Many mock drafts have Dre Kirkpatrick going to the Cowboys, but scouting reports say that having him at corner might not be the best idea…
Pros: “Finds the ball in the air quickly… 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…Excellent height and length for a cornerback. Kirkpatrick is one of the more physically impressive defensive backs in this year’s class…By far the best tackling cornerback in this year’s class. Hits like a strong safety…Smartly reads the quarterback and not what the receivers are doing… He’s arguably the physically impressive cornerback in this year’s draft.” (Mocking the Draft)
“He uses this [his length]to his advantage in press coverage, extending at the line of scrimmage to disrupt receivers’ routes. Actually, he’s the best zone coverage cornerback I have seen in a few years (even superior to Claiborne)…Kirkpatrick is also the best tackling cornerback in this draft class, and it isn’t close…Many of Kirkpatrick’s tackles come because he is so instinctive in zone coverage…Kirkpatrick is a top 10 or 15 talent.” (Jonathan Bales)
“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…Kirkpatrick is an effective blitzer….good tackler…Reportedly a film rookie junkie…team player. (NFL Mocks)
Cons:“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… Zone coverage will need work after playing mostly man at Alabama.” (Mocking the Draft)
Kirkpatrick’s major weakness (and the reason most have Claiborne rated higher) is man coverage. He’s serviceable on underneath routes, but he struggles on deep passes, particularly when trying to locate the ball. Some analysts say he was stiff in position drills at the combine, although I didn’t notice that. (Jonathan Bales)
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…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 N.F.L….He was less than impressive vs Alshon Jeffrey.” (NFL Mocks)
Outlook: Dre Kirkpatrick was described by one site as “an awesome prospect” but he might not be best for the Cowboys. Considering the absolute dearth of size (or for that matter talent) surrounding the secondary, one would think he would be a slam dunk, especially since his recent drug allegations (charges were reportedly dropped) would let him slide down to the Cowboys pick.
However, considering the Cowboys new found focus on drafting high character players and Rob Ryan’s preference to drafting players that thrive in man to man situations, the chance that the Cowboys will try to fit a square peg in a round hole is doubtful. I more intriguing (and realistic) possibility is moving him to free safety. A large free safety with the ball skills of a corner would serve the Cowboys well, especially since either Brodney Pool or Gerald Sensabaugh are likely to be injured in 2012.
In this scenario, Kirkpatrick would serve as a “swing man” of sorts, moving from corner to free safety as needed. This would be unlikely seeing as he might already be off the Cowboys board, but it can’t hurt to dream.