Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick was the Dolphins' no-brainer pick at 11.
And he would have been, even if UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen was on the board.
So in the end, the Dolphins were true to their word.
Ryan Tannehill is Miami's starter in 2018 — and quite possibly beyond.
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With their first-round pick Thursday night, the Dolphins never had to choose between Rosen, the fourth quarterback taken in the draft's first 10 picks, and Fitzpatrick, the seventh-best player in the draft, according to NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah.
But had Arizona not moved up from 15 to 10 to land Rosen, and had Rosen fallen to the Dolphins at 11, Miami still would have selected Fitzpatrick, the Miami Herald has learned.
"I had no clue honestly of where I was going," Fitzpatrick said. "... It's a great program. I'm just happy to be selected by the Dolphins."
Fitzpatrick (6 feet even and 204 pounds) lined up at both safety and corner for Nick Saban at Alabama. The Dolphins see him as a safety who can also cover the slot, but added he will "play wherever the team needs me."
On the surface, the Dolphins did not fill a need with Fitzpatrick. They already had two starting safeties on the roster — Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald. And Virginia Tech strong-side linebacker Tremaine Edmunds was available.
However, the value was too good to pass up.
And his versatility allows the Dolphins to move McDonald to linebacker, if they so choose, or simply reduce his role.
For the second time in as many years, the Dolphins did a good job masking their interest in their first-round target. Like Charles Harris in 2016, Fitzpatrick did not visit Dolphins headquarters. He had minimal contact with the organization outside of the draft.
“For us, he was a player that was a targeted player," Fitzpatrick. "He’s a unique kid when you meet him. Unbelievably smart, loves football. Obviously he’s one of Nick Saban’s favorite players. This guy played right."
The Dolphins were particularly impressed that Fitzpatrick made an impact right away for college football's premier program, playing as an 18-year-old at Alabama. They hope for the same easy transition to the pro game.
"At the end of the day, this guy is a football player," Grier said. "He creates turnovers. He’s had a bunch of touchdown returns as well on those. This was a player we just felt, at that point, that we could not pass up."
The Dolphins did entertain, albeit briefly, trading up for one of the three other quarterbacks that went in the top 10 (Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield, USC's Sam Darnold and Wyoming's Josh Allen), but the asking price was too high, Grier said.
Instead, they took a player expected to contribute right away — perhaps even start.
"That will play out here in the spring and summer," Grier said. "I think for him, it’s a great mix now. He has a little different skill set than the other two guys. From there, they’re going to battle it out this spring. It’s all about competition and we’ll see how it plays out."
The Dolphins still have a big hole at linebacker, but Miami could address that in the draft's next two days. Plus, McDonald could play there, and the Dolphins are bullish on Stephone Anthony, who will compete for a spot.
More than anything, Miami needs someone who can cover the tight end. Fitzpatrick did that in college, although not a ton.
"I'm a physical guy," Fitzpatrick said. "I know they can't run by me."
His measureables back that up. Fitzpatrick ran a 4.46-second 40 at the Combine. He will cover anyone that goes out for a pass in the NFL.
"He gives your defense a chance to be flexible and do a lot of different things," Grier said. "It’s his football intelligence, his love for football and he’s been a productive player from the minute he stepped on campus at arguably one of the best programs in college football."