Redskins draft countdown
Does your team need a safety? Minkah Fitzpatrick can drop back deep and direct the defense from there.
How about an outside corner? He can stick with any wide receiver step for step.
Someone in the slot? Fitzpatrick can handle that, too.
Do you need an edge rusher? You don’t want to line Fitzpatrick up there every snap, but he can get to the quarterback.
On the field, he is a Jack of all trades and a master of many of them.
Projected draft round:1
How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins could go into the season with the secondary starters they have now but that doesn’t mean that there isn't a need there. Safety Montae Nicholson could only play in six games last year due to injuries. The slot corner position is up in the air. It’s possible that Josh Norman will be a salary cap casualty in 2019. But even if they were loaded in the secondary, they could use a versatile talent like Fitzpatrick.
Film review: vs. Tennessee, vs. Clemson, vs. Georgia
—In the first eight minutes of the Tennessee game, he lined up in press man coverage, off man, at slot corner, outside corner and edge rusher. Later in the game, he was the single deep safety.
—Anyone who plays in the Redskins secondary needs to be part of the solution to fixing the league’s 32nd-ranked rushing defense. Fitzpatrick was a bit inconsistent here. From cornerback, he fought off a blocker and made the tackle in textbook style. Another time he had a bead on a runner on a sweep but he overran the tackle. And against Georgia, he started to jog after it looked like Sony Michel was going out of bounds and Michel turned upfield for an additional 10 yards.
—Fitzpatrick was a rare true freshman starter on the Alabama defense and his experience shows. He reads plays well and follows his assignments. Once as the quarterback started to scramble he stayed disciplined and stuck in his zone in a situation where many corners rush up to tackle the quarterback, allowing a receiver to run free.
—He has great speed off the edge rushing the quarterback. Fitzpatrick also shows great hustle, keeping after the QB if he can’t get the sack. That allows other defenders to make the play.
—Fitzpatrick is very sticky in man coverage, starting with his receiver step for step down the field.
Potential issues: His interception numbers are hard to sort out. He had eight in his first two seasons with the Crimson Tide - including a school record four returns for touchdowns - but in 2017 he had just one interception. It should be noted that teams mostly threw away from him in the games I watched, so perhaps he did not have many opportunities. Still, it’s something a team should be wary of when spending a high first-round pick.
There are some analysts who are dubious of Fitzpatrick’s ability to play corner full time in the NFL. That could make the Redskins think twice about drafting him with the idea of having him replace Norman in 2019.
Bottom line: There is plenty of chatter out there that the Redskins will not hesitate to draft Fitzpatrick if he is on the board at No. 13. That could be true or it could be a smokescreen. Take your pick.
The Redskins may not have to make the decision, of course. A team could well take him somewhere between the fifth and tenth picks. But the wild card is the likelihood that four or possibly five quarterbacks will go off the board before the Redskins pick. That could push a talented player like Fitzpatrick right into their laps. The Redskins will then have to decide between Fitzpatrick and a few others who would be a top-10 player in most drafts.
Redskins draft countdown
- Florida State S Derwin James
- Georgia RB Nick Chubb
- USC RB Ronald Jones
- Washington NT Vita Vea
- Alabama DL Da’Ron Payne
- Oklahoma State WR James Washington
- LSU RB Derrius Guice