Dressed to impress in an off-white double breasted jacket with gold buttons and a custom inside liner inspired by his sister, matching off-white pants, and his college Championship rings decorating his hands, Minkah Fitzpatrick stood out at this year’s NFL Draft. His sense of fashion and down to earth presence easily captures your attention.
“I’m pretty into fashion,” Fitzpatrick said with a smile. “I always enjoy just dressing up. I was never big on it but everybody likes looking nice.”
The versatility and confidence he brought to the red carpet are the same traits the Miami Dolphins are looking for him to bring to their defense. As the No. 11 overall pick, the Dolphins are counting on the former Alabama safety to help them overcome the tight end matchups in the middle of the field that have hurt them in the past.
“They [Miami] need to be able to defend tight ends. They got bludgeoned in the middle of the field. Minkah Fitzpatrick is a star position player. He will take your best tight end and he will blanket him,” said ESPN analyst Louis Riddick.
Since Fitzpatrick is a defensive back who can play all five positions, he wasn’t sure which role he would play in the NFL but is willing to be anywhere he is needed.
When asked what makes him stand out as a player, Fitzpatrick said, “my versatility, my athleticism; just combining those two has allowed me to make plays that some people wouldn’t be able to make. I’m a chess piece. You can put me wherever you want, I’m just going to make plays.”
It’s those skillsets that caught the Dolphins attention. “He’s a unique kid. Unbelievably smart. Impeccable character. This is a player we felt we could not pass up,” said Miami’s General Manager Chris Grier.
The Dolphins are very aware where he will fit in on their defense. “He’s going to be a safety,” according to Grier. “His skillset and the things he does…He’s like a Swiss Army knife. He does a lot of things really good. He gives your defense a chance to be flexible and do a lot different.”
“He is a 6-foot, 205 pound guy that runs 4.45, can run and cover and he’s been a good cover guy. It’s a unique skillset at that position and his history of producing turnovers is very good.”
In his three seasons at Alabama, Fitzpatrick was known as a playmaker who had nine interceptions with six of them taking place in one season. He also helped Alabama win two national championships, and play in a championship game all three of his seasons.
“The Alabama culture helped me out a whole lot. Coach Saban is a great coach with 40 plus years experience in the game. Just sitting under him the past three years has been a great experience. He taught me a whole lot” said Fitzpatrick. “I believe I became the best possible version of myself on and off the field just by being coached by him and some of the other coaches, and being around some of the best of the best players every single day.”
Fitzpatrick has plenty to celebrate but he also acknowledges that his journey to the NFL wasn’t easy. It came with overcoming personal challenges. He grew up in a blue-collar family which was uprooted by Hurricane Irene in 2011. This forced Fitzpatrick, his siblings, and parents to live in the basement of his maternal grandparents’ home for a year while their house was rebuilt.
Minkah Fitzpatrick’s road to Alabama wasn’t easy; but with a strong work ethic and the support of his family, he persevered. pic.twitter.com/YjpAh8Qmpb
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) January 9, 2018
“My life hasn’t been the easiest. Me and my family have been through some things. We lost our home when I was a freshman in high school,” said Fitzpatrick. “We were down for a little while. I had to work like a 40-year-old man at the age of 14. But it definitely gave me the mindset I have now. I’m happy for those times.”
It’s those times that give him extra motivation. “My dream wasn’t just to make it to the NFL, but to be a great player in the NFL,” Fitzpatrick said. “This is just the beginning.”
That’s exactly what the Dolphins are hoping for.
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