Christian Kirksey   LB   Iowa

TALENT BOARD ROUND 1

STRENGTHS
Christian has the size, speed, bulk and strength to play multiple linebacker positions in various defensive schemes. He shows on film the cover skills needed to be an every down linebacker and the football instincts and intelligence to be a leader on the field. He is a good tackler and has long arms that allow him to shock the blocker, control him and then shed to make the tackle. His long arms also allow him to have an solid defensive cover radius when covering those pass catching tight ends also. Christian has a terrific burst to the ball and is a very good blitzing linebacker because of this quickness and burst. He shows on film the quick decision making ability, bulk and form tackling to be used inside or outside. He reminds me a lot of Sean Lee (see 2010 Archives) Dallas Cowboyís linebacker and that means for the teams that play cover two defense, Christian would be an excellent fit as a middle linebacker.

CONCERNS
Unless youíre on the line of scrimmage and show pass rushing skills, most teams do not draft linebackers early in a draft. They donít rate the position very high and thatís why year after year teams pass on drafting linebackers in the first round unless they have outstanding stats and the media attention. Christian has not shown on film that he can rush the passer from a three point stance or two point stance, so I suspect teams will downgrade him because of that. He is shorter than ideal and that will make some teams think twice about him also.

BOTTOM LINE
When Sean Lee came out in 2010, I rated him as a top ten pick. He didnít get drafted until the 2nd round and I suspect the same thing will happen to Christian. Thatís why we use a two board system at THR. At THR, we know that teams have a higher priority on some positions over others and stack their boards to reflect that. I donít have to do that. Iím free to rate players on talent and impact without the worry about priorities of position. Thatís why you will see players rated higher on my talent board than most others will have them rated because others (like Rob) are evaluating the value of a player to 32 teams which results in players going up and down the boards on any given day. My talent grades never change; but where a player is valued in a draft class does. Christian has 1st round talent. He will be drafted and play on the field in the first game of the season for the team that selects him. He will not come off the field in any situation and will be one of the core players and impact player of his teamís defense. Those are the facts and they cannot be refuted. Nevertheless, and in spite of those facts, Iíll be very surprised if Christian is selected in the first round. History of the draft tells me this.

Drew Boylhart
FEB/2014