Scouting The Draft: Christian Kirksey, OLB, Iowa

Reese Strickland-US PRESSWIRE

We continue to take a look at some of the top prospects for the 2014 NFL draft in relation to the New York Jets.

Introduction

After featuring a scouting report every single weekday last week, we have taken some time to load up our next batch ready for the week ahead. However I couldn't not get a single one up this week, So I'm placing this one up a little early. Recently you would have noticed my focus shifting to seniors. With the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama taking place recently, it really gave us a chance to look at some of these prospects among their peers. The guys that came out on top were the ones we all wanted to check out again. If you were already a fan and then they came out on top, it's job done. Lets go with the report now.

So that brings me to Christian Kirksey, an athletic linebacker from Iowa. A player who really turn heads in Alabama with his combination of instincts, closing speed and athletic ability. Thought of as a 3rd or 4th round prospect, this is the kind of player that can improve their draft stock in a hurry. Kirksey was a 3* prospect coming out of Missouri as a high school senior, gaining strong offers from Iowa, Kansas, Michigan State and Wisconsin, however in the end he decided to become a Hawkeye. As a senior Christian tallied 163 tackles on his way to first-team all-state honours for Missouri.

Measurables

Height: 6'2

Weight: 232 lb's

Class: Senior

Projected 40: 4.65-4.75

Statistics

Year Tackles For A Loss Sacks QB Hurries Interceptions Forced Fumbles
2013 104 5 2.5 7 1 2
2012 95 3.5 2 1 2 1
2011 110 5 1 0 1 2
2010 6 0 0 0 0 0

Positives

  • Athleticism - Shows a lot of fluidity, he's long and lean with quick feet. Can run with receivers and shows a good burst off the edge. Very agile with good lateral quickness and a very good first step.
  • Coverage - It's not often a linebacker will come out of college and have good coverage skills. He does. Has been asked to drop back a lot in college and flips the hips like a safety.
  • Stregnth - He doesn't have the weight you may expect for someone with this much strength, uses his arms well to keep clean and his hands to sustain good leverage.
  • Quickness - First step is elite, and I can't emphasis that in a hurry, shows an explosion coming down hill and I don't understand why he didn't get to the Quarterback more.
  • Instincts: When you pair a good first step, with good angles to the ball and excellent instincts...it's not surprising he has racked up the tackles in college. I love a linebacker who knows where the ball is.
  • Sideline-to-sideline - Really does have a lot of range for a linebacker and I would feel comfortably lining him up against tight ends or slot receivers, covers a lot of ground.
  • Captain: I love defensive players who were team captains, it shows leadership. He was one at Iowa.
Negatives
  • Getting to the QB: He was asked to drop a lot in coverage, but he just didn't get to the QB nearly enough for his athleticism and quickness.
  • Over Pursuing- This is something I hate. We saw this year with Calvin Pace why maintaining your containment and gap control was so important, he will lost that at times and it could cost you dearly.
  • Run Defence - This goes hand in hand with the last point, he can get caught out and although he is quick, he doesn't have the speed to pursue RB's when he is beaten.
Conclusion

I think he has a lot of versatility on the football field, as a OLB in the 3-4 or as the WLB in the 4-3. He has excellent range and coverage ability and he just strikes me as a very solid contributor for a long time. He may not have the flashy numbers, but there is just something about him that I really like. He will need some coaching, particularly against the run and I would like to see him use some other pass rushing moves other than his speed. However he intrigues me, and I've been a fan of his for the past couple of years.

Would I draft him for the Jets?

It depends on the round. I would probably have him on my board in the 4th, I may be tempted if he blows up the combine to go with the later 3rd round pick but if he fell to the 4th, I would find it hard to pass him up. Based on his coverage ability, his motor and his sideline-to-sideline speed. That's intriguing to me in a prospect coming from college. With a 4th you can put him on specials and let his nose for the ball become a real asset in year one, and then use that time to coach him up. I think he has a lot of talent, so with a 4th, I'd say yes!

Highlights



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