Minkah Fitzpatrick is too talented to fall in this year’s NFL Draft.
NFL teams may be confused about exactly what position Minkah Fitzpatrick will play at the next level, but that shouldn’t cause him to fall in this year’s NFL Draft. The reality is he’s too good of a football player to take a serious hit over such minor concerns.
Gurus like ESPN’s Mel Kiper are starting to think that Fitzpatrick’s draft stock is on the slide. In his latest Mock Draft, Kiper has the former Alabama defensive back falling all the way down to the Green Bay Packers with the No. 14 pick. He correctly points out that Fitzpatrick could be the “steal of the draft” at that spot.
In my mind, Fitzpatrick falling anywhere outside the top 10 would be a colossal mistake by numerous NFL front offices. I understand the concerns that he’s a bit of a “tweener.” Teams aren’t completely sure whether or not he can hold up as a cornerback on the outside. Some scouts also wonder whether or not he has the size to play safety in the modern NFL. Both of those questions are legitimate, but they miss the point on where Fitzpatrick’s value would come.
When you watch how Nick Saban deployed him at Alabama you can get a true sense of how we can positively impact an NFL defense. He’s at his best when he’s used to neutralize the other team’s slot receiver. Having the luxury of a player with the speed and instincts to cover those sorts of dynamic athletes is great for any NFL team. Having a player who can cover those X receivers and dominate them at the point of attack in the run game is almost unheard of.
That’s precisely what Fitzpatrick can do. He might not fit perfectly into team’s antiquated notions of what a corner or safety should be, but smart teams will realize he transcends those old ideas. Think of Fitzpatrick as a game changing nickel corner if you feel the need to place him in such a narrow box. A player who can dominate those matchups is easily worth a top 10 selection.
Fitzpatrick has the ability to transform a defense just like Marshon Lattimore did for the New Orleans Saints last year. He too, entered the Draft process with an extremely high-grade but started to drop just before the first round festivities began. He ended up falling to the Saints at No. 11 and he was a huge reason their defense was good enough to elevate the team back to being a Super Bowl contender.
It’s natural that NFL front offices start to second guess themselves as they get so close to the Draft. Any team that talks themselves out of Minkah Fitzpatrick is going to be kicking themselves for years. He’s got the talent and work ethic to be a standout NFL defender for a decade. Don’t get caught up in what position he plays, just think about what he can do for a defense on the field. When you do that, it’s easy to see why he has to be top 10 selection.