Broncos Draft Prospects: CB Dre Kirkpatrick

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 05: Dre Kirkpatrick #21 of the Alabama Crimson Tide pumps up the crowd during the first quarter against the LSU Tigers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 5, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

One player who has had the eye of our decision makers is CB Dre Kirkpatrick out of Alabama. According to Jeff Legwold of The Denver Post, Kirkpatrick is on The Broncos "Short List" of possible selections in the first round of Thursdays NFL Draft. Kirkpatrick was arrested for marijuana possession earlier this year, but those charges were dropped when he obtained a signed affidavit from a former Alabama player who was with Kirkpatrick when the incident occurred. The affidavit said the marijuana wasn't Kirkpatricks and that Kirkpatrick was unaware that the marijuana had been purchased.

Kirkpatrick a 24 game starter in his 3 seasons at Alabama, developed into one of the better CB's in all of college football. He was a shutdown corner for the Crimson Tides great D, and was a leader in their secondary. In his career at Alabama, Kirkpatrick totaled 91 total tackles, 8 tackles for a loss, 3 INTs, 3 forced fumbles and 1 touchdown. Kirkpatrick acquired many awards during his time at Alabama as well.

  • 2011 BCS Champion
  • 2011 2nd Team All American
  • Finalist for the Thorpe Award
  • Was apart of the No.1 Defense and Secondary in all of College Football in 2011
  • 2011 2nd Team All - SEC Team
  • 2011 Preseason All-SEC
  • 2009 BCS Champion

Kirkpatrick A 6'2 185lb junior, developed into a shut down corner for the Alabama defense last year. In his 2011 campaign, Kirkpatrick totaled 30 tackles, 4 tackles for a loss, 0 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles and 1 touchdown. He also was apart of the number one defense in all of College Football and was apart of the 2011 BCS Champs, The Alabama Crimson Tide.

Dre Kirkpatrick earned an invite to the NFL Scouting Combine

  • 40 Yard Dash: 4.51 seconds
  • Vertical Jump: 35 inches
  • Broad Jump: 120 inches
OVERVIEW:
Kirkpatrick is an early-entry junior who started for three years since stepping on campus in Alabama. He is a very lengthy corner, who will come into the league as one of the tallest alongside the Seahawks' Richard Sherman and Brandon Browning. These two players, coincidentally, showed why teams may want to develop Kirkpatrick as a corner at the next level, as they have found success at the position and been valuable by being able to cover the league's tall receivers in the red zone. Kirkpatrick could also be moved and developed at safety, where some teams might see his length and ability to play in zone more transferable, and he wouldn't be a tackling liability despite his thin frame.

ANALYSIS

STRENGTHS: Athletes like Kirkpatrick are able to defy the perception that taller skill players don't have the footwork and agility that shorter players do. Kirkpatrick will thrive initially within a zone scheme, where he can use his burst and length to cover ground and remain active in plays. He is so talented athletically that he could likely be tested early on an island in man coverage and excel, and he possesses the confidence and field presence necessary to take on such a task.

WEAKNESSES: Kirkpatrick has issues that surround all aspects of his prospects and overall value as he enters the draft. He is very thin and some will question his ability to play physically at the next level. Although technically not a tweener, as he has always played and been advertised as a cornerback, his size and athletic ability could encourage a transition to the safety position. It remains to be seen if Kirkpatrick can add weight to compete at that position after three years at Alabama where his physical development was minimal.

CBSSports.com ranks Kirkpatrick as the 2nd rated CB in the 2012 NFL Draft and the 16th overall player in the entire 2012 NFL Draft.
Man Coverage: Possesses prototypical size and strength combination to lock down NFL receivers on the outside. Long arms and attitude give him a chance to be very good in press role. Plays with natural bend and fair foot quickness in his backpedal. Hips are fluid for his size, opens them up quickly out of pedal to keep inside position while running down the sideline. Recovery speed from double-moves and pick plays is more than adequate, does not give much ground trailing on crossing routes. Can be overaggressive landing his punch in press, giving up inside position, losing his balance, or even falling down.

Zone Coverage: Mainly used in man, but flashes playmaking ability in zones, as well. Uses his size and length to close and wrap effectively after the catch. Reads quarterback when playing off, baits him to make the underneath throw then closes to make the interception or a big hit to dislodge ball from receiver. Uses length to knock away touch passes behind him and in front of the safety.

Ball Skills: Strong enough to win jump balls down the sideline or 50-50 balls over the middle. Good hand-eye coordination to knock away passes in front of receivers with off hand. Does not find the ball quickly when receiver turns to look, overruns plays too regularly. Gambles on interceptions instead of securing the tackle.

Run Support: Very physical outside, pushes aside smaller wideouts easily and does not back down from confrontations with larger players. Willing to add himself to piles. Good hustle and chase downfield to help teammates. Typically keeps outside leverage but will get aggressive, leaving the sideline vulnerable. Needs to consistently break down and keep his feet outside or NFL backs will evade him.

Tackling: Flashes pure strength to stop receivers and running backs in their tracks on the outside, should get stronger over time. Likes to throw his shoulder into receivers to force them out of bounds. Resorts to duck-and-swipe when unnecessary, which may work against college ballcarriers but will cause problems at the next level. Used on corner blitzes due to size/speed combination, forces a lot of quick throws. Willing to go for the strip, especially if ballcarrier already engaged. Negates special teams gunners on punts, stays with them with effort, physicality and speed.

Intangibles: Well-liked teammate who got the nickname "Swag" for his quiet but confident demeanor; referred to Texas as not having "swagger" during his college announcement press conference. Likes to talk on the field to teammates and get the crowd involved when at home. Praised for his strong will and work ethic. Won the team's Bart Starr Most Improved Player Award in the spring of 2011.

Scouting report for CB Dre Kirkpatrick from The National Football Post
Analysis: Possesses elite size and overall length for the position. Showcases a long, angular frame with some natural muscle tone through his arms and lower half. Demonstrates an impressive combination of patience, instincts and physicality off the line in press coverage. Displays the ability to sit low into his stance, and slide his feet laterally, mirroring off the line and funneling his man toward the sideline. Extends his arms well into contact with the ability to routinely re-route or disrupt the timing of the play Stays balanced through contact and can use his length to extend and get his hands on the football in the three step game. Doesn't possess great lateral quickness though and can be out quicked off the line at times. Uses his length to arm bar and force defenders to the sideline. However, lacks a great first step and will allow receivers to get behind him vertically. Plays fast and long when closing on the football and uses his length well to make throwing windows small around him and down the field. However, looks like a 4.5 guy when asked to turn and run vertically. Exhibits natural balance when collecting himself vertically in order to high point the football. At times will get caught drifting on the play, but showcases "plus" coordination down the field.

Is at his best however in zone coverage. Demonstrates "plus" instincts and feel in coverage, keys off the quarterback well and quickly is able to decipher routes developing around him. Exhibits impressive change of direction skills for a bigger guy in space. Can drop his pad level quickly, keeping his feet under him and is able to come out of his breaks and close on the route. Takes good angles toward the football, maximizes his length and showcases good ball skills when breaking on the action. Also, is fluid for a taller corner and can cleanly turn and run when asked to close on throws behind him. Closing speed is only solid for his size, but again uses his length to get his hands on a lot of footballs.

In off man will struggle to quickly change directions and get out of his breaks. Needs to have his hands on receivers and be physical off the line in order to consistently limit separation. Gets a bit leggy at times in space when his zone coverage turns into off man and doesn't look as natural finding the football and limiting separation.

Is the best tackling cornerback in the draft. Does a great job using his length to fend off contact, takes excellent angles toward the action and locates the football quickly. Drops his pad level well into contact, wraps and bring his legs through the man. Is an impressive open field tackler as well with the lateral quickness and range to extend his arms and get into ball carriers bodies off his frame. An ideal zone corner who deciphers run/pass keys quickly and isn't afraid to jump into run support and win on the edge.

Impression: Will be an ideal zone corner at the next level because of his size, instincts and physicality. However, he can also press off the line and consistently re-route receivers. Isn't a dynamic quick-twitch athlete, but showcases good balance, can keep his feet under him and looks like a "plus" caliber starting cornerback in the NFL. Reminds me some of Chargers cornerback Quinton Jammer physically.


Scouting report from Mocking The Drafts, Dan Kader
Dre Kirkpatrick
6'2, 186 pounds | Cornerback | Alabama

Ball skills: Finds the ball in the air quickly. Hands are below average. Kirkpatrick will never have a lot of interceptions in a season. Body control to adjust when the ball is in the air is above-average but nothing incredible.

Man coverage: Kirkpatrick is a powerful, physical cornerback who can push wide receivers around at the line of scrimmage. Could easily get up to more than 200 pounds with losing quickness. Possesses the agility and quickness of a much smaller and more compact defensive back. Can turn and run with just about any receiver and keep up. Has quick feet to flip open his hips and mirror vertically. Gave up only one touchdown in 2011, which was reportedly the first of his career.

Size: Excellent height and length for a cornerback. Kirkpatrick is one of the more physically impressive defensive backs in this year's class. Knows how to use his size, especially in man coverage.

Tackling: By far the best tackling cornerback in this year’s class. Hits like a strong safety. Will sometimes go for a kill shot and miss. Will be an asset against the run because he can easily get off blocks.

Zone coverage: Zone coverage will need work after playing mostly man at Alabama. Keeps his balance nicely in his backpedal, which allows him to wait as routes develop so he can break on the ball. Smartly reads the quarterback and not what the receivers are doing. Can get overaggressive at times. Knows when he can gamble when there is safety help over the top.

Final word: Kirkpatrick got off to a bit of a rough start to his junior season, but quickly rebounded, especially in an excellent game against Arkansas. Evaluations of Kirkpatrick naturally begin with his size. He's arguably the physically impressive cornerback in this year's draft. He's tall with long arms and a frame to get stronger.

Kirkpatrick is a player who knows how to use his size to his advantage, especially in man coverage. He's a little less experienced in true zone coverage. But with his natural talent and on-field intelligence, he should be able to adapt to any scheme.

From nflmocks.com, Jesse Bartolis
Pros:
Kirkpatrick has excellent size for a cornerback to go along with plus length. He also has great strength for a cornerback and is a nightmare for WR if he gets the press on…great instinct….his versatile is best at press coverage, but can play zone coverage because of his plus awareness…Kirkpatrick is an effective blitzer….good tackler…hard hitter…no character concerns…well coached…fluid hips to turn and run with Wide receivers. Reportedly a film rookie junkie…team player

Cons:
Not elite cornerback speed. Has great speed for his size, but his 40 his generally reported as 4.49, which is not elite, but still pretty fast….as had some shoulder injuries and will have to pass rigorous combine injury testing…doesn’t have the Patrick Peterson-like return ability…has adeqaute balance when adjusting to the ball in the air, but his ball skills are not at an elite level…may struggle with combination WR in the NFL (players with the kind of size/speed ratio he has, but who doesn’t?) He was less than impressive vs Alshon Jeffrey.
Despite the raised cons, I’m only nitpicking. Kirkpatrick is an awesome cornerback prospect.

Player comparison: The easiest comparison is Nnadmi Asmougha formerly of the Raiders, currently of the Eagles because of his similar length and speed and his ability to press wide receivers. He also is a better coverage corner and tackler than he is a ball hawk. Not saying he won’t get his hands on passes, but he’s not Asante Samuel intercepting passes.

He also has a skill set of a player like Terrell Thomas of the New York Giants, though he’s bigger and a more fluid athlete. Thomas is an excellent tackler, has scheme versatility, runs about the same 40 yard dash, is a plus blitzer. Kirkpatrick he has better hips than Terrell Thomas which will allow him to stay with the speedier WR a little more in the N.F.L. But Thomas is a good player in his own right (pro bowl caliber cornerback) and while Kirkpatrick has a higher ceiling he has a similar skill set.

Round Projection:
1st round, top 15





My Take: Kirkpatrick would be a great pick for us. Kirkpatick denies receivers a clean release, denies them separation, and he denies them an opportunity to catch the ball. He's a very physical corner who is physical in coverage and in run support. Needs to be a better wrap up tackler and work on his ball skills, but that's all teachable. After doing this, and reading up on Kirkpartick more, i fell in love with his potential and the impact he could be on the Broncos. I think learning from champ, he could become a more well rounded corner, and adding much needed depth and youth to our cornerback position. His physical nature would come in handy against the bigger receivers we have in the division, and against the smaller speedy ones. Kirkpatrick might be available at 25, but it's not a given. He has been connected to the Dallas Cowboys, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, San Diego Chargers and Tennessee Titans, all of whom pick before us.
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