ED note: Starting today, we’ll be rolling out draft profiles of the top prospects widely expected to come off the board in the first round. In our ongoing effort to cater to the short attention spans of today’s youth, they’ll be presented in a quick-hitting format, which will include the prospect’s vitals, along with the opinions and criticisms of draft experts. Sit down, students, let’s begin…

The first round of the 2012 draft will feature quite a few members of Alabama’s national Championship-winning defense. Courtney Upshaw, Dont’a Hightower, Mark Barron, and Dre Kirkpatrick are projected to hear their names called on April 26th.

Where Kirkpatrick will land isn’t so cut and dry. From as high as seventh to as low as 27th, the projections for “DreKirk” are widespread, and there are whispers that Dallas is interested in switching Kirkpatrick to free safety like Brian Dawkins.

Let’s take a closer look at the Tuscaloosa product.

Vitals

Height: 6’3″

Weight: 186 Pounds

Class: Junior

Born: October 26, 1989

Combine Numbers

40-yard dash: 4.51

Vertical jump: 35 inches

Broad jump: 120 inches

Arm length: 30 5/8 inches

Hands: 9 ½ inch

Did not take part in bench press, shuttle or 3-cone drills.

College stats

2011: 13 GP, 30 tackles, 9 pass break ups

2010: 13 GP, 53 tackles, 7 pass break ups, 3 interceptions

2009: 13, GP, 8 tackles

What the experts say

National Football Post:

“Will be an ideal zone corner at the next level because of his size, instincts and physicality. However, he can also press off the line and consistently re-route receivers. Isn’t a dynamic quick-twitch athlete, but showcases good balance, can keep his feet under him and looks like a “plus” caliber starting cornerback in the NFL. Reminds me some of Chargers cornerback Quinton Jammer physically.”

Mike Mayock:

“He’s big and he’s long. I’m not sure what he’s going to run (in the 40). Some people might even think he could convert to safety down the road,” Mayock said. “He’s a kid I really like a lot, but is that too high for him? Because sitting there at 8 or 9, you’ve got to get the best football player on the board.”

CBS Sports:

“There are plenty of game tapes that show Kirkpatrick has all the athletic ability, instincts and tenacity to be a great cornerback. Scouts need to watch the tapes because statistics don’t tell Kirkpatrick’s story. In three seasons he had only three interceptions — all in 2010 — but his strength is in how he plays the man more than how he plays the ball.”

NFL.com:

He is so talented athletically that he could likely be tested early on an island in man coverage and excel, and he possesses the confidence and field presence necessary to take on such a task.

Don Banks:

“Many analysts have Kirkpatrick as the draft’s second-highest rated cornerback overall, but I think South Carolina’s Gilmore runs him down and passes him up by late April. “

Walter Football:

“Shortly after declaring for the draft in January, Kirkpatrick was arrested. However, the charges, for pot possession, were dropped. The marijuana, allegedly, was owned by a friend who was in the car with him. Having the charges dropped definitely helps Kirkpatrick, but NFL teams will still question his decision making and his off-the-field associations.

Todd McShay:

“The knock on him, outside of the baggage, is that he gets there and bats down a lot of balls and is in position to make tackles after the catch, but doesn’t make a lot of big plays.”

Mel Kiper Jr:

This is a big, physical corner who doesn’t give up much in coverage given his size (nearly 6-3), which makes him particularly good inside the red zone. He’s also tough against the run.”

Teams in the top 10 may shy away from taking Kirkpatrick due their concerns about his makeup. But on talent alone, the Junior is a top ten player.

With Dallas slated to bring him in for a visit in early April, look for the Cowboys to select Kirkpatrick at 14, leaving the Bengals to hope he slides to 17.

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