Name: Minkah Fitzpatrick
Position: Defensive Back
Weight: 201 pounds
Projected Round: Round One (Top Ten)
Fitzpatrick is a player that defensive coordinators would love to have on their team. He is a player that can be moved around the defensive formation and excel at each spot. He can play at safety, outside cornerback, nickel cornerback, or play as a hybrid linebacker in the box.
The reason he can play at these different spots is because of his technique. He is smooth with his feet when changing directions. This lets him break on a route or move into position when attacking a runner. He is also very smart, and could be Nick Saban’s son in the way they think about football. Will bait a quarterback into making a throw knowing that he can make a play on the ball
Speaking of attacking a runner, Fitzpatrick is one of, if not the best defensive back at stopping the run. When being blocked by a wide receiver, he attacks the block and can disengage from the block, putting him in position to make a play. He is not afraid to get in a hole to stop the run. Will lay a big hit on a runner if given the opportunity.
Fitzpatrick is very aware while playing in zone coverage. He keeps his eyes on the quarterback, but keeps receivers going into his zone in his peripherals. This lets him know where the quarterback is going with the football without losing track of the receiver. He also uses his quick burst to make a play on a ball.
Has the speed necessary to be able to make plays all over the field as a safety. He can get to his top speed quickly, allowing him to catch up to a runner. Uses his burst to get around linemen when blitzing off the edge.
Although he has played corner and has played well, he is not a player that you can rely on to play man coverage for an entire game in the NFL. Receivers have been able to get separation on him when they make a clean break out of a route. When he gets beat on a route, has some trouble recovering.
Even though he does a great job of being aggressive at making tackles, it puts him in trouble at times. He will overrun a play, forcing him to miss a tackle. Also has some trouble breaking down in space to make a tackle, giving the runner a chance to make a move and beat him. Needs to show that he can be patient while still being aggressive.
Does have some trouble playing as the deep safety. A quarterback can manipulate his aggressiveness. They will move Fitzpatrick to one side of the field with their eyes, only to go the to the other side that Fitzpatrick gave space to.
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Fit with the Cleveland Browns
Something that the Browns need across their entire roster is guys that can make plays. Fitzpatrick is one of those players in the 2018 draft. For a team that has holes all over their secondary, Fitzpatrick could slide into any of the spots and instantly improve the position.
Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has said that he wants the guys on his defense to be positionless and be able to play everywhere on the defense. Fitzpatrick would be the model player for that theory.
The Browns like to play with a single high safety and put their other safety in or around the box. Although they have Jabrill Peppers, who likes to play in the box, he would pair well with Fitzpatrick in sub-packages. Williams would be able to disguise his defense by putting Peppers and Fitzpatrick in the box at the same time.
By doing this, the quarterback would have to guess who is going to drop into coverage, who is blitzing, or are they both going to do the same thing. It would put the quarterback in a bad spot if they guessed wrong.
Fitzpatrick is also a guy that lives for football. He is going to work his tail off to become one of the best in the game, and he will not stop until he is. Playing on Alabama defenses that have NFL talent across the board, Fitzpatrick was always one of the best, most noticeable players on the defense.
For a Browns team that ranked dead last in the NFL in forced turnovers, adding Fitzpatrick would give them a playmaker that can force turnovers. He would be able to hide some of the deficiencies in the defense with his versatility. He would instantly slide in as one of the best defensive backs on Cleveland’s roster.