Texas Christian Senior
An effective run blocker that plays with pop, is able to get position and wall off defender. Shows ability to lock onto tackle as a run blocker. Initiates contact with quick hands in pass protection. Does a good job getting out on the second level and can engulf the middle linebacker there to get the seal. Has good mean streak and does a good job finishing his blocks.
Undersized and lacks ideal strength. Can get pushed around. Needs to play with more consistent pop as a run blocker. Needs to improve his hand placement, as he can't consistently get leverage. Not a pile mover and comes out high as a run blocker at times, particularly in short yardage. Gets pushed around a bit in pass protection and can get pushed back into the backfield by the bull rush. Not a super fluid athlete when it comes to blocking on the second level and can't always lock onto the linebacker, missing assignments.
Kirkpatrick is a solid center, that does his best work as a run blocker. He's got potential to develop at the next level, just needs some time to polish his skills. TCU has produced some solid NFL reserves in recent years, and Kirkpatrick should continue that trend. A two-year starter that logged 26 starts at center the past two years.
Kirkpatrick is a guy that should be able to come in right away and carve out a niche as a backup No. 2 center. He can be developed. If anything hurts his potential to stick right away is that he probably is not a good candidate to play guard as well, which helps young centers make rosters due to versatility. But even still, he should make a practice squad at the least. He should get a year or two to develop, and by then he should find himself a role as a starter somewhere. The player I might compare him to is someone like Lyle Sendlein in terms of his NFL potential. I think down the road he can make a nice NFL starter. He is a nice run blocker because he can get position and hit his assignments downfield, but he's not a guy that is going to get a ton of push or be as reliable in pass protection. But if he polishes up his technique and shows a good grasp for assignments and reading defenses, he can be a capable, if not spectacular starting center like Sendlein. If not, then he'll be an OK journeyman reserve that bounces around the league for a couple of years.
Kirkpatrick can come to Atlanta and push for a reserve spot behind Hawley and McClure, but he's not a strong bet to win that job. He's really no different than his predecessor at TCU in Blake Schlueter, although he is much bigger than Schlueter. The Falcons can try him at guard and see how he fits there, but he's not an ideal guard, and at best you're thinking he's a practice squad guy for a year or two and then might eventually be able to slide into a reserve spot behind Hawley a year or so down the road. The Falcons would like his toughness and mean streak, but there are probably better options out there for reserve spots in the future.
For a team really looking for a long-term developmental center, they might take a look in the seventh round, but ideally he's a guy that you can wait and grab on the undrafted market.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Pass Blocking: 2.5
Run Blocking: 3.0
Mean Streak: 4.0
Scouting reports of the centers, guards, and tackles in the 2011 Draft.
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