With a defensive that finished sixth in total team defense for the 2012 season, it is hard to imagine that without losing any of their main players that said defense could be better. That is the case for the Cincinnati Bengals and what they can do as a defensive team for the 2013 season.
Having missed out on playing most of his rookie season due to injuries, Dre Kirkpatrick has the chance to help make the Bengals defense become a top five defense in the league by him being on the field. Coming out of Alabama, Kirkpatrick was seen as the best or at the very least one of the three best cornerbacks available in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Kirkpatrick’s ability to play pressman coverage makes him an ideal fit for the Bengals defensive philosophy under coordinator Mike Zimmer. Therefore his inability to get on the field much at all deprived Zimmer of having a cornerback that would have allowed him to do different things schematic wise.
A healthy Dre Kirkpatrick is sure to see the field and if all goes well in training camp, he will be a starter opposite of Leon Hall come Week 1. What makes it a near certain that Kirkpatrick will be a starter from Week 1 is that he is without a doubt, there most talented player in the secondary and he has no other viable competitors for a starting position.
At this point in his career, Adam Jones is a nickel cornerback, while the likes of Terrence Newman, Shaun Prater, and Brandon Ghee are guys who are more depth players than players the Bengals are seriously counting on to contribute significantly next season.
While Kirkpatrick, in many ways, remains a bit of a mystery given that his injury situation limited him from playing much in 2012, his talent and the fact that he plays for a defense coordinated by one of the best suggests that we will a Dre Kirkpatrick can and should make the Bengals defense, one of the five best in the league in 2013.