Just a year ago the New York Giants were reckoned to have one of the, if not the, best secondaries in the NFL. But, after a year of attrition, a terrible season for Eli Apple, and the departures of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Ross Cockrell, the Giants are once again in need of rebuilding on the back end of the defense.
They are also going through a shift in philosophies as James Bettcher replaces Steve Spagnuolo as defensive coordinator.
The team wanted to use Rodgers-Cromartie as a free safety, likely eyeing something like the hybrid position that Tyrann Mathieu played for Bettcher in Arizona. They ultimately released DRC, creating a void both on the field and in the locker room.
Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick played a similar role in college, and is also regarded as one of the best leaders in college football. Could he help to fill both holes for the Giants?
- Highly versatile player. Able to play strong safety, free safety, slot corner, or WILL linebacker.
- Good height, weight, and athleticism.
- Has the hips and feet to stick in coverage with most receivers and running backs as well as the size to cover tight ends
- Reliable tackler, with a good closing burst.
- Capable blitzer.
- Highly intelligent player with great communication skills.
- Defensive leader, with a reputation for a strong work ethic.
- Highly productive player. 171 tackles, 16.5 for a loss, 5.0 sacks, 24 passes defensed, 9 interceptions (4 TDs), and 2 forced fumbles in three seasons at Alabama.
- Doesn’t have elite athleticism.
- Has great versatility, but isn’t a perfect fit at any one spot in a conventional defense.
- Occasionally gets overly aggressive, creating opportunities for yards after contact.
- Is a bit stiff and might struggle with more athletic receivers in coverage.
What they’re saying
Sources Tell Us
”He’s not quite on the same level of Jamal Adams when it comes to changing the entire culture of a locker room, but he is just as talented and probably more versatile.” - AFC team executive
Does he fit the Giants?
Minkah Fitzpatrick is on just about everyone’s list of elite, “blue chip” players. He is almost the perfect defensive back for the modern NFL, able to move freely from slot corner to free safety, to weakside linebacker, to strong safety.
Fitzpatrick is one of the rare recruits to start as a true freshman for Nick Saban, but considering his work ethic, it isn’t surprising. He skipped spring break in his senior year as a high school student so he could go down to the Alabama campus to shadow the football team and get a jump on learning the defense. His teammates now refer to Fitzpatrick as an extension of Nick Saban on the field, saying no other player comes closer to thinking like the all-time great coach.
Giants fans have been curious about the “Moneybacker” position that James Bettcher used Tyrann Mathieu, and it is a position that Fitzpatrick played in college -- Alabama even used the same name -- making him a natural fit for the Giants’ defense. He should be in consideration for the Giants’ pick in the first round, and it’s would be a stunning development if he falls out of the top 10.