If you're trying to figure out why people are so high on Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, you're going to have to dig a little deeper than his statistics. In three years, Kirpatrick made just three interceptions and 86 tackles. There will be countless cornerbacks who do not get picked in the 2012 NFL Draft with considerably more impressive numbers than those.
Yet, most seem to agree that Kirkpatrick will be one of the top defensive players in the draft, assuming he comes out. A lot of that is because he was so good, teams just decided to stay away from his side of the field. No pass defense was better than the Rolling Tide's this year, as they allowed just 116.3 passing yards per game.
Kirkpatrick is currently the No. 19 overall prospect according to Mocking the Draft and the second best cornerback, after LSU's Morris Claiborne. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers seem to be a likely landing space for Kirkpatrick, as they are in need of playmakers all over the field. In fact, in two recent SB Nation Mock Drafts, that is exactly where he ended up:
Who knows what this team will do in the draft. Some think Trent Richardson could be the pick here. They could stand some defensive improvements, and addressing the cornerback spot with a player of Kirkpatrick's ability is the best can they can do.
Analysts seem to like Kirkpatrick's size (6-foot-2, 192 pounds) and see him as someone who can help against the running game, but some of his technical skills have been questioned.