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My next stop on the IDP scouting report trail is LB/S Christian Kirksey, the former Hawkeye.  I reviewed four of his 2013 collegian games against Michigan, LSU, Minnesota, and Nebraska to get a better feel for what he brings to the kirkseyCleveland Browns defense and to your dynasty IDP teams.  I will admit it is somewhat difficult to project him at an inside linebacker spot, because he played more of a hybrid outside linebacker/strong safety role at Iowa. 

 

Kirksey spent half of his time split out lining up across the slot receiver and the other half cheating up to the line of scrimmage almost right beside the defensive end in a two point stance.  He got very physical with the receivers, almost mugging them on pass routes for the first five yards and tended to trail them by a few yards if they could get past him.  I believe he could be more effective against running backs and tight ends than he fared against slot receivers.  On running plays, Kirksey crashed down pinching the tight end, wide receiver, or running back in his way.  This forced the play either inside or more out wide giving the rest of the defense time to adjust  Kirksey used a strong punch to keep the skill players away from him on running plays headed his way.  The linebacker had a more difficult time disengaging from the bigger offensive linemen and had to use more speed/quickness to get away from them.

The linebacker flows to the ball quickly using good side to side agility along with speed and great balance.  He has a good natural feel for where the ball is going, along with his solid field vision.  Kirksey is a hard hitter who is always tearing at the ball whether he is making a tackle on his own or in a group.  He does have a tendency to get over-aggressive and over-pursue where he thinks the offense is taking the pigskin.  When Kirksey is rushing the passer, he lines up on the outside shoulder of the tight end, then dips his shoulder to get around or uses a spin move to get free.  He has great initial burst across the line of scrimmage at the hike of the ball.  There were a few times he got unabated paths at the quarterback, that won’t happen much in the NFL.  Kirskey has a relentless motor and does a good job of applying pressure as a pass rusher.  The Browns linebacker corps is athletic enough to allow him to rush the passer on occasion, and I think he would be successful creating havoc up the middle.

Although he is an ultra-athletic linebacker, but I’m not convinced that he will adjust well to life on the inside against a strong running team.  He appears to have more of the functional strength of a strong safety, not an inside linebacker. Kirksey will need to out maneuver/out power pulling offensive linemen and hopefully get to play the Mack inside backer role that freely flows to the ball.  I trust their new defensive minded coach will get more out of their defense, so Kirksey should be a value in your rookie drafts.  Don’t plug him in your lineup in Week One, but roster him as a LB4 or LB5.

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