigger version of Tyrann Mathieu and I think he will make a similar impact in the league.
Fitzpatrick turns up the intensity level as high as it will go and and rips off the knob until the game is over. Fitzpatrick has experience as a slot cornerback, but will likely be targeted as a “do-everything” safety who can be deployed as a sub-package linebacker, a blitzer or in the slot against big receivers and move tight ends. Fitzpatrick has consistently shined since his freshman season on Alabama defenses that have been loaded with NFL talent. His versatility, football character and desire to succeed should make him an early starter.
With his skill set and versatility, Fitzpatrick looks like a real weapon for a pro defense. He can play the roaming safety role in the middle of the field, with his instincts putting him in position to make plays on the ball. Another great attribute that Fitzpatrick possesses is being able to play nickel corner. He is good in man coverage to line up over the slot receiver and prevent separation. Fitzpatrick also can play man coverage on tight ends, and his NFL defense is going to love having him to help neutralize the elite receiving tight ends of the NFL. Fitzpatrick also is a threat to take the ball away downfield. He tracks passes extremely well and shows nice ball skills. For a defensive back, Fitzpatrick has excellent hands. He is a real threat to create interceptions and make a game-changing play for his defense. With his instincts and skill set, Fitzpatrick is able to be the deep free safety center fielder who locks down the deep part of the field. It is hard to find single-high safeties, but Fitzpatrick has that ability. He also is a dangerous blitzer.
Fitzpatrick proved his value all over the field by blitzing and covering from the slot, reading the line to stop the run from a dime linebacker position, working with outside cornerbacks to cover crossing routes with great discipline and dealing with deep receivers as a hybrid safety. His understanding of spacing is a major attribute, and it shows up from several positions.
In summation: expect Fitzpatrick to be taken anywhere between the 4th and 14th overall picks in the 2018 NFL Draft.