What to Know
The Miami Dolphins allowed 24.6 points last year to rank fourth-worst in the NFL.
The new player had a school-record four interception returns for touchdowns at Alabama.
There had been speculation Miami might devote its first-round pick to a quarterback for only the second time since 1984.
The Miami Dolphins watched an early run on quarterbacks in the NFL draft and then opted for defensive help with the 11th overall pick Thursday, selecting versatile All-America safety Minkah Fitzpatrick of Alabama.
Fitzpatrick had a school-record four interception returns for touchdowns at Alabama and gives the Dolphins a playmaker in the secondary. He'll be paired with Pro Bowl safety Reshad Jones.
The Dolphins needed defensive help. They allowed 24.6 points last year to rank fourth-worst in the NFL, and salary cap concerns then led them to release their best defensive player, five-time Pro Bowl tackle Ndamukong Suh.
There had been speculation Miami might devote its first-round pick to a quarterback for only the second time since 1984, but four QBs were taken in the top 10 picks. The Dolphins will instead wait until a later round to draft a potential eventual successor to Ryan Tannehill — if they do so at all — and Luke Falk of Washington State might be the choice.
They'll also try to address needs at linebacker, tight end and defensive tackle in coming rounds. Their picks in the second and third rounds Friday are Nos. 42 and 73 overall.
Fitzpatrick, a starter since his freshman season at Alabama, ranked among coach Nick Saban's favorite players. He was widely projected as a top 10 pick, and is expected to be deployed on occasion as a linebacker, as a blitzer or against big receivers.
Dolphins General Manager Chris Gier said Fitzpatrick is one of Alabama coach Nick Saban's "favorite players" and will play as a safety.
"He's like a Swiss Army knife," Grier said of the new Dolphins player. "Ryan is our guy. We believe in Ryan”
Grier said Fitzpatrick is a player who is "unbelievably smart" and "loves football."
Fitzpatrick's NFL Draft and Combine Profile.