Posts Tagged With: Minkah Fitzpatrick

NFL’s Top 100: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (#100)

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

Beginning in 2011, the NFL Network has surveyed NFL players to compile an annual ranking of the league’s top 100 players. The list is unveiled in a multi-part series during the offseason, with each episode profiling 10 players on the countdown to the No. 1 spot.

Because the ranking is decided by players and not the media or fans, those who often don’t get mainstream attention receive their just due: e.g., offensive linemen, linebackers who don’t get a lot of sacks, guys who standout on bad or small-market teams.

That’s good for defensive backs. Continue reading

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Six DBs picked in 2018 NFL Draft first round

Denzel Ward

In the months leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft, Ohio State’s Denzel Ward was widely considered the best cornerback in the pool. Cornerback also happens to be one of the most coveted positions in the NFL.

So why was it such a surprise — drawing a harmonized “Whoa!” from the NFL Network’s TV panel of experts — when Ward was the first defensive back chosen in Thursday’s first round?

Probably because in a vast majority of mock drafts, the first defensive back to come off the board was a safety: Either Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick, or Florida State’s Derwin James. That Ward went No. 4 overall to the Cleveland Browns was also a surprise, as many prognosticators had the Browns taking NC State pass-rusher Bradley Chubb in that spot. Continue reading

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Defensive backs took over the 2018 NFL Combine

Derwin James

The final day of the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine was the most busy in terms of action on the field, as a group of 70 defensive backs (43 cornerbacks, 27 safeties) performed drills and showcased their skills in preparation for this year’s NFL Draft.

There were more defensive backs at the Combine than players at any other position, and it was the largest group of DBs in the event’s history.

According to the majority of reviews and recaps I’ve read, and after watching most of the DBs do their thing on TV, the biggest fish in the big pond was Florida State safety Derwin James. Continue reading

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Defensive backs to watch in the College Football Playoff

Clemson’s Ryan Carter

Defense hasn’t necessarily been the name of the game ahead of the 2018 College Football Playoff, even though three of the four teams involved field three of the nation’s best defenses.

Alabama allows the fewest points (11.5 per game) of any team in Division 1-A. Clemson ranks second, giving up 12.8 points per game, and Georgia is tied for third (with Wisconsin) at 13.2 points allowed. The fourth team in the playoff, Oklahoma, didn’t crack the nation’s top 50 defensively (25.0 points allowed), but the Sooners make up for it by leading the nation in offensive yards (583 per game) and ranking fourth in scoring with 44.9 points per game. Continue reading

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Fitzpatrick leads college football’s award-winning DBs

Minkah Fitzpatrick

As a collective unit, Alabama has had the best defensive backfield in college football for at least the last three seasons — which coincides with the rise junior Minkah Fitzpatrick, the Crimson Tide’s do-everything DB who has lined up at safety, cornerback, and any other uniquely-named hybrid position that coach Nick Saban wants to use that particular week.

Fitzpatrick has been one of college football’s best defensive players during his time in Tuscaloosa, and earlier this month he earned two of the highest honors that a Division-1 defensive back can receive — short of the Heisman Trophy — when he won both the 2017 Chuck Bednarik Award and the Jim Thorpe Award. Continue reading

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Pick Six: Players of the Week

Minkah Fitzpatrick

Minkah Fitzpatrick

Six secondary standouts from football’s week that was:

1. Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama (NCAA) — I have to wonder how many NCAA Division-1 teams the Crimson Tide could beat if their offenses didn’t score at all. Alabama’s defense and special teams are so potent, you could pair them with South Carolina’s offense (the worst in the SEC) and they’d probably still be playing for a national championship next month.

After surprisingly falling behind 7-0 to Florida in Saturday’s SEC title game, ‘Bama responded with a field goal, then took the lead on Fitzpatrick’s interception and 44-yard return for a touchdown. Soon after that, they extended the lead with a blocked punt return for another touchdown and cruised to a 54-16 victory. Continue reading

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Pick Six: Players of the Week

Darius Slay Jr.

Darius Slay Jr.

Six secondary standouts from football’s week that was:

Darius Slay Jr., CB, Lions (NFL): In 2015, Josh Norman went from being occasionally mentioned as one of the most underrated cornerbacks in the NFL to being regularly touted as perhaps the best corner in the league. And that transformation seemed to happen overnight.

In 2016, Slay is the best candidate to make a Norman-like leap into the elite. During the offseason there was a growing buzz around Slay, who had declared himself one of the league’s top corners and appeared to gather some co-signers around the same time the Lions inked him to a four-year, $50 million contract extension despite Slay having yet to make a Pro Bowl roster.

On Sunday against the undefeated Eagles, Slay took a big step toward getting the mainstream recognition he wants. Continue reading

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Pick Six: Players of the Week

Michigan State v Michigan

Six secondary standouts from football’s week that was:

Jalen Watts-Jackson, S, Michigan State (NCAA): Surely you’ve seen the play by now, but you may not know anything about the player who finished it. Michigan was ahead 23-21 with 10 seconds left against cross-state rival MSU and was being forced to punt. The Wolverines’ punter couldn’t handle the snap and lost the ball, which landed in the hands of Watts-Jackson, who ran it back 38 yards for a touchdown as time expired. Unfortunately, Watts-Jackson dislocated his hip during the play and had to be taken off the field on a stretcher while the celebration went on around him. That injury will sideline him for the rest of the season. Watts-Jackson is a redshirt freshman safety who doesn’t start for the Spartans, and in Saturday’s 27-23 victory he didn’t record a tackle or any other stats before that fumble recovery and score. With one play, he became a legend in East Lansing and a likely ESPY nominee, plus he kept MSU’s undefeated record intact and kept them in the national championship playoff picture. Continue reading

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Pick Six: Players of the Week

Iowa+v+Wisconsin+Wq3ffpXMx7hx

Six secondary standouts from the football weekend:

Desmond King, CB, Iowa (NCAA): As a unit, the Hawkeyes’ defense thwarted 19th-ranked Wisconsin in a 10-6 upset victory on Saturday, Iowa’s first win over a ranked opponent in 10 tries. As an individual, the junior King was the standout with nine tackles, two interceptions and two pass breakups.

Janoris Jenkins, CB, Rams (NFL): Odell Beckham Jr. almost recreated his famous one-handed catch in the Giants’ win over the Bills on Sunday, but he landed out of bounds. Which means the best catch of the NFL’s Week 4 that counted was Jenkins’ end-zone interception of Arizona QB Carson Palmer in which he trapped the ball against the back of his helmet — similar to David Tyree’s famous Super Bowl snag. Jenkins added five tackles and two pass breakups in the Rams’ 24-22 victory, handing the high-powered Cards their first loss of the season. Continue reading

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