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DAVIE (CBSMiami/AP) — The Miami Dolphins could have gone in several directions with their first round pick.
Minkah Fitzpatrick dressed right for his role Thursday at the NFL draft in Dallas, wearing a white double-breasted suit that looked like it was straight out of “Miami Vice.”
Next stop: South Florida.
The Dolphins selected the versatile All-America safety from Alabama with the 11th overall pick. Fitzpatrick was widely projected as a likely top-10 pick and said he had no inkling he would wind up with Miami, which made his eye-catching choice of outfits a happy accident.
“I was just trying to do something that wasn’t too bright, wasn’t too flashy, but also stood out a little bit,” he said with a laugh.
What the Dolphins liked most about Fitzpatrick’s look were the two national championship rings he wore. He became a starter as a freshman and helped the Crimson Tide win titles in 2015 and 2017.
He had a school-record four interception returns for touchdowns at Alabama and gives the Dolphins a playmaker in the secondary, where he’ll be paired with Pro Bowl safety Reshad Jones.
“My dream wasn’t just to make it to the NFL, but to be a great player in the NFL,” Fitzpatrick said. “This is just the beginning.”
The Dolphins need the 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.
At Alabama, Fitzpatrick ranked among coach Nick Saban’s favorite players. In Miami he’s expected to be deployed on occasion as a linebacker, as a blitzer or against big receivers.
“He’s a unique kid,” Dolphins general manager Chris Grier said. “Unbelievably smart. Impeccable character. This is a player we felt we could not pass up.”
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.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)