Cleveland Browns: Derwin James vs. Minkah Fitzpatrick

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 08: Minkah Fitzpatrick
ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 08: Minkah Fitzpatrick /

The Cleveland Browns still need some defensive help. Despite the addition of T.J. Carrie and Terrence Mitchell at cornerback, safety remains a need in this year’s NFL Draft. Thus begins the debate, Derwin James or Minkah Fitzpatrick?

Defensively, the 2018 NFL Draft is one of the deepest in a long time. With prospects like UTSA’s Marcus Davenport and Alabama’s Rashaan Evans in the front seven, this draft is looking absolutely stacked with defenders who will keep offensive coordinators up at night.

Luckily for the Cleveland Browns, who need help on defense, two premier safeties will be waiting for them in the first round. As two completely different animals, Florida State’s Derwin James and Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick have garnered arguments amongst fans and analysts.

So, which safety prospect have greater success at the next level? Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, which will fit better in Cleveland? Let’s compare the two and take a look.

The case for Minkah Fitzpatrick comes just as much from the mental side as the physical side. Fitzpatrick is a leader with a never-say-die attitude, and has the lowest bust potential of any prospect in this class.

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Fitzpatrick has ideal size for the position (6-foot-1, 204-pounds) and although he ran just a bit slower than anticipated (4.46 in the 40-yard dash), he is still just as dangerous. He hits like a train, is a ballhawking safety, and does just about everything well.

All things considered, the best ability is availability. Perhaps Fitzpatrick’s best attribute is his ability to play all over the field. made note of his plug-and-play abilities at Alabama.

"“With his versatility, he can play nickel corner over slot receivers, cover tight ends in man, and be the deep free safety center fielder who protects the deep part of the field. He also can function as a strong safety and be the eighth man in the box.” — Charlie Campbell, Walter Football"

Derwin James, on the other hand, is just a freak athlete. 6-foot-3, 211-pounds, and running a 4.47 40-yard dash, James has all the physical tools. He works as a great strong safety, and can also move into the box.

At some point this past year, James dropped out of top-10 consideration in the 2018 NFL Draft. However, after his Scouting Combine performance, he seems to be moving back up lately.

Perhaps in the past regime of the Browns, where athleticism and explosiveness reigned supreme, James would have been the pick. However, with John Dorsey and the Browns Brain Trust at the helm now, things may be different.

Dorsey, Highsmith, and Wolf know that the Browns need a locker room leader. Especially in the wake of Joe Thomas‘ retirement, the Browns are in the market for a new voice for the 53-man roster. Minkah Fitzpatrick can be, and will be, that voice.

Fitzpatrick is the one prospect with next to no chance to be a bust. The Browns need sure things on their team, and they can benefit from this pick. While Derwin James is nice, and could be a huge asset, he just isn’t what the Browns need right now.

Next: Talking Sam Darnold with former NFL QB Dan Orlovsky

Will Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick be the number four overall pick? Maybe, maybe not. Should he be the number four overall pick? Definitely.