Typically, first-round picks are expected to contribute immediately and make plays in the process. Every once in a while, though, they bring nothing but regrets to the team that drafted them.
That’s turning out to be the case for the Cincinnati Bengals and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick.
Kirkpatrick, the No. 17 overall pick in 2012, missed most of his rookie season while dealing with a bone spur in his knee. After expecting to return shortly after the preseason came to a close, Kirkpatrick suffered a setback and didn’t make his regular season NFL debut until Week 9. Shortly after, he landed on the Injured Reserve list following a concussion in Week 13.
Even when he was playing, Kirkpatrick was generally ineffective. He saw only 43 snaps in four appearances, racking up three tackles in the process. The majority of his playing time came on special teams, where he still struggled to make a positive impact for the Bengals.
Despite his knee being back to working order, Kirkpatrick is still failing to show the coverage skills that made him a top NFL prospect coming out of Alabama.
Through the Bengals’ first two preseason games, Kirkpatrick was average, giving up two receptions for 25 yards and notching two tackles. And then, everything went downhill.
In the Bengals’ third preseason bout, Kirkpatrick received 63 snaps as Cincinnati hoped to get a good look at what he could bring to the table in 2013. If it was a precursor of what’s to come this season, though, they might want to keep him on the bench.
Against the Dallas Cowboys, the former Crimson Tide cornerback allowed nine of the ten throws that came his way to be completed for 84 yards and two touchdowns. He also gave up 26 yards after the catch as Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams made a mockery of his coverage. When all was said and done, he had claimed a miserable -5.9 rating based on Pro Football Focus’ system.
The silver lining: Kirkpatrick played well against the run, picking up six tackles and earning a 1.2 rating in run defense. Not much consolation for how horrid he was against the pass, though.
While it’s unlikely that he’ll be cut after only one year, Kirkpatrick will sit near the bottom of the cornerback depth chart once the 2013 regular season finally gets under way. The Bengals aren’t going to be eager to risk another pitiful performance by putting the former first-round pick on the field.
Through just over a year in Cincinnati, Kirkpatrick has shown nothing to justify his lofty draft status. If he doesn’t take any significant strides this upcoming season, the Bengals might just cut their losses and move on.