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Should Cards Acquire A Fitz of the Defense?

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Miami Dolphins OTA Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins have allowed 2nd year SS Minkah Fitzpatrick, the #11 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, to seek a trade. The Dolphins have said they would like a 1st round pick in return, but the word is that they might be willing to accept a 2nd rounder.

In 2017, while leading the University of Alabama to a national championship, Minkah Fitzpatrick was the flat-out All-American stud of their secondary. He can play all 4 positions in the secondary and play them well. Here is Lance Zierlein’s (NFL.com) scouting report:

By Lance Zierlein

Minkah Fitpatrick Draft Projection: Round 1

NFL Comparison: Antrel Rolle

Overview

“Fitzpatrick turns up the intensity level as high as it will go and and rips off the knob until the game is over. Fitzpatrick has experience as a slot cornerback, but will likely be targeted as a “do-everything” safety who can be deployed as a sub-package linebacker, a blitzer or in the slot against big receivers and move tight ends. Fitzpatrick has consistently shined since his freshman season on Alabama defenses that have been loaded with NFL talent. His versatility, football character and desire to succeed should make him an early starter.”

If you are Steve Keim would you try like crazy to acquire Fitzpatrick?

I would offer the 2020 2nd Round pick and if need be, I would add in a 4th round 2021 pick.

I am not so sure the Dolphins will receive a 1st round offer based on the fact that Fitzpatrick was only average his rookie year (61.9 PFF grade) and is coming off his worst game as a pro (27.3 PFF grade), where he gave up 6 receptions in 6 targets for 111 yards (one for 83 yards) and 3 TDs. As a rookie he gave up 35 receptions on 62 targets for 416 yards and 1 TD to go with 80 tackles and 2 interceptions at SS. Those were solid numbers for a rookie.

Here are the reasons why I think Fitzpatrick would be an excellent fit:

  1. Fitzpatrick is a natural leader who needs a coach like Vance Joseph to help him take his game to an elite level.
  2. Year after year, we are seeing the Cardinals’ defense get consistently thrashed by tight ends, just as rookie T.J. Hockenson did in the pro debut last week catching 6 passes for 131 yards (21.8 ave.) and 1 TD. Fitzpatrick has the length, speed, agility and ballhawking skills to be a very effective cover man on TEs.
  3. Plus, Fitzpatrick can play sticky man from the slot or in press coverage on taller WRs.
  4. He is an outstanding blitzer.
  5. D.J. Swearinger is in a contract year and just turned in one his worst games as a Cardinal, earning a poor 45.2 PFF grade versus the Lions. Swearinger struggles in man coverage at SS. In my opinion, Swearinger is a better fit at FS. But Budda Baker is at FS now.
  6. Fitzpatrick’s cap hits are a steal (because the Dolphins have already paid his $10M signing bonus): 2019—-$1.2M; 2020—-$1.98M; 2021—-$2.27M—-2022—-5th year option.

The one question I have is whether the Cards already have a starting SS of the future in Deionte Thompson or Jalen Thompson? In terms of covering TEs, of the two thus far, Jalen Thompson shows the stronger technique and shadowing ability, but Deionte has the better size and with proper teaching could be a versatile SS/FS.

I will tell you this—-I like the Thompsons a lot—-but adding Minkah Fitzpatrick to our young secondary would make it potentially elite—-and with Fitzpatrick’s leadership ability, he could become the Fitz of our defense for years to come.

It’s time to have an answer for covering TEs. For that reason and the opportunity to add dynamic, young leadership, I would love to see the Cardinals trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick.

It would be an interesting tale of trades—-the Cardinals traded the #10 pick of the 2018 NFL Draft (QB Josh Rosen) to the Dolphins. Could the Dolphins turn around and trade the #11 pick in the 2017 (S Minkah Fitzpatrick) to the Cardinals?

What are your thoughts? Do you say “Yay” or “Nay”?