Has a tall, long build, showing good potential to match up with the bigger wideouts in the league. Has good athleticism and feet to mirror in coverage. Comfortable working in both off or press coverage, showing potential in the latter to ride receivers and get them off their routes. Can be physical in coverage, as he's willing to fight for inside position when defending the fades or comebacks. Has good ball skills, able to sit back and read the quarterback and break on the throw. Is in good position against the quick slants. Flashes good awareness when working in zone. Has good closing burst on the ball when he can keep things in front of him. His closing burst on the ball allows him to deliver some hits on the edge to the receiver or ballcarrier. Shows ability to get upfield off the edge and disrupt run plays in the back. A very capable gunner on punt coverage.
Has a thin build and durability is a concern. Is an underwhelming tackler that tackles too high at the point of attack. Does a poor job wrapping, tending to duck his head and lower his shoulder, not really seeing what he hits. Struggles to get off blocks on the edge at the point of attack. Doesn't take great angles to the ball when he gives up the underneath catch. Will get sucked up at times by the play fake, getting caught with his eyes in the backfield. Doesn't consistently backpedal on his drops. Doesn't always show the ability to turn and run with receivers and will get handsy if/when they can get by him.
Kirkpatrick has the height and athleticism that could make him a very good press and matchup corner at the next level. But he doesn't do a lot of the little things you want in a top corner prospect, and his thin build makes him a very underwhelming run defender. He'll throw his weight around, but he'll miss more stops than he makes, and benefits from the talent around him that covers up for a lot of his mistakes in run support. He was not targeted a lot during his final year at Alabama, which at least partially explains the drop in production. He has been noted for being a bit too brash and confident that borders on cockiness. He was busted for marijuana possession this past January less than a week after declaring for the draft, when he was driving a friends' car. But the charges were dropped after his friend accepted blame for the incident.
2011 GAMES WATCHED:
(10/22) vs. Tennessee: 1 missed tackle; 2 targets, 2 rec., 6 yds, 3.0 avg, 1 YAC, 0 TDs
(11/5) vs. LSU: 0.5 stuffs; 2 penalties (def. holding, false start on punt); 1 tgt., 0 rec., 0 yds
(1/9) vs. LSU: 1 TFL; 1 tgt., 1 rec., 8 yds, 2 YAC, 0 TDs
2011: 13 GP/13 GS, 30 tackles, 4.0 TFLs, 0 sacks, 0 INTs, 9 PD, 2 FF, 0 FR
Kirkpatrick has a lot of potential, but he's a bit of a boom/bust guy. If he booms, then he can be a top matchup corner. In the sense that h can be a guy that won't make a ton of plays, but he can force offenses to avoid his side of the field. If he's a bust, he'll never really be the reliable or consistent starter that you can trust. He won't be a bust in the sense that he's going to be the next Mike Rumph. But he'll be a bust in the sense of like Antonio Cromartie or DeAngelo Hall, he may create more headaches than he's worth. Cromartie is probably the best comparison because like Cromartie he has excellent size, good ball skills, and has the potential to be a solid press-man corner. But also he's a very underwhelming run defender and not known for his upstanding character. He can potentially get better as a run defender, but really needs to add some bulk to his frame. He's had some durability issues while at Alabama, with a bunch of nicks here and there. And with his frame, he really needs to be at least 15-20 pounds heavier. In a press-man scheme like most 3-4 teams, he'll be a functional, but probably inconsistent starter at the least. He does have potential to develop, and if he can polish up his technique, footwork, and become more disciplined he can live up to it. But in my experience, undisciplined corners in college tend to be undisciplined corners in the pros. I think he's good enough to come in right away and be a starter, although he'll probably undergo some growing pains as a rookie. But the best situation will be if he comes in and is asked to be the No. 2 guy, and is playing across a more experience and consistent veteran that can take him under his wing and show him the ropes. Without that veteran, of if he's asked to be the No. 1 guy right away, it'll be harder to work out those bad habits down the road. Both Hall and Cromartie had early success in the pros, and I think it hurt their development in the long run because they never developed the attention to detail or work habits necessarily to become better players. A place like Pittsburgh or Green Bay would be examples of ideal places for him to land. Because he'll get the veteran presence, and the quality of playmakers around him there won't be pressure that he'll have to be an impact player right away. And thus teams can be a bit more patient with him and give him time to work out the bad habits he's liable to develop. I wouldn't bet him on him ever developing into a guy that is consistently ranked among the top corners like a Revis or Asomugha, but I do think he can be an asset in the right scheme similar to Ike Taylor in Pittsburgh that if developed correctly can do more good than bad.
Antonio Cromartie, Jets.
Kirkpatrick is a better fit for the Nolan-style defense than any on this roster because he's the big press man corner that 3-4 scheme tends to favor. He would be a good replacement for Robinson because he offers a similar skillset in coverage, but with better ball skills and awareness. The only difference is that Robinson usually is a much more reliable run defender than Kirkpatrick has shown to date. As a rookie, Kirkpatrick really wouldn't do a lot because he's not a great fit in the slot. The Falcons could tinker with moving Grimes to the slot in the nickel, and letting Kirkpatrick play outside, but that's not a long-term strategy. And despite Robinson being a more traditional fit in the Nolan scheme, he appears to be a bit closer to the end than Grimes, thus it would Dunta that is the more likely to move aside for Kirkpatrick in 2013. Having Grimes across from him would be better than it is in a lot of NFL cities, but it's probably not the ideal situation for Kirkpatrick to reach his full potential. But he still should have the ability to develop into a quality starter that can be one of the better No. 2s in the league long-term if he never becomes that reliable No. 1 guy. But he could definitely be a nice asset to have to lock horns against the Larry Fitzgeralds and Calvin Johnsons of the NFC in the future.
Kirkpatrick's upside to be a good matchup corners merits first round status. But because he's a boom/bust guy, he's better value at the end of the round rather than its middle. A 3-4 team or any team that uses a lot of press man and is looking for an immediate No. 2 guy that could grow into a No. 1 wouldn't be reaching too much if they took in the Top 20.
1-pathetic, 2-poor, 3-weak, 4-below average, 5-average, 6-above average, 7-good, 8-very good, 9-excellent, 10-elite
Man Coverage: 7.0
Zone Coverage: 6.5
Ball Skills: 7.0
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.