Former Bama football standouts land No. 1 position rankings in NFL

Minkah Fitzpatrick Signs Record Deal

By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Sam Thornton

TUSCALOOSA-The National Football League’s executives, players, coaches and scouts voted this week on individual position rankings for the upcoming season. The voting survey, developed by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, saw two former Alabama standouts in cornerback Patrick Surtain II and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick land No. 1 rankings in their respective positions.

Fitzpatrick, a two time national champion with Alabama and All-Pro first team selection last season for the Pittsburgh Steelers, has earned a valuable reputation as a redefined Swiss army knife safety.

“Best in the game, and it’s not close,” an NFL personnel director said about Fitzpatrick per Bleacher Report. “You have to keep him moving because if he’s stationary, coordinators can plan for him, but every single play, there’s that feeling of, where is he going to be?”

Not only has Fitzpatrick established himself as the best safety in the league, but several experts consider him one of the best overall defensive players. His No. 1 ranking was propelled over talented safeties in Derwin James Jr. (Los Angeles Chargers) and Justin Simmons (Denver Broncos).

Surtain, a national champion and 2020 SEC Defensive Player of the Year at the Capstone edged out Sauce Gardner (New York Jets) for the top cornerback ranking. His physical nature and all around “complete corner” mold has prompted him as one of the most entertaining players to watch in the NFL.

“He’s a true matchup guy vs. the best players. Premium ability on press or off coverage. Outstanding open-field tackler. Solid ball skills. Plays with confidence. Really, really smart. And plays disciplined so he doesn’t give anything away,” an NFL official said about Surtain per Bleacher Report.

In 2022, Surtain ranked as the seventh best corner in the league from the same league wide survey. This season, he generated a major leap by daring opposing offensive coordinators to throw in his direction. As a result, Surtain had the lowest target rate of all cornerbacks with at least 201 snaps, per ESPN.

The Pro-Bowl talent that Surtain carries will only increase in 2023 playing alongside a deeply talented Denver Broncos defense. In addition, Surtain is entering a season where contract extension discussions will begin, giving him another element of motivation to earn a high scoring contract.

The two talents earned the highest praise from Alabama head coach Nick Saban during their time in Tuscaloosa.

“He’s the kind of guy that’s very easy to talk to,” Saban said in 2017 about Fitzpatrick. “He’s just a very easy guy to like. You like being around him. He’s certainly one of those guys that makes it fun to coach.”

Surtain’s noticeable praise began shortly into his freshman campaign when he earned a full time starting position.

“He’s got maturity about him that’s beyond his years, and he’s been a really, really consistent player. He’s bright, he’s smart, he’s got very good football intuition. He understands what you’re trying to get done and what you’re trying to do and goes out there and executes it fairly well, especially for his experience and his age,” Saban said in 2018.

Both Surtain and Fitzpatrick have used fuel from Saban to finish what they started at the next level.

Two other former Alabama players cracked the top 10 list within the cornerback rankings including Marlon Humphrey and Trevon Diggs.

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