The 2014 NFL Draft is one week away and the Cincinnati Bengals will be looking to add the top defensive or offensive talent in the first round. There will be just as many receivers as there are corners to select in the first round. After the playoff debacle in early January, the Bengals need some players to help improve this already stacked roster for this upcoming season. Known as “Swagger” on the field for his savvy and distinctive play, Dre Kirkpatrick has no other choice but to improve his overall game this season. Even with the talent the Bengals may add on the day of the draft, Kirkpatrick has the tools, speed, tackling ability, and knowledge to make an impact on now Paul Guenther‘s defense. Former defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer helped Kirkpatrick see the potential he could have in this league if he worked hard enough.
When you are drafted 17th overall to an already stellar defense, the expectations become extremely high, but Kirkpatrick’s rookie season was hampered by knee issues two seasons ago. Late in 2013, Kirkpatrick’s game elevated when the time was right causing turnovers against the San Diego Chargers, and against the Baltimore Ravens towards the end of last season. Joe Flacco tried to sneak a nice throw past Kirkpatrick, but it ended up in the end zone as Kirkpatrick took it to the house for his first ever pick-six.
Standing at 6-foot-2 and weighing 185 pounds, Kirkpatrick should work on getting stronger and smarter in the film room this offseason. With mentors like Leon Hall, Terence Newman, and Adam “Pacman” Jones, Kirkpatrick should have the opportunity to improve himself this upcoming season. Watching Kirkpatrick as the season rolled out last year, you could see the growth, but if he wants to become a top player in this league, it starts this offseason. Creating more turnovers and locking down receivers should help this young player emerge into a great defensive back over time.
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