Height/Weight: 6-1, 201
Draft projection: First round
Why Fitzpatrick makes sense for the Bucs
One of the Bucs' biggest needs is to improve their secondary. Fitzpatrick is a playmaker, arguably the best overall defensive back in the draft. Nick Saban's players are typically NFL-ready. Fitzpatrick is great playing close to the line of scrimmage either as a nickel cornerback or box safety and can cover running backs, tight ends and receivers. The Bucs have a chance to team him with second-year pro Justin Evans to form one of the best pair of young safeties in the NFL.
Why Fitzpatrick doesn’t makes sense for the Bucs
Safety is rarely a high value position in the draft. If the Bucs believe Fitzpatrick can play outside at cornerback, it makes more sense. They already have Vernon Hargreaves as their slot cornerback. If other players are there such as Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson or Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea, they may go another route.
Three questions for Minkah Fitpatrick
How did you wind up playing the slot corner position for Alabama?
"I came in as a corner so I was used to covering people one on one. Halfway through camp Coach Saban came to me asking if I wanted to play slot corner and learn how to play it. I said sure and kind of took on that role. That's really what I did. In my freshman year, a little bit of corner then my sophomore year I went back and forth. That's pretty much what I did. I feel comfortable with it because I practice it a lot. I worked on it all the time. It's a different type of position. It's a position that's kind of a combination of corner and safety. You can make calls like a safety. You can rush or fill the holes, working the gaps like a safety. Then you get to cover man to man or on pass downs like you need to like a corner. I like playing both corner and safety so I think slot corner is an optimal position."
What's the strongest aspect of your game?
"I'd say I'm strongest covering man to man. Whether it be inside corner or outside corner or at safety coming down in coverages man to man. It's what I did pretty much my whole career at Alabama. I usually covered the top receiver on the offensive side of the ball unless he stayed outside all the time. But when it was a guy who moved around, I followed him around. So, I just think covering man to man."
What do you make of UCF declaring themselves national champs?
"I'm happy for them. They can claim it. I have the rings and the trophies. So, it's whatever."
Contact Rick Stroud at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @NFLStroud