One of the top prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft, Alabama's Minkah Fitzpatrick has the versatility to play both cornerback and safety as he proved during his time with the Crimson Tide.
While the Washington Redskins have quite a bith of youth amongst the defensive backs alongside veterans like Josh Norman and D.J. Swearinger Sr., but ProFootballFocus’ Steve Palazzolo believes the team could add to the room with a first round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft.
In his third mock draft of the year released on Tuesday, Palazzolo has the Redskins selecting Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick with the No. 13-overall pick.
“At worst, Fitzpatrick looks like a good slot corner or safety, though his size makes him an intriguing option as an outside cornerback despite playing only 13 snaps there last season,” Palazzolo writes. “He has three strong years of grading under his belt on 2,281 career snaps.”
In three seasons with the Crimson Tide, Fitzpatrick appeared in 42 games, recording 171 tackles (16 for loss) along with 35 passes defensed, nine interceptions, 4.5 sacks, four defensive touchdowns and two fumbles forced.
During his junior season in 2017, the Old Bridge, N.J., native was named the Bednarik Award winner, given annual to the top defensive player in the country by the Maxwell Football Club, and the Thorpe Award winner, given annual to the top defensive back in the country.
In the process, he became just the third player in NCAA history to win both awards, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Charles Woodson and Arizona Cardinals All-Pro Patrick Peterson.
In 13 games, Fitzpatrick recorded 60 tackles with nine passes defensed and one interception.
As a sophomore, Fitzpatrick was a first-team All-American selection as he set career highs in tackles (66) and interceptions (six).
The 6-foot-1, 201 pounder was also a freshman All-SEC selection in 2015, as he recorded 45 tackles along 11 passes defensed and two interceptions, both of which he returned for touchdowns.
According to his NFL.com draft profile, Fitzpatrick has an “extremely competitive play demeanor with a history of showing up big in the biggest games.”
“Versatile chess piece with experience all over the field. Can step right in and cover the slot, play high safety or handle nickel linebacker responsibilities. Good feet with ability to transition backward and forward smoothly around the field. Gets to top chase speed quickly. Can become rangy safety. Able to stick a foot in ground and drive to the ball. Plays with "ball-man" vision of an off-ball defender in basketball. Has awareness from zone to make loads of plays. Has nine career interceptions and four pick-sixes. Has downhill mindset as a hitter. Plays off of blocks and into tackling position. Dangerous blitzer off the edge. Attacks line of scrimmage from high safety look in run support and welcomes physical challenges. Special teams ace with 22 career coverage tackles,” his profile states.
During the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine, Fitzpatrick ran the 40-yard dash in 4.46 second while jumping 33 inches in the vertical jump and 121 inches in the broad jump.