Houtz: Is Minkah Fitzpatrick the Dolphins' best first-round pick in 20 years?
Minkah Fitzpatrick has been nothing short of amazing in his first two NFL starts.
In week 2, he made a critical 4th down stop at the goal line vs Tennessee, which ultimately decided the game. Fitzpatrick combined for six total tackles vs the Titans, and made key stops when the team needed it most. He was all over the field, and showed off his skill-set as a sideline-to-sideline defender.
On Sunday-against Miami’s division rival the New York Jets-Minkah allowed zero completions.
He also recorded three tackles and much like his previous game vs Tennessee, was making plays all over the field. On Sundays, he has done everything you could ask for from a rookie first-round pick. But what about off the field?
The day after the game, in between his workouts and tape study, Minkah Fitzpatrick filed a patent for the phrase “FitzMagic”. Consider that his first NFL interception, as he beat the ageless wonder Ryan Fitzpatrick to the term.
This again proves, there’s nothing Minkah Fitzpatrick can’t do.
During his time at Alabama, Minkah won several national championships. He was one of only three players in college football history to win the Jim Thorpe award as the Nation's top defensive back, and the Chuck Bednarik as the Nation's top defensive player.
If his first two games are any indication, Minkah Fitzpatrick could go down as one of the best defensive backs in team history. But before we anoint him king, let's pump the brakes for a moment and tackle another important question.
Is Minkah Fitzpatrick the Dolphins best first-round draft pick in 20 years?
Let's take a look first at the unusual suspects.
Every Dolphins first-round pick in the last twenty years
1998: John Avery, running back (29th overall)
2001: Jamar Fletcher, defensive back (26th overall)
2004: Vernon Carey, right tackle (19th overall)
2005: Ronnie Brown, running back (2nd overall)
2006: Jason Allen, defensive back (16th overall)
2007: Ted Ginn Jr., wide receiver (9th overall)
2008: Jake Long, left tackle (1st overall)
2009: Vontae Davis, cornerback (25th overall)
2010: Jared Odrick, defensive tackle (28th overall)
2011: Mike Pouncey, center (15th overall)
2012: Ryan Tannehill, quarterback (8th overall)
2013: Dion Jordan, defensive end (3rd overall)
2014: Ja’Wuan James, right tackle (19th overall)
2015: DeVante Parker, wide receiver (14th overall)
2016: Laremy Tunsil, left tackle (13th overall)
2017: Charles Harris, defensive end (22nd overall)
Miami made 16 picks in the last 20 years. Of those picks, only five were defensive players.
In 2001, the Dolphins drafted Jamar Fletcher 26th overall. He played 41 games for the Dolphins from 2001-2003, recording 51 tackles, 1 interception and 1 fumble recovery. To say he had a good career in the NFL, would be detriment to the word good.
Flash forward to 2006, when Nick Saban thought he had things figured out. He drafted Tennessee defensive back Jason Allen, with the intent to have him play safety in addition to corner. Allen played for the Dolphins from 2006-2010, amassing 123 tackles and 4 interceptions. Much like Fletcher, he would finish his career as a journeyman, who never lived up to his pre-draft potential.
The only other defensive back selected by the Dolphins in the first-round over the last 20 years, was the man that wanted to call his grandma after Joe Philbin released him on HBO's Hard Knocks. Miami drafted Vontae Davis 25th-overall in 2009 and unlike those players mentioned above, he looked the part of an aggressive shutdown corner at times during his career.
Davis played in Miami from 2009-2012. During his time in South Beach, Davis recorded 117 tackles and 9 interceptions. He also went on to have solid seasons in Indianapolis, and most recently Buffalo where he retired at halftime.
Is FitzMagic a better player than those defensive backs listed above? I know it's early, but I absolutely believe he is.
So what about the players on the offensive side of the football?
For me, only three players have the potential to rival Minkah Fitzpatrick as the Dolphins top first-round draft pick since 2008?
First, let's take a look at Mike Pouncey.
Pouncey was with the Dolphins from 2011-2017 and was voted to the Pro Bowl three consecutive years for his play at center. When he was on the field, Pouncey was one of the better centers in football. His time in Miami will be overshadowed by his involvement in Bulley Gate and his inability to stay on the field. When he was healthy, his consistent play on the field makes him one of the better draft picks in the last twenty years.
Ryan Tannehill is one of the most polarizing players in South Florida.
Fans and analysts love to debate whether or not the quarterback can put the team on his back, and win meaningful football games in January. But make no mistake about it, Ryan Tannehill is the best quarterback the Dolphins have had since Dan Marino retired back in 2000.
During his first seven seasons in the NFL, Tannehill has eclipsed 18,853 yards, 110 touchdowns and 68 interceptions. His play early on in 2018, should put an end to any debate on whether or not he's the guy in South Beach. Is he the best draft pick in the last 20 years? It's hard to argue he's not the most important to the franchise moving forward.
The last name to be considered when discussing the top draft picks for the Dolphins over the last two decades, is Jake Long.
Miami selected Long with the first-overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. He played for the Dolphins from 2008-2012, where he won several first-team accolades, in addition to being voted to the Pro Bowl four consecutive seasons. His play at left tackle, solidified one of the better offensive lines in recent memory. Jake Long was one of the best at a position that many consider to be one of the most important on a NFL roster. Unfortunately for Long, his body began to deteriorate and he never received a second contract in Miami.
Now that we broke down the Dolphins first-round draft picks over the last twenty years, what is your opinion?
Is Minkah Fitzpatrick the Dolphins best first-round draft pick in the last 20 years?
Let us know in the comment section below.