After choosing Brian Department within the second spherical of the 2023 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions might have the following Minkah Fitzpatrick.
“He’s a task mannequin,” Department stated. “I look as much as him. I examine him to see what’s going to assist my recreation.”
Department, an Alabama product, not solely shares the faculty lineage of the Pittsburgh Steelers security, however he additionally has a few of his versatile abilities.
He can play nickel again, security or outdoors nook. He was requested the place he needs to play on the subsequent degree.
“Wherever [coach Dan Campbell] wants me to be,” Department stated. “I’m a do-it-all-back.”
Fitzpatrick began out as a cornerback at Alabama, however after senior security (and future Chicago Bears star) Eddie Jackson suffered a season-ending leg harm in 2016, Fitzpatrick replaced him at safety and earned AP All-American honors.
Department additionally had a adorned school profession. In his true freshman yr at Alabama, he began three video games and recorded 27 tackles, two interceptions and 7 move breakups within the Crimson Tide’s 2020 nationwide championship season. He led the Tide with 9 move breakups the following yr (whereas additionally recording 55 tackles).
However he actually broke out, incomes second-team Related Press All-American honors, as a junior whereas beginning all 13 video games and stuffing the stat sheet with 90 tackles, 14 tackles-for-loss, three sacks, two interceptions and 7 move breakups.
The 6-0, 190 pounder ran the 40 within the 4.58 pace on the 2023 NFL Mix
“I want he ran a little bit quicker than he did,” stated NFL Community analyst Daniel Jeremiah, who praised Department’s versatility, throughout his convention name. “He’s the perfect nickel within the draft. You possibly can play him throughout although.”
Maybe that 40 time brought on Department to fall out of the primary spherical (not like Fitzpatrick who went eleventh total in 2017) to forty fifth total this yr.
Regardless of dropping to the second spherical, Department caught round in Kansas Metropolis — not like gamers like quarterback Will Levis and cornerback Joey Porter Jr. who bolted after not getting chosen within the first spherical.
Department is glad he stayed. He praised the vibe in Kansas Metropolis and the joy in shaking NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s hand.
“I’m blessed to be right here. Not that many individuals can do that,” he stated. “I’m simply completely satisfied that I participated in that.”
When the primary spherical got here and went with out Department being chosen, he obtained a boatload of supportive textual content messages, advising him to make different groups remorse passing on him.
“It didn’t go the way in which that I needed it to go,” he stated. “However I’m blessed.”
Falling into the second spherical, although, did value him a fifth yr on his first contract.
These rookie offers are slotted and will probably be just like those that have been picked in the identical spots final yr.
Final yr’s No. 45 decide, Baltimore Ravens edge rusher David Ojabo, signed a four-year, $7.9 million contract, together with a $2.9 million signing bonus and a mean annual wage of $1.98 million.
Maybe Department can parlay his subsequent deal into a really profitable one — like Fitzpatrick, a three-time Professional Bowler, did. He’s the second highest paid security within the NFL in each complete worth ($73.6 million) and common annual worth ($18.4 million) after Los Angeles Chargers security Jalin Hyatt.
By becoming a member of the Lions, Department will probably be reunited with different Alabama gamers, together with broad receiver Jameson Williams.
“I’m very excited,” he stated. “He’s made me higher, and I’ve made him higher. Simply to be on the identical staff once more is loopy.”
He additionally will probably be on the identical upstart Lions squad as former Alabama operating again Jahmyr Gibbs, who the Lions drafted 12th overall.
“I’m able to construct with them,” Department stated.