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Dez Fitzpatrick

Scouting Notes: Dez Fitzpatrick, WR, Louisville

Redshirt Senior | 6’2” 210 lbs | Farmington Hills, MI | December 17th, 1997

 

A savvy route runner who can create separation in multiple ways but struggles in contested catch situations

 

Overview:

Dez Fitzpatrick came to Louisville as a 4-star recruit and has been a key contributor since his redshirt freshman year, hauling in 111 catches for 1,756 yards and 18 touchdowns heading into 2020. He took a handful of snaps in the slot but was primarily used as an outside receiver in the Cardinals’ spread offense that featured a vertical passing attack. The Farmington Hills native excels at the line of scrimmage and can manipulate defenders to get open, but he’s not a natural hands catcher and lacks the leaping ability to win in contested catch situations.

Strengths:

– Good acceleration off the line of scrimmage to eat up defenders’ cushion against off coverage and force them to turn and run quickly against soft press coverage
– Versus press coverage, he varies the tempo of his release to throw off corners’ punch timing, has very good foot quickness and dips his shoulder to get skinny and avoid contact
– Quickness and ability to avoid contact also shows up in the five-yard window past the line of scrimmage
– Manipulates defensive backs by attacking their leverage, giving head fakes and using rocker steps to win at the top of routes, and he’s good at selling the run on play-action and the first move on a double-move route to create multiple yards of separation
– Has good spatial awareness when running routes to isolate defenders and give himself more room to get open, especially when near teammates in a bunch formation
– Uses speed cuts on 90-degree routes with impressive explosion out of the cut
– Able to turn defensive backs around on double moves with head/shoulder fakes and his change of direction skills
– Extremely quick at the top of routes, putting pressure on corners’ reaction skills
– Makes smooth and quick adjustments to back shoulder throws
– Fights for every yard after the catch with good quickness and elusiveness to make people miss and shows solid strength when using a stiff arm

Areas to improve:

– Can get caught with his hands down at the line of scrimmage, making him susceptible to aggressive press corners
– On mesh concepts versus zone coverage, he struggles to recognize where the open window is
– Doesn’t have the long speed to be a deep threat on go routes
– Can’t ask him to make sharp 90-degree routes, and curls are his worst route because he runs with his chest/shoulders up and doesn’t sink his hips to make hard cuts or stop
– Lacks the vertical to high point the ball in contested catch situations
– Body catcher who lets the ball come to him and doesn’t attack it in the air, making him reliant on getting separation to haul in receptions
– Inconsistent production with a tendency to disappear in some games
– Adequate run blocker overall who takes terrible angles when blocking in the box, not very physical at the point of attack or and doesn’t have the play strength to get much movement

Injury concerns:

N/A

Projection:

At the next level, Fitzpatrick projects best as an outside receiver and would be a good fit in an offense that doesn’t ask its wideouts to make a lot of sharp cuts. He could be a team’s third option as a rookie and shows the skills to develop into a solid number two down the road. As for the draft, the Cardinal projects as a third- to fourth-round pick.

What to watch in 2020:

Can he show more in contested catch situations and be a more consistent producer week in and week out? Separation windows shrink in the NFL, meaning Fitzpatrick will have to start attacking balls in the air and learn how to win at the catch point to become a legitimate weapon. Also, consistency is king at the next level so the disappearing acts – i.e. only racking up 11 catches for 164 yards in the final five games of 2019 – have to stop if he’s going to become a legitimate number one or two option.