Media Roundup: Highlights from Safety Interviews

INDIANAPOLIS — They range from athletic to hard hitting, and it was their turn to meet the media Sunday.

Safeties stepped to the podium on the final day of media availability at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine.

Here are highlights:

Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama

Pre-combine draft rankings: Mayock 1, Brooks 1

*On fulfilling his dream of being at the combine: *“It's really crazy. I remember the second night I got here, I was just lying in my bed and I started smiling. It was really … I just started smiling just because I just thought about the day. This opportunity that I have, it's just crazy. It's truly a blessing. It's an honor to be here. It's a whole lot of fun, and me and my family, we are going to continue to work, continue to just push through everything. I'm happy to be here and grateful."

On his leadership skills: “I'm kind of a combination of a do-as-I-do and a vocal guy. I've never been extremely vocal. My freshman and sophomore years, I did everything I was supposed to do, and people would just follow. Then my junior year, I was kind of challenged by Coach [Nick] Saban and my defensive backs coach to be more vocal, and I had to call some guys out and get in some scuffles or whatever, but I did it because I loved them and wanted to see the best versions of themselves. I just think a combination of the two."

Derwin James, Florida State

Pre-combine draft rankings: Mayock 2, Brooks 2

*On combine advice from former Florida State players: *“Oh yeah, I talked to both [Jaguars cornerback] Jalen [Ramsey] and [Vikings running back] Dalvin [Cook]. They both said it’s a long process, but it’s everything that you ever worked for in your life, and it’s just a blessing and an opportunity to be here because you work so hard your whole life. They just told me to enjoy it and be in the moment.’’

*On ranking the importance of interceptions, sacks or big hits: *“I would say 1-2-3 in that order, 1-2-3. I blew the guy up, but I didn’t make the tackle, so that’s 3 for me. Getting a sack means they’ve still got the ball, and No. 1 is getting the ball, so I say 1-2-3.’’

Ronnie Harrison, Alabama

Pre-combine draft rankings: Mayock 3, Brooks 3

*On being patient for playing time at Alabama: *“A lot of guys come out of high school as five-star guys and being the man at their school and then you go to Alabama, where there is a pool of guys who are good. You really have to wait your turn and learn to be patient.”

*On how being a high school quarterback helped him transition to safety: *“Playing quarterback in high school, I made a lot of checks and made a lot of calls and did a lot of the offensive work. Coming into Alabama, it was easy for me to get out there and make checks and calls in the back end. I'm used to communicating a lot with my teammates.”

Jessie Bates III, Wake Forest

Pre-combine draft rankings: Mayock 4, not ranked by Brooks

On his athletic background: “I was a three-sport athlete in high school, and I think that played a role in me being a ‘centerfielder’ [for the defense]. [One of my biggest traits is] catching the ball and making plays.”

Justin Reid, Stanford

Pre-combine draft rankings: Mayock 5, not ranked by Brooks

On his versatility: “One of my strengths is that fact that I can take it new information and process it really quickly.”

On his position flexibility: “I’m really comfortable in man coverage … but I’m comfortable bouncing all over the place. I played seven different positions when I was playing at Stanford.”

On those seven positions: “Both corners, both safeties, nickel, dime, and the X, which was like an outside linebacker.”

Marcus Allen, Penn State

Pre-combine draft rankings: Brooks 4, not ranked by Mayock

*On being fifth all-time in tackles at Penn State: *“To get an accolade like that means a lot, especially with a legendary program like Penn State. You've got all the legends from Penn State, Hall of Famers, it just means a lot, your name being mentioned with those guys.”

Quin Blanding, Virginia

Pre-combine draft rankings: Brooks 5, not ranked by Mayock

On his relationship with Vikings safety Anthony Harris: “That’s my best friend, my brother, a big mentor to me.”

On Harris having success after being an undrafted free agent: “I knew that’s what he was going to do. He had a goal and a plan … I’ve learned from him and had no doubt in my mind that’s what he was going to do.”

On combine advice from Harris: “Just trust the process and have fun with it. [Teams] are going to try and stress you out, and it’s all a mind game. You eliminate all that and just go out there and do what you do best and have fun with it.”

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