In ESPN Mel Kiper's first mock draft, the Jets select Alabam CB Minkah Fitzpatrick with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Fitzpatrick is widely considered the best cornerback among this year's prospects, and Kiper even views him as the best secondary man who can also play safety. The Jets already have two stout safeties in rookies Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye this season, but adding another dynamic player to the bunch would only enhance an already young defense that is on the verge of breaking out.
"Fitzpatrick is the top cornerback and safety in this draft," Kiper writes. "He could play either position. He was primarily a safety at Alabama, but he covered receivers in the slot and on the outside, and he consistently made plays. New York took safeties with its top two picks last year (Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye), so Fitzpatrick would be a corner for the Jets, who have an opening with Morris Claiborne a free agent this offseason."
An Old Bridge, N.J. native, Fitzpatrick has been making an impact at Alabama since stepping foot on campus in 2015. He won the national title his freshman season after totaling 45 combined tackles (three for loss), two sacks, two interceptions, and 10 passes defended in 14 games. This season, the 6-foot-1, 202 pound defensive back tallied 60 combined tackles -- a career-high eight for loss -- 1.5 sacks, one interception, and seven passes defended.
Fitzpatrick not only won the national championship as well this year, but he was named the 2017 Chuck Bednarik Award winner for Defensive Player of the Year, and the 2017 Jim Thorpe Award winner for Most Oustanding Defensive Back.
Kiper notes that the Jets could also look at one of the quarterback prospects considering there situation at the position.
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While he had a versatile role at Alabama, with plenty of reps as a slot corner or as a linebacker in dime packages, the majority of Fitzpatrick's reps were at the safety position. He has played some cornerback in the past, but it's difficult to project whether he'd be able to step in on the outside and start from day-one.
Fitzpatrick's ability to play either spot is reminiscent of Jalen Ramsey, who has developed into an excellent cornerback at the NFL level, but he was easier to project because he played mostly at cornerback in his senior year. There's also the perception that Alabama cornerbacks generally take a little longer to find their comfort level at the NFL level because Nick Saban favors different techniques to most NFL teams. Having said that, Marlon Humphrey seemed to make the transition well this year with the Ravens.
If the Jets manage to address their quarterback spot before the draft -- or if they have doubts about the quarterbacks available with the sixth pick, then Fitzpatrick could be an option. However, there will be other options that might provide a more obvious immediate upgrade at a position of need.