Minkah Fitzpatrick
refer to caption
Fitzpatrick in 2019
No. 39 – Pittsburgh Steelers
Position:Free safety
Personal information
Born: (1996-11-17) November 17, 1996 (age 25)
Old Bridge, New Jersey
Height:6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight:207 lb (94 kg)
Career information
High school:St. Peter's Prep
(Jersey City, New Jersey)
College:Alabama (2015–2017)
NFL Draft:2018 / Round: 1 / Pick: 11
Career history
Roster status:Active
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Total tackles:352
Forced fumbles:4
Fumble recoveries:5
Pass deflections:36
Interceptions:13
Defensive touchdowns:4
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR

Minkah Annane Fitzpatrick Jr. (born November 17, 1996)[1] is an American football free safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Alabama, and was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft before being traded to the Steelers during the 2019 season.

High school career

Fitzpatrick attended St. Peter's Preparatory School in Jersey City, New Jersey, where he played high school football for the Marauders.[2] He was a wide receiver on offense and a defensive back on defense. In 2014, he caught 45 passes for 1,111 yards and 12 touchdowns, while recording 70 tackles and three interceptions on defense. He also ran track. He placed first at the Hudson County Championships with times of 10.86 seconds and 21.66 seconds in the 100 and 200 meters, respectively.[3]

Recruiting

Considered a five-star recruit by ESPN.com, Fitzpatrick was listed as the No. 4 cornerback in the nation in 2015.[4]

Fitzpatrick signed with Alabama at the 2015 National Signing Day,[5] after being verbally committed for almost a year.[6]

College career

As a true freshman in 2015, Fitzpatrick started 10 of 14 games, missing one game due to injury. He recorded 45 total tackles, with three for a loss, two sacks, two interceptions (both returned for scores), 11 pass breakups, one quarterback hurry, and one punt return for a touchdown.[7] He was part of the Alabama team that won the National Championship over Clemson.[8] He was named a Freshman All-American by The Sporting News after Alabama's championship season.[9]

In his sophomore season in 2016, Fitzpatrick returned an interception 100 yards in a 49–30 win over then-16th ranked Arkansas.[2] The interception broke the Alabama Crimson Tide record for longest interception returned for a touchdown. In that same game, he tied the Alabama records for most interceptions in a game (3), and career interceptions returned for a touchdown (4). In the 2016 SEC Championship Game against Florida, Fitzpatrick broke the Alabama all-time record for career interceptions returned for a touchdown (4).[10]

In his junior season in 2017, Fitzpatrick recorded 60 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, one interception, one forced fumble, and seven passes defensed.[11] He won his second National Championship as the Crimson Tide defeated Georgia 26–23 in overtime.[12]

College statistics

Season Team GP Tackles Interceptions
Cmb Solo Ast Sck Int Yds Avg TD PD
2015 Alabama 14 45 30 15 2.0 2 88 44.0 2 10
2016 Alabama 15 66 42 24 1.5 6 186 31.0 2 7
2017 Alabama 13 60 38 22 1.5 1 0 0.0 0 7
Career 42 171 110 61 5.0 9 274 30.4 4 24

Professional career

On January 11, 2018, Fitzpatrick announced his decision to forgo his remaining eligibility and enter the 2018 NFL Draft.[13] Fitzpatrick attended the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis and completed the majority of combine drills, but opted to skip the short shuttle and three-cone drill. On March 7, 2018, Fitzpatrick participated at Alabama's pro day, but opted to stand on his combine numbers and only performed the short shuttle, three-cone drill, and positional drills.

External video
video icon Minkah Fitzpatrick's NFL Combine Workout
video icon Minkah Fitzpatrick's 40-yard dash

Fitzpatrick attended pre-draft visits with the Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and San Francisco 49ers. His versatility allowed him to possibly play safety or cornerback as a professional, but Fitzpatrick expressed his desire to primarily play cornerback to multiple teams.[14] NFL analyst Mel Kiper Jr. stated Fitzpatrick may experience a slide in the draft due to not having a defined role.[15] At the conclusion of the pre-draft process, Fitzpatrick was projected to be a first round pick by NFL draft experts and scouts. He was expected to be drafted within the top 15 selections. Fitzpatrick was ranked as the top cornerback prospect in the draft by DraftScout.com and was ranked as the top safety prospect by Sports Illustrated and NFL analyst Mike Mayock.[16][17]

Pre-draft measurables
Height Weight Arm length Hand span 40-yard dash 10-yard split 20-yard split 20-yard shuttle Three-cone drill Vertical jump Broad jump Bench press
6 ft 0+18 in
(1.83 m)
204 lb
(93 kg)
31+14 in
(0.79 m)
9+38 in
(0.24 m)
4.46 s 1.52 s 2.58 s 4.13 s 6.73 s 33 in
(0.84 m)
10 ft 1 in
(3.07 m)
14 reps
All values from NFL Draft[18][19]

Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins selected Fitzpatrick in the first round with the 11th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Fitzpatrick was the first safety drafted in 2018.[20]

External video
video icon Dolphins draft Fitzpatrick 11th overall
video icon NFL Draft Profile: Minkah Fitzpatrick

On June 1, 2018, the Miami Dolphins signed Fitzpatrick to a fully guaranteed four-year, $16.4 million contract that includes a signing bonus of $10.04 million.[21][22]

2018

During training camp, Fitzpatrick competed against T. J. McDonald to be the starting free safety. He learned both safety positions and primarily ran with the second-team.[23] Head coach Adam Gase named Fitzpatrick the primary backup safety to begin the regular season, behind starters McDonald and Reshad Jones.

External video
video icon Fitzpatrick grabs first career INT off Tom Brady

He made his professional regular season debut in the Dolphins’ season-opener against the Tennessee Titans and recorded six combined tackles and broke up a pass in their 27–20 victory.[24] On September 23, 2018, Fitzpatrick earned his first career start after Jones was declared inactive due to a shoulder injury.[25] He recorded ten combined tackles (two solo) during their 28–20 victory against the Oakland Raiders in Week 3. The following week, he collected ten combined tackles (four solo), two pass deflections, and made his first career interception in the Dolphins’ 38–7 loss at the New England Patriots.[24] Fitzpatrick made his first career interception off Tom Brady in the fourth quarter on a pass intended for Phillip Dorsett, and returned it for a 14-yard gain.[26] During a Week 15 matchup with the Minnesota Vikings, Fitzpatrick intercepted a Kirk Cousins pass, returning it 50 yards for a touchdown. It was his second interception and first pick-six of his career.[27]

2019

In Week 1 against the Baltimore Ravens, Fitzpatrick made six tackles as the Dolphins lost 59–10.[28] After the game, Fitzpatrick reportedly requested to be traded because he felt like he was playing out of position and he did not like the direction the franchise was going.[29] In Week 2 against the New England Patriots, Fitzpatrick made six tackles and recovered a fumble by running back Sony Michel in the 43–0 loss.[30]

Pittsburgh Steelers

Fitzpatrick in a game against the Cleveland Browns
Fitzpatrick in a game against the Cleveland Browns
Fitzpatrick at the 2020 Pro Bowl
Fitzpatrick at the 2020 Pro Bowl

On September 16, 2019, the Dolphins traded Fitzpatrick along with their 2020 fourth round and 2021 seventh round draft picks to the Pittsburgh Steelers for their 2020 first round (Austin Jackson), 2020 fifth round, and 2021 sixth round draft picks.[31] Fitzpatrick made his debut with the Steelers in Week 3 against the San Francisco 49ers. In the game, Fitzpatrick intercepted a pass from Jimmy Garoppolo and forced a fumble off Raheem Mostert in the 24–20 loss. [32] In Week 8 against his former team, the Miami Dolphins, Fitzpatrick intercepted former teammate Ryan Fitzpatrick twice in the 27–14 win.[33] In Week 9 against the Indianapolis Colts, Fitzpatrick intercepted a pass thrown by Brian Hoyer and returned it for a 96-yard touchdown in the 26–24 win.[34] Fitzpatrick's pick six was the third longest interception return for a touchdown in team history, the second longest in the regular season. In Week 10 against the Los Angeles Rams, Fitzpatrick recovered a strip sack forced by teammate Javon Hargrave on Jared Goff which he returned for a 43-yard touchdown and later intercepted a pass thrown by Goff with under a minute in the game, sealing a 17–12 Steelers win.[35][36] In Week 12 against the Cincinnati Bengals, Fitzpatrick recorded six tackles and recovered a fumble forced by teammate Devin Bush on Tyler Boyd and returned the ball for 36 yards in the 16–10 win. [37]

2020

In Week 6 against the Cleveland Browns, Fitzpatrick recorded his first interception of the season off a pass thrown by Baker Mayfield and returned it for a 33-yard touchdown during the 38–7 win.[38] In Week 8 against the Baltimore Ravens, Fitzpatrick forced a fumble on quarterback Lamar Jackson which was recovered by teammate Robert Spillane and later broke up a pass thrown by Jackson in the endzone with no time left on the clock to secure a 28–24 Steelers' victory.[39] In Week 9 against the Dallas Cowboys, Fitzpatrick recovered a fumble forced by teammate Cameron Sutton on CeeDee Lamb, intercepted a pass thrown by Garrett Gilbert and broke up another Hail Mary pass thrown by Gilbert late in the fourth quarter to secure a 24–19 Steelers’ win. [40] In Week 11 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Fitzpatrick recorded two interceptions off passes thrown by quarterback Jake Luton, propelling the Steelers to a 27–3 victory and their first 10–0 start in franchise history.[41][42]

2021

On April 27, 2021, the Steelers picked up the fifth-year option on Fitzpatrick's contract, worth a guaranteed $10.612 million for the 2022 season.[43][44] On November 15, 2021, Fitzpatrick tested positive for COVID-19 and was put on the Steelers' Reserve-COVID list.[45]

NFL career statistics

Legend
Led the league
Bold Career high

Regular season

Year Team Games Tackles Interceptions Fumbles
GP GS Cmb Solo Ast Sck PD Int Yds Avg Lng TD FF FR TD
2018 MIA 16 11 80 51 29 0.0 9 2 64 32.0 50T 1 0 0 0
2019 MIA 2 2 12 8 4 0.0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 1 1 0
PIT 14 14 57 36 21 0.0 9 5 130 26.0 96T 1 1 2 1
2020 PIT 16 16 79 60 19 0.0 11 4 70 19.3 37 1 1 1 0
2021 PIT 16 16 124 84 40 0.0 7 2 18 9.0 18 0 1 1 0
Career 64 59 352 239 113 0.0 36 13 289 22.2 96T 3 4 5 1

References

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  4. ^ "Minkah Fitzpatrick". ESPN.com. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
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