If there was any doubt about who the best safety was in the NFL at this point, Pro Football Focus put those doubts to rest Wednesday.
According to PFF’s Marcus Mosher and his positional rankings at safety, Pittsburgh Steelers star safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is the game’s best, landing at No. 1 overall in the rankings Wednesday ahead of names like Los Angeles’ Derwin James, Buffalo’s Jordan Poyer, Tampa Bay’s Antoine Winfield Jr. and Baltimore’s Marcus Williams.
On the season, Fitzpatrick has an overall grade of 86.4, which ranks first overall in the NFL. After signing a market-setting extension in the offseason to become the then-highest paid safety in football, Fitzpatrick has more than lived up to expectations this season. On the year, Fitzpatrick has recorded 73 tackles, four interceptions and a pick-6, which came in Week 1 in the overtime win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
His play in the secondary has been pivotal for a Steelers defense that has had its ups and downs this season due to injuries and inconsistent play, so it’s no surprise to see him ranked the top overall safety in the NFL.
“Fitzpatrick is having another strong season for the Steelers, thriving in coverage and as a run defender,” Mosher writes regarding Fitzpatrick’s top overall ranking, according to PFF.com. “He’s already recorded four interceptions, which makes this the third time in four seasons he’s hit that mark. Fitzpatrick also sports the league’s top coverage grade among safeties (85.9), and opposing quarterbacks have just a 71.8 passer rating when targeting him. He is a complete player who is as shrewd as they come.”
Since coming over to the Steelers via a shocking trade in 2019, Fitzpatrick has been a complete player, one that’s transformed the Steelers’ defense the last four seasons.
HIs ability to handle multiple roles within the defense from a single-high centerfield safety to slot and box responsibilities has allowed the Steelers to do a variety of things defensively over the years. This season, he’s been able to d jump more routs due to his aggressiveness and has really helped take away the middle of the field in the passing game as quarterbacks attempt to avoid him more and more.
He’s a ball-hawking defensive back that consistently puts up numbers and makes game-changing plays. The Steelers were fortunate to get him in a trade with the Dolphins and have received quite the return on investment from the perennial All-Pro and Pro Bowl safety.