This fact will be hammered like a nail into the skull of everyone associated with the Packers, fans and staff alike: The Packers need to improve their secondary. Why not draft one of the best secondary prospects in the draft from the national champion Alabama Crimson Tide, Minkah Fitzpatrick. At 14 in the draft, that may seem like an impossibility for the Packers but with teams trading up to get quarterbacks and other secondary prospects draft stocks seemingly going up, Fitzpatrick could slide out of the top 10. With his versatility, character and high-level football skills, the Packers would be foolish to pass him up if he’s still availiable.
Fitzpatrick’s strengths can be characterized by his first year at Alabama. For a freshman to play at a program as elite as Alabama for a coach as renowned as Nick Saban, they must be the real-deal, since they must earn that spot from more experienced guys. By being so good, Saban had no choice but to play him and it paid off as Fitzpatrick had 45 tackles, two sacks and two interceptions that both were returned for touchdowns. As a sophomore, he had 66 tackles and six interceptions and last season, he had 60 tackles and one interception. While on the field he was a feared pass defender especially last season where he had eight passes broken up. Because of his instincts and intelligence, he can play anywhere in the secondary including safety, slot corner, nickel corner and he can even man-cover tight ends. He’s insanely good at tracking balls downfield and with his great hands he has impressive ball skills and can get interceptions. Besides defending the pass, Fitzpatrick is a great blitzer and in the ground the game he can tackle in the box and in the open field. He isn’t afraid to get physical and he’s always flying around the field and ball. Many scouts believe he is one of the elite prospects of the draft and have compared him to Tyrann Mathieu but bigger.
At times Fitzpatrick allows separation out of breaks and his feet are more quick than explosive when chasing receivers. He plays with a lot of urgency and sometimes too much is bad as football also requires patience at times. This is sometimes problematic when he comes into a tackle too hot and will run himself out of position. Lastly, when playing deep safety, he still must improve his awareness. These things obviously won’t prevent him from being looked at as an elite prospect and are easily fixable with the right coaching and experience.
Gutekunst, McCarthy and Pettine should be frothing at the mouth seeing where they pick and where Fitzpatrick could go. He would be the perfect fit on that defense with that coordinator as Pettine should help him control his urgency and utilize him to his fullest potential. The Packers are in desperate need of some real talent at secondary and Fitzpatrick is perfect because he can play anywhere that the team needs and he can be a real game-changer on defense.