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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Minkah Fitzpatrick understands the value of his skill set.
At 6-foot-1, he hits like a safety. His speed, 201 pounds, hip movement and feet might make him more tailored to cornerback.
So the Alabama star is spending this weekend explaining to NFL scouts he can excel at either, both or some combination of the positions.
''It's a different kind of position,'' said Fitzpatrick, kind of like a combination between safety and corner,
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, describing the slot corner
spot he played in college. ''I like to play both safety and corner,
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, so I think slot corner is optimal for my abilities.''
If true, Fitzpatrick would be one of the rarest commodities in football - a tweener with an actual fit.
it's because team executives
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,Traditionally when players at the NFL's annual scouting combine are explaining what position suits them best
aren't sure where they should play and the player's draft stock sinks.
But Fitzpatrick's physical gifts could make him a trend-setter in a league that has become increasingly more pass-happy and places a
premium on versatility.
He was recruited as a true cornerback, won the starting job and never relinquished it. Coach
, moved to slot corner before the 2015 season
one-on-one.,Nick Saban was so impressed he usually paired Fitzpatrick on the opponent's top receiver
It didn't take long for Fitzpatrick to make an impact.
he earned first-team All-American honors in 2016 and 2017.,After being selected to the SEC's all-freshman team in 2015
where teams are trying to figure out what Saban once did - the best place for Fitzpatrick to play.,Now he's off to the NFL
nickel and dime linebacker,''I think he could play all six defensive back positions. Both corners,'' NFL Network draft
, both safeties
is that a good thing or a bad thing? I've had a couple
,analyst Mike Mayock said Saturday. ''He's the only guy I can say that about. Now
is he a difference-maker? Is he a nickel? Where's his ball production?' He had six picks two years ago,of coaches say to me, but
only had one this year. But I look at (his versatility) as a positive.''
Mayock's sentiment may explain why Fitzpatrick appears to have a slight edge on his competition right now. He's projected to be a top-five
Some expect Ohio State's Denzel Ward, to be selected in the top 10 with Florida State safety Derwin James the only
, a true cornerback
other defensive back tabbed for the top 20.
The workouts in Indianapolis, will help determined the actual pecking order in April.,
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,which conclude Monday
But one thing working in Fitzpatrick's favor: work ethic.
he sometimes helped his father fix trucks.,
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,While growing up in New Jersey
Fitzpatrick helped his parents rebuild.,
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,After the family's home collapsed during Hurricane Irene in 2011
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,And when the Catholic high school he attended provided peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to students who couldn't afford school lunches
Fitzpatrick ate them up.
So when he arrived at the combine,
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, the reality finally hit., less than two months away from possibly hitting a multimillion-dollar jackpot
I was laying in bed,''It's really crazy, looked up at the ceiling and just
,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I remember the second I got here
it's been a long trek here for Fitzpatrick and his family.,Yes
Yet he hasn't forgotten his blue-collar roots, so far., his humble perspective on life or his passion for football. It's served him well
''I think he's going to go out there and run like a corner, and if you're a defensive coordinator and take him
, have the size of a safety
is he my nickel? Or is he a piece
,in the top 10, you've got to have a plan, is he my corner,'' Mayock said. ''What is he? Is he my safety
that I can match up week to week against a big wideout or a tight end? How you use him is ultimately going to determine the value of
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