I’m going to start a five part series on defensive draft prospects that should be at the top of Carolina’s list when the 2012 Draft comes rolling around in April. I’ll Start with Dre Kirkpatrick, a cornerback from Alabama.
Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama (CB)
Morris Claiborne from LSU would be the ideal pick at this position, but seeing as how Claiborne will probably be a top 5 pick, Kirkpatrick will be the best available defensive back when their pick rolls around. Kirkpatrick is a big, physical corner, weighing in at 6-3, 192 lbs. And he comes from a team that knows nothing but winning. He’s already won one national championship at Alabama and in a couple days he’ll be playing for a shot at his second.
Kirkpatrick doesn’t have any eye-popping stats, but that is because most quarterbacks are smart enough to not throw the ball in his direction. With his size, he is a great asset in run support. He rarely allows opposing running backs to turn the corner, and is also very good at jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage. Its not often a draft prospect comes along with Kirkpatrick’s size and speed at the corner position. He’ll definitely be having a lot of teams going after him, and the fact that he could be a two-time national champion will only add to his lucrativeness.
I think this could be a strong possibility for the Panthers, seeing as how they had one of the NFL’s worst pass defenses this past season. Honestly, there is only one guy that is good enough on this Panther roster to be starting on Sundays, and that’s Chris Gamble. Captain Munnerlyn plays hard, but simply lacks the speed and size to be productive in this league as a starting corner. This would give Carolina two dependable corners that have the ability to shut down the opposing team’s passing game, making them one-dimensional and easier to defend. And with Ron Rivera being a defensive type of coach, I think it could be a strong possibility that Kirkpatrick could start next season in a Panther jersey.