Yesterday I focused on one of my favorite prospects in the entire 2012 NFL Draft, Brandon Weeden from Oklahoma State. Today, I am going to reverse field and go with a player that I am not incredibly high on.
Dre' Kirkpatrick was considered a lock to go in the top ten when the 2011 season started, but a sub-par year at Alabama coupled with off-field issues, has caused his draft stock to plummet. Today, I am going to give you a fully detailed scouting report for the talented young player.
No. 24 on my big board.
Physical: Kirkpatrick is going to be a really good press cover man at the next level. He gets extremely physical, throwing receivers off their route early in the play. This causes tremendous issues in regards to timing on offense. He is also a willing tackler in the run game, which brings back memories of a player like Charles Woodson. Won't be a one-dimensional player in the NFL.
Size: This is something that NFL front office take seriously. The new breed of receivers have caused tremendous fits for smaller corners and teams utilizing the zone coverage on the outside. We see this a lot with fades in the end zone and short outs towards the sidelines. They won't be able to do that against Dre' Kirkpatrick because of his frame. This is a corner that stands at 6'2" and uses every inch of the frame to shield receivers from the ball.
Ceiling: This is what separates first round prospects from those of the mid-round variety, ceiling. Rarely do you see teams say "that's going to be a marginal starter, lets go for him." Due to superb athletic ability and a massive frame for a defensive back, Kirkpatrick has a tremendous amount of upside. In fact, it could be stated he has one of the highest ceilings of any defensive players in the draft.
Not scheme specific: In order to be successful, even at the college level, a corner must have some man coverage skills. While this wasn't a strength of Kirkpatrick's, he wasn't completely lost in this aspect of his game. What makes the former Alabama star compelling is the fact that he is great in press coverage. This will make his draft stock that much more valuable because teams running both defensive schemes will take a look at him.
Technique: Kirkpatrick is extremely raw in this aspect of his game. He isn't fluid in the hips, gets turned around a great deal, and struggles with on-ball ability. Three huge red flags that front offices are going to notice moving forward. If your not running fluidly down field, you are vulnerable to the comeback route and the double move. Two routes that are run a majority of the time in the NFL. Unlike college, receivers don't go simply fly most of the time. Defenses may need to rotate coverage over to Kirkpatrick's side, which causes a tremendous amount of issues. He needs to get this fixed in relatively short order.
Reaction skills: I had just mentioned on-ball ability. Due to the fact that Kirkpatrick likes to play press coverage a lot, he has issues adjusting mid-route. Once again, this makes him vulnerable to the big play. It also gives the quarterback a much larger window to throw into.
Character issues: There really weren't any character issues prior to Kirkpatrick's arrest for marijuana possession. While it isn't like he was popped for intent to sell or another felony charge, teams are definitely going to take notice of this situation. He will have to interview well at the NFL Scouting Combine and stay out of trouble for this not to effect his draft stock. Organizations are looking much closer at character issues into today's NFL, so this could hurt him.
Raw: Technique wise, Kirkpatrick makes you want to cringe. With that said, he did perform at a high level against elite competition in the SEC. Don't expect this to be the case in the NFL if this isn't fixed. He needs to hone this in order to become a true starter at the next level. This also leads me to believe that a switch to safety is a real possibility.
Draft status: Currently the fifth corner on my board behind Morris Claiborne, Janoris Jenkins, Stephon Gilmore and Jamell Fleming. Will be a first round pick, but postseason events will dictate where he goes in the initial round.
Player comparison: Jimmy Smith, Baltimore Ravens