DRE KIRPATRICK, CB, ALABAMA
TRIANGLE NUMBERS: 6-3, 186, 4.51
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.
Strengths: Elite height for a DB – Extremely physical playing the run, takes on blocks well and can deliver hits to the RB – Effective blitzing the QB – Recognizes patterns and anticipates plays, makes quick reads – Mirrors well and can run with receivers in man – Has plus recovery speed – Fluid hips and quick feet – Balanced in and coming out of his backpedal – Closes well out of zone, seems to bait opposing QB’s to throw his way – Excels on kick coverage – Gets high marks from coaches and teammates for his confidence, focus, and work ethic.
Weaknesses: Needs to work on his jam, often loses balance – Will miss some tackles gambling for interceptions and big hits – Some past injury (shoulder) concerns will need to be allayed.
Man Coverage: The tale of two tapes for Dre Kirkpatrick. He’s a physical corner that excels in press man coverage. He uses his long arms and strong frame to dominate receivers physically at the line of scrimmage. His problems come in off man and missing on the jam at the line. He’s not the most fluid athlete with tighter hips. He struggles to flip his hips and run with faster receivers as evidenced by Andre Debose running up the field vertically on him all game. He struggles to find the football with his back to the play because of a lack of recovery speed.
Zone Coverage: Kirkpatrick is a much better fit with a zone-heavy team. He has terrific instincts with superior route recognition skills. He was at his best this season sitting in zone and baiting the QB to throw underneath. He’s a really good playmaker with the play in front of him.
Ball Skills: Good but not great balls skills. He’s much more effective with the play in front of him rather than his back to the ball. He has sticky hands and his long frame allows him to make plays that other, smaller corners can’t. His instincts are very good and can make up for his lack of elite movement skills.
Tackling: Kirkpatrick will be a top tackling CB in the NFL beginning on day one. That’s how good he is. He is like having an extra safety on the perimeter of the field. He sniffs out screens and recognizes the run quickly. He’s a solid wrap up tackler and hands down the best pure tackler of this CB group. He’s a vicious tackler for a CB that will demand respect immediately in the NFL because of his hitting prowess.
Size/Athleticism: Elite size with average athleticism. Kirkpatrick is all of 6’2 with pretty good bulk. His size lends itself to being one of the more physical CB’s in this draft. He lacks a little as an athlete. He doesn’t have the straight-line speed to recover when he’s beat and will struggle against quicker receivers in off man coverage.
Bottom Line: Some zone-heavy teams should give Kirkpatrick a look in the early stages of round one and maybe in the top 10. Teams playing primarily off man won’t value Kirkpatrick as high as others. He’s a physical corner that can be counted on in run support and has the measurables to be an elite corner. Less than a week after declaring for the draft, Kirkpatrick was arrested for marijuana possession, which was later dropped. Even still, some teams will view this as a negative.
Dre Kirpatrick is a tall, athletic corner. Perfect for zone. Great size. Physical. Great tackler. Great in run support. Could probably play safety as well. Not the fastest, so might struggle with faster, smaller guys. Some character issues. Has to play outside. He has the size to matchup with bigger receivers. Needs to gain some bulk. But has all the tools to be a top corner. Have to wonder if he’ll work at it. He’s been falling in mock drafts, with South Carolina corner Stephon Gilmore rising. I’ve seen him available at 32. Do you take him? I know, Prince was drafted last year. But we saw how depth killed the Giants secondary, and adding Kirpatrick, who can play corner and safety, would add a lot of versatility to the secondary. A bit of risk, but has all the tools to be successful.