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Miami Dolphins

The Rookies: Minkah Fitzpatrick

Travis Wingfield

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The Dolphins selected Minkah Fitzpatrick with the 11th pick of the 2018 NFL Draft Thursday night. Quarterback Josh Rosen went one pick earlier to the Arizona Cardinals (via a trade up) and linebacker Roquan Smith went 8th overall to the Chicago Bears.

Nick Saban put the highest praise imaginable on his All-American safety in 2017. “The best football player I’ve ever coached,” speaks volumes from the most decorated coach in college football history.

Capable of playing any position in the secondary, Fitzpatrick is getting most of his 2016 and 2017 seasons as a safety and slot corner. He fits the mold of a Miami defensive back for a variety of reasons:

1.) He fits the prototype – At 6’1’’, he has the length Miami requires at the position.

2.) Position flexibility – Miami is not privy to dime packages, but that could change. Fitzpatrick can play inside, outside or deep in zone coverage.

3.) He is a willing tackler – All good defenses have corners that can tackle on the edge. This might be Fitzpatrick’s best trait, and that’s saying something.

4.) Scheme diverse – His work in short zone coverage (quarters) shows his ability to pull the trigger and explode out of a backpedal. A rare combination, Fitzpatrick can also play man-up and challenge routes right at the line of scrimmage.

Wherever Alabama needed him, he accepted the challenge – and played at a high level.

In the 2016 National Championship game, he drew Hunter Renfro in the slot. He was tasked with taking tight end Jordan Leggett man-up. Against Arkansas earlier that season, he played boundary corner back. In that game, he was an absolute nuisance picking off two passes, creating havoc as a blitzer, and taking away one side of the field regularly.

Fitzpatrick’s technique, quick-twitch ability and aggressiveness makes him a fit for any system. He’s capable of playing off, or playing press. He can play underneath zone coverage. He can man-cover in the slot and he can blitz the edge. Frankly, it’d take less time to talk about the things he can’t do.

I’ll just let the GIFs do the talking.

Fitzpatrick has nine career interceptions, a handful of special teams tackles and a highlight reel packed full of impact plays. As far as impacting games at the NFL level goes, few positions carry more weight than a corner back.

The Dolphins have already announced Fitzpatrick will play primarily as a safety. With Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald on the same defense, Miami can get creative. Fitzpatrick is the best “big nickel” of the group and could signal the use of more dime defense in 2018.

@WingfieldNFL

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Mikey Moore

    April 27, 2018 at 7:01 pm

    He is Troy Polamalu-esk

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