OB CHRISTIAN KIRKSEY, IOWA

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6’2” – 235 lbs. – 4.70e

STATISTICAL PROFILE:

2010: 6 – 0.0 – 0.0
2011: 110 – 5.0 – 1.0, 2 FF, 3 PD, 1 INT
2012: 95 – 3.5 – 2.0, 1 QBH, 1 FF, 1 FR, 2 PD, 2 INT (2 TD)
2013: 104 – 5.0 – 2.5, 7 QBH, 2 FF, 1 FR (1 TD), 1 PD, 1 INT

OVERVIEW:

Appeared in eleven games as a true freshman, then took over as a full-time starter in 2011, starting all thirteen games: Iowa’s first seven contests on the weakside, and the final six at the other outside spot. Was named a permanent team captain prior to the 2012 season, in which he started all twelve games on the outside.

POSITIVES:

•    Will graduate having been a productive three-year starter for a major college program.
•    Height is adequate for the outside; has also added forty pounds of bulk since 2010.
•    Has played both outside linebacker spots for the Hawkeyes, may be able to play inside.
•    Rangy player who makes plays well outside of his area based on his impressive motor.
•    Sound diagnostic skills, lets the play unfold a before committing to a course of action.
•    Frequently lines up in the slot opposite a wide receiver or tight end, drops look smooth.
•    Can work through blockers, gets impressive pop on initial contact to control interaction.
•    Respected leader who was named a permanent team captain prior to his junior year.

NEGATIVES:

•    A bit undersized for the strong side in the NFL, looks like more of a weakside ‘backer.
•    May have some trouble size-wise against tight ends, probably better covering backs.
•    Productive because of motor/instincts; slightly less athletic than most weakside guys.
•    Offers more value in zone coverage than in man, was typically asked to do the former.
•    Hasn’t done much work on the inside, may not have a natural position in a 3-4 defense.
•    Most blocks he sheds are from backs/receivers/tight ends, may struggle vs. linemen.
•    The majority of his tackles come past the line of scrimmage, also a mediocre blitzer.

SUMMARY:

Kirksey has been a reliable starter for the Hawkeyes over the past three years, combining his adequate physical tools and reasonable athleticism with impressive recognition skills and fluid coverage ability, which has allowed him to line up in the slot regularly against opposing receivers, primarily in zone coverage. Although he is active when taking on blocks, he hasn’t been asked to work through too much traffic at Iowa, which, combined with a lack of reps on the inside, creates questions about whether or not he would be able to play in a 3-4. At the next level, he’ll probably make most of his contributions on special teams, where he’s played in college, although he could also factor in as a reserve weakside linebacker, or potentially come onto the field in sub packages to cover in the slot given his extensive experience there.

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