The Dallas Cowboys will host 2012 NFL Draft prospects at Valley Ranch on April 2 and 3. Among them will be Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, who has been linked to Dallas in thousands of mock drafts in the past couple of months. After being charged for marijuana possession in mid-January, Kirkpatrick’s NFL future seemed in jeopardy until the charges were dropped. If he’s one of the 30 players allowed to visit Valley Ranch, then the Cowboys still have serious interest in Kirkpatrick.
A vast majority of NFL mock drafts have Kirkpatrick going in the middle of the first round, right where the Cowboys pick on Day 1. Dallas holds the No. 14 overall pick and the Cowboys’ draft spot seems like a magnet for Kirkpatrick’s name lately, although not in Rant Sports’ recent 7-round mock draft.
Aside from the marijuana incident, Kirkpatrick is an outstanding draft prospect, especially for a team like the Cowboys. After signing former Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Brandon Carr last week, Dallas solidified its top two slots on the depth chart at that position. However, Mike Jenkins will be a free agent this time next year and the Cowboys only have three cornerbacks on the active roster, even after signing Carr.
The Cowboys need a young cornerback like Kirkpatrick regardless of whether or not Jenkins stays in Dallas beyond the 2012 season. The youngster could take over for Jenkins if needed or provide a much better option than Orlando Scandrick at the No. 3 cornerback position if Jenkins stays.
Kirkpatrick didn’t record a single interception at Alabama in 2011 and only defended nine passes. While that may seem startling at first, it’s actually very intriguing; Kirkpatrick is a shutdown cornerback who doesn’t get many balls thrown his way, resulting in minimal or no opportunities for interceptions.
At 6’2″ and 186 lbs., Kirkpatrick is excellent in press coverage, like Jenkins. The 22-year-old has ideal length for his position and possesses excellent lateral movement, which helps him jam receivers at the line of scrimmage.
Kirkpatrick’s 40-yard dash time (4.51) isn’t blazing, but he’s so good at the line of scrimmage that it doesn’t matter. This compliments his excellent zone coverage skills, which would fit Rob Ryan’s Cover 2 scheme perfectly.
If Kirkpatrick is truly innocent in his marijuana episode, then he’s a great draft prospect for the Cowboys at No. 14 overall. If it’s true and he’s going to be a distraction for the team, then for Heaven’s sake Dallas should stay away. Regardless he’s coming to Valley Ranch for a visit and very well may be the newest Dallas Cowboy at the end of April.
For Chris Ransom’s full 7-round NFL mock draft, click here.
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