I had trouble sleeping last night. It could have been my sick child, or my sick self (thanks child). But if I had to bet I would say it was the fact that the Miami Dolphins picked Minkah Fitzpatrick. Not only did they pick Fitzpatrick, he fell to them at 11. They didn’t have to use any extra draft capital to go up and get him.
In my previous article on Roquan Smith, I shared my top 11 players. Rosen was first, Mayfield was second, then Fitzpatrick was third. Mayfield went first overall, and it was coming down to Miami's pick with Rosen and Fitzpatrick still on the board.
One of my friends asked me who I wanted. I responded with Rosen or Fitzpatrick. Arizona then traded up in front of the Dolphins to grab Rosen. I thought I would feel a little upset, but all I felt was relief. I knew in my heart that Rosen wasn’t a necessary pick, and Miami would be a better team with a stud defender like Fitzpatrick. I still can’t believe they actually drafted him.
Fitzpatrick is the ultimate swiss army knife in the defensive backfield. He excels at playing slot, boundary corner, deep safety, and box safety. He can blitz, play zone, and play man. He is aggressive against the run. Fitzpatrick is a good athlete. With speed and smoothness, and fluid lower body functionality.
But what makes him special is his processing, and his movement skills while keeping his eyes in the backfield. He can run with receivers while keeping his eyes on the QB.
Here, Fitzpatrick is in the slot. The offense throws a screen his way. I love how Fitzpatrick attacks the blocker he isn't waiting for the blocker to come to him.
On this play, Fitzpatrick shows an excellent ability to recognize the play and displays a great click and close. Runs to everything like his hair is on fire.
Then there's his ability to blitz, here in the slot he quickly changes direction and starts targeting the running back instead of the quarterback as soon as he sees the handoff take place, making a tackle for a loss on this backside pursuit.
Much has been said about Fitzpatrick's versatility, and that applies to more than just his skill set; he also has positional versatility, the likes of which have rarely - if ever - been seen before. Fitzpatrick is shown here playing as a cover 2 high safety. On this running play he comes downhill quickly to make a tackle.
Coverage is yet another skill that Fitzpatrick excels at. Here he displays his excellent coverage skills with a smooth backpedal, smooth hip turn, and stays with the WR all the way through the route.
Remember that positional versatility I mentioned before? Check out Fitzpatrick here lined up as an outside linebacker. He is covering the big slot flexed WR. This is something I want him to do against TEs.
Dolphins GM Chris Grier stated in a press conference that Minkah Fitzpatrick would be used as a safety in Miami, or at least that's the plan. Plays like this are a big reason why free safety is his projected position. Here Fitzpatrick is playing deep corner/safety. He watches where the QB is going with the pass, positions himself and he intercepts this pass and brings it to the house for a defensive touchdown.
Fitzpatrick also spent time as a boundary cornerback in college. Though this GIF does not show him lined up at the position, you do get a taste of his propensity for pass breakups as he goes up with the receiver and knocks the pass away.
More examples of Fitzpatrick being a ball magnet. Here he is lined up in the WLB/Nickel position. He covers the WR so smoothly and makes the QB pay for the errant throw.
Fitzpatrick is so good at moving with his eyes in the backfield. This is why he is able to get so many turnovers.
This film review was written by Matthew Knowles. Follow him on Twitter: @M_PorterKnowles
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