2021 NFL Draft: Dez Fitzpatrick Player Profile

Dez Fitzpatrick 2021 NFL Draft Overview

Position: Wide Receiver
Height: 6’-2”
Weight: 209 pounds
School: Louisville

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Dez Fitzpatrick 2021 NFL Draft Profile

From Waterford Mott High School in Michigan, Dez Fitzpatrick was a highly-touted four-star recruit with offers from excellent college football programs, such as Michigan, Cincinnati, and Michigan State. The ninth-ranked high school player in Michigan in the class of 2016, Fitzpatrick ultimately chose to play for Bobby Petrino and the Louisville Cardinals. 

In 2016, Fitzpatrick redshirted after not breaking into the wide receiver rotation, retaining a year of eligibility. As a redshirt freshman, Fitzpatrick caught passes from former NFL MVP Lamar Jackson. He played in 12 games, catching 45 passes for 699 yards, and nine touchdowns, which tied a freshman record at Louisville. Fitzpatrick was also an honorable mention for the All-ACC team, highlighting his impact. While Fitzpatrick wasn’t the fastest receiver, he flashed solid route-running skills and hand usage in press coverage, which led to a productive 2017 season. 

In 2018 and 2019, Louisville didn’t have the caliber of quarterback play that Fitzpatrick had in 2017, since Jackson had declared for the NFL draft. After finishing 18th in the country in passing yards per game in 2017, with 294.5, Louisville finished with just 215.4 in 2018, 81st in the country, with Jawon Pass at the helm. As a result, Fitzpatrick’s production fell, catching just 31 passes for 422 yards, while also decreasing his yards per reception by 1.9 to 13.6.

It was a much better story for Fitzpatrick in 2019, where Louisville averaged 235.3 passing yards per because of improved play by Malik Cunningham. Fitzpatrick had just 35 catches, but he averaged a ridiculous 18.1 yards per catch, totaling 635 yards on the season. From weeks three to six, Fitzpatrick had at least 100 receiving yards each week, including a seven-catch, 133 yards, and one touchdown performance against Florida State.  

Finally, in 2020, Fitzpatrick had his best season in his college career, forming an incredible one-two punch with Tutu Atwell. He had 43 catches for 833 yards and three touchdowns on the season. Against Boston College, Fitzpatrick had a career day with eight catches for 182 yards and a touchdown. 

In the senior bowl, Fitzpatrick continued to impress, taking home the Offensive Player of the Game with six catches for 90 yards. As a whole, Fitzpatrick displayed a unique skill set in the college. Although he is a “big-bodied” receiver, he has incredibly quick cuts, making him an NFL-caliber route runner for his size. He also showed reliable hands, including this catch below in the senior bowl, but there could be more to be desired in jump ball situations. 

Strengths

  • Above-average quickness for his size
  • Formidable route runner from slot or boundary
  • Surprised scouts at pro day with speed, running a 4.46 and a 4.26 short shuttle;
  • Reliable hands and route running could allow him to contribute in the NFL on offense right away;
  • He has the frame, 6’-2’’ to grow into a solid run blocker and jump-ball threat;
  • Speed and size could make him a “gunner” on special teams early in his career.

Weaknesses

  • While he is quick for his size, he isn’t a threat after the catch (not much YAC potential);
  • Needs to add strength to consistently beat press coverage;
  • Not quick enough to consistently play in the slot, but needs to fine-tune route running to play on the outside;
  • May not have the upside of other potential Day three picks.

NFL Comparison: Chris Godwin

Teams with a Need at Wide Receiver: Baltimore Ravens, Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions

Projection: Fourth-Sixth Round

Bottom Line on Dez Fitzpatrick

His lack of an “elite trait” may give Dez Fitzpatrick a lower ceiling than other prospects, but he has the highest floor of most day three prospects. Thus, allowing him to be a viable choice for a third or fourth receiving spot in his rookie season. Even if he is not an immediate offensive contributor, he offers great special teams potential. With quality coaching and strength training, he could potentially become a starting “X” receiver.

In an excellent receiving class, Fitzpatrick initially fell to day three range due to his average upside and athleticism. It was not until an outstanding Senior Bowl and pro day performance that saw his stock rise once again. Wherever Fitzpatrick is picked, he could be a gem with his NFL-ready frame and skill set.

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Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images


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