Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is not the best safety in the NFL, but the second-best safety in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.
Following the 2022 season, PFF had Fitzpatrick ranked as the second-best safety in the entire NFL after earning a third first-team All-Pro selection. But a fellow AFC North knocked Fitzpatrick down one small peg to claim the top spot in the rankings ahead of the 2023 season.
Derwin James of the Los Angeles Chargers was named the best safety in the NFL due to his combination of run defense, coverage ability, and the roles he condenses. PFF believes that he could be in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation if all things go right for him.
As for Fitzpatrick, the analysts are obviously still fans of Fitzpatrick. He ranked comfortably as the second-best safety in the NFL, and the best pure free safety, seemingly beating out Tennessee’s Kevin Byard for that ranking. Fitzpatrick’s six interceptions showcase his ball-hawking ability from all different parts of the field.
“The centerpiece of the Steelers’ secondary, Fitzpatrick had an excellent 2022 season after a disappointing 2021,” PFF wrote. “His 82.4 overall grade ranked third among qualified safeties and he was one of just two safeties in the NFL to post at least an 82.0 grade in both run defense and coverage. His six interceptions, including a pick-six of Joe Burrow, tied for the NFL lead among all players. The Steelers’ cornerback position is in flux, but they can take comfort in knowing Fitzpatrick is roving behind them.”
Since coming over to the Dolphins in 2019, Fitzpatrick has earned three first-team All-Pro honors and seen his role adapted to each team overall. Last summer, he signed a new four-year extension with the Steelers that will keep him in Pittsburgh through the 2026 season as the center of the secondary.