NFL Hot Press: Some Teams Rate Derwin James Over Minkah Fitzpatrick

Some Teams Rate Derwin James Over Minkah Fitzpatrick

Updated March 16, 2018
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick has been considered the consensus top safety prospects through the lead up to the 2018 NFL Draft. Fitzpatrick has been projected to be a top-five pick in many mock drafts and has been considered to be one of the top prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft class, regardless of position. In a Hot Press article at the NFL Scouting Combine, two teams picking in the top 10 told me they didn’t view Fitzpatrick as a dynamic talent. In speaking to team sources, some teams have graded Florida State’s Derwin James as the top safety prospect in the 2018 draft.

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound James is a bigger and more physical defender than Fitzpatrick. James is a hard hitter and is more of a freakier athlete. Fitzpatrick (6-0, 204) ran well at the combine with a 40 time of 4.46 seconds, but James ran almost as fast, just one-hundredth of a second slower despite being obviously much bigger than Fitzpatrick. Two teams picking in the teens told me that they had Fitzpatrick higher than James, and both of them would love it if Fitzpatrick fell to them. Hence, opinions are going to vary across the league based on defensive scheme. The type of safety teams need will also factor into how they rate them.

The draft is always a beauty in the eye of the beholder, but multiple teams picking in the top 10 that could use help at safety have told me that James is the highest-rated safety on their draft board. Some mock drafts have James slipping into the middle or late in the first round, but teams are projecting him higher, and they think that James has a definite shot at being a top-10 pick this April.