Editor’s Note: As we get ready for the 2012 NFL Draft, we’ll be “meeting” some players who just might find their way to Buffalo come April. In this series we’ll take a look at possible Bills draft picks and break down their abilities and potential.
Overview: This very talented corner had a big year for college football’s best defense. But should a couple of red flags (a recent marijuana arrest and poor technique) scare teams off?
Strengths: Great size (6’2) and long arms. Good athleticism – fast enough to cover even the fastest NFL wideout. Good recovery speed as well. Very productive on a great defense in college. Tough, aggressive, and competitive. Annoys the heck out of opposing receivers with his style. Very effective in press coverage. More than willing (in fact, a bit too willing) to help in run support. Not afraid to lay a big hit. Plays very hard with a great motor.
Weaknesses: Despite great coaching and two years in the starting lineup at Alabama, Kirkpatrick is still really raw technique-wise. You have to be concerned that he’s not receptive enough to coaching. Relied mostly on talent in college, which won’t fly in the NFL. Not all that strong and some of the bigger/stronger NFL wideouts might run right through him. A little stiff in the hips – more fast than quick. Arrested on a marijuana charge earlier this week.
How He’d Fit in Buffalo: Buddy Nix likes physical corners, and Kirkpatrick fits the bill. The Bills could really use another corner, and you could do a lot worse than Kirkpatrick. He’d give the Bills a trio of young corners along with Justin Rogers and Aaron Williams that you’d have to be really excited about. If he really does have an attitude problem though, he’d struggle in Buffalo. Chan Gailey wouldn’t put up with that.
The Bottom Line: Kirkpatrick’s a boom-or-bust proposition. His ceiling is really high, but so is his flameout potential. I’m not super concerned about the off-the-field stuff, but I can see how that might scare the Bills off. Great corners are really hard to find, so I’d say he’s worth the risk.