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Raiders 2018 Draft Pick or Pass: S Minkah Fitzpatrick

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Minkah Fitzpatrick is one of the most versatile players in the draft, but is he a fit for the Raiders?

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NCAA Football: Alabama vs Southern California Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

There is no denying Minkah Fitzpatrick’s talent. The Alabama safety followed Charles Woodson and Patrick Peterson as just the third player in college football history to win both the Bednarick (nation’s best defensive player) and Thorpe (best defensive back) awards in the same season.

Despite his production, there is a chance the two-time First-Team All-American is around when the Raiders pick at 10th overall.

While he is one of the most versatile players in the entire draft, the Raiders have spent an early pick on a safety the previous two seasons adding Karl Joseph in the first round and Obi Melifonwu in the second.

Can Fitzpatrick fit in the Raiders secondary? More importantly, should the Silver and Black spend a high pick at the safety position for the third year in a row? The staff at Silver and Black Pride has the answers.

Tyler Green (@TylerGreenSB)

The argument that the Silver and Black have more pressing needs to address is valid, but this is a case where the talent of the player trumps the need. There is only one player the Raiders should consider over Fitzpatrick and that’s Penn State’s Saquon Barkley who many believe is the best player in the entire draft.

Karl Joseph is a solid safety and the jury is still out on Obi Melinfonwu, but Minkah Fitzpatrick has a legitimate chance to be a perennial All-Pro and one of the best center-fielding safeties in the NFL.

His play on the field, and personality in the locker room can change the entire culture of a defense. If he falls to ten overall, Reggie McKenzie and Jon Gruden better be sprinting to the podium.

Verdict: PICK

RDreamer (@RaiderDamus)

Typically, when you see an Alabama Crimson Tide defense, there are no freshmen on the field. It takes time for young players to learn Nick Saban’s system and to be able to handle the physical and mental responsibilities of playing at the level expected by that staff. But Minkah Fitzpatrick is an exception. He played immediately as a freshman for Bama, and played at two positions, corner and safety. He excelled at both.

If there’s one thing Reggie McKenzie values in a player, it’s versatility. Guys who can fill multiple roles and who aren’t one-trick ponies. Fitzpatrick fits that mold, being an above-average corner who could man the slot in the NFL, but who also could be a Pro Bowl free safety. His physical abilities, instincts for the game and football IQ are simply off the charts. He’s the best defensive back in this draft without question, and compares favorably to Jets first rounder last year, Jamal Adams.

What that leads me to believe is that Fitzpatrick will either be taken by the Browns at four or the 49ers at nine. I am hard-pressed to believe he would fall to Oakland, but in the event that he does, the Raiders should waste no time making him the selection.

Verdict: PICK

BD Williams (@BDWilliams18)

Minkah Fitzpatrick is the cleanest DB prospect in this class. The only knock on him is he’s so good at football teams disagree on where his best position will be as a pro—considering he played so many while at Alabama. Credit his football acumen, sources say he’s the only player Nick Saban allowed into coaches meetings. Fitzpatrick possesses ideal size and athleticism but the best part of his game is instantly reading his keys and impacting both the pass and the run. Talented in all phases of the game, Fitzpatrick is a fierce hitter who plays with his head up and cuts down ball carriers at the shoulders but then has the ability to haul in an interception and return it for a touchdown. Fitzpatrick is a proven match-up chess piece in the secondary in a time when that phrase gets thrown around all too often. Best safety prospect since Troy Polamalu. The type of player to transform a franchise.

Verdict: PICK

Ryan Lipton (@Rytime98)

While Oakland made a nice addition by signing Rashaan Melvin, McKenzie still needs to add more talent in the secondary considering Melvin has injury concerns and the other penciled in starter Gareon Conley has played in just two NFL games.

Remember, the Raiders looked like they might go the entire season without an interception in 2017. Fitzpatrick could be the game changer in the secondary they desperately need. In three seasons at Alabama, he intercepted the ball nine times including six times in one season. He also didn’t get beat for a reception longer than 31 yards in 2017, per Pro Football Focus.

Fitzpatrick is a beast with his 4.4 speed, 6-foot-1 frame and ability to play multiple positions in a complex Nick Saban defense.

In summation, he is an athletic freak, a ball hawk, versatile and doesn’t get beat deep. Yeah, this Raiders’ defense could use him.

Verdict: PICK

Levi Damien (@LeviDamien)

Fitzpatrick is a very interesting case for the Raiders. There are arguments for and against the idea of making him their selection at 10th overall. All the reasons for it have to do with his immense talent. The reasons against have to do with the Raiders roster both at safety and the far more glaring needs at other positions.

Fitzpatrick is an outstanding talent, to be certain. For the reasons many of the rest of the staff have noted above, and so I won’t repeat it. It would seem like a strange pick because the Raiders have picked a safety in the first two rounds of the last two drafts, including two years ago when they grabbed the best safety in the draft in Karl Joseph. It can be difficult for some to remember just how good Joseph was out of West Virginia. Good enough to be the 14th overall pick after tearing his ACL. We haven’t seen him at his best because he spent a season getting back to normal and then a season at strong safety when he’s better suited as a free safety.

Add Obi Melifonwu in the second round last year — a pick that was seen as a great value at the time — and the Raiders have already built the safety group through high picks. It may be somewhat of a question mark right now, but do you scrap the possibility of giving that duo a chance to succeed before ever seeing them take the field as intended? And if Fitzpatrick’s there at 10, do you suppose there would be a team looking to give up an enticing package of draft picks to move up to get him?

Verdict: PASS


Should the Raiders select Minkah Fitzpatrick?

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