Did the Miami Dolphins make the right choice with Minkah Fitzpatrick?
The Miami Dolphins opted to select Minkah Fitzpatrick in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft but was it the right one?
With the 11th overall selection of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins selected Minkah Fitzpatrick, safety, from Alabama. When that card was read there were a few mixed reactions and based on what we have seen in the past 6 games, the Dolphins could have potentially made a big mistake.
Quick disclaimer, I believe in Minkah. I think he’s going to be a good to great player for the Dolphins. His knowledge and study habits are second to none. He understands the game and once the game starts to slow down for him, his development will begin to show. The Dolphins didn’t draft Minkah to play nickel cornerback, there were no better options. All the Dolphin’s candidates for CB2, failed, which forced the Dolphins to move Bobby McCain to the boundary and Minkah inside.
In all scouts’ eyes, there were two elite safeties this past NFL draft, Derwin James and Minkah Fitzpatrick. Not since the 2010 draft, where Eric Berry and Earl Thomas (remember the Dolphins had a chance to draft him…but chose to trade down…oh…the pain) has a draft had two elite safeties available to the Dolphins.
The Dolphins selected Minkah Fitzpatrick mainly because of his pedigree. Grew up in Nick Saban system, was considered pro ready and one of the best athletes in this past draft class. On the flip side of the coin, there was another local prospect that had been gaining attention, with his heavy hitting, smooth shadowing and enticing ability to make a play, Derwin James looked like the next coming of Sean Taylor.
Truth be told, the comparison of Sean Taylor was based on my film study, but Jon Gruden, whom James played against a few weeks ago noted the following:
“”Having been in the AFC West before, he just has that Rodney Harrison playing style that I love,” Gruden said. “He’s an intimidating player. He is a physical presence. I think he’s got range to play deep, and he’s got coverage ability” – source: ESPN
James was the ideal fit for the Dolphins. Don’t believe the hype, look at James performance on the field this year, through 6 games;
· James is tied for leading the Chargers in Tackles
· James leads his team in sacks
· He has 1 interception and 1 Forced fumble
· Defensive pass interference calls
o 0 against Cleveland
Now, let’s flip the script, here is Minkah stats through 6 games:
· Minkah is 4th in tackles
· Has zero sacks or forced fumbles
· 1 interception
· Defensive Pass interference calls
o 2 against Chicago that led to first downs
I can hear the echo’s in the crowd, these two players don’t play the same position, as Minkah is a nickel corner, and James plays safety, well you are incorrect. James has lined up 134 snaps defensively as a safety, compared to 156 snaps at the line of scrimmage (where he could be play both nickel corner or some sort of hybrid linebacker). Minkah, although due to Reshad Jones injury has the same ratio of snaps as James, as such, their time on field comparison balances out.
Getting off the field right now is a problem for the Dolphins, especially on third and long. Re-watching the Bears game, there were two pass interference calls against Minkah and 2 additional calls against the Bengals. Each of those penalties, by nature, led to first downs and extended the drive.
If you are judged by your performance on the field, James is clearly the more dominant player at this time. It will be an interesting debate, as these two players will continue to develop, but if we could call on Doc Brown and get the DeLorean up to 88 mph’s, the name that should have been read on draft day would be Derwin James.