Dre Kirkpatrick still struggling to adjust to his role

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Two years after being the 17-overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Dre Kirkpatrick is still struggling to find a role with the Cincinnati Bengals. Kirkpatrick has played just 406 defensive snaps, 363 of which came last year. Also, 232 of those came in the final four games (including playoffs) when Terence Newman went down after Leon Hal was already out with a torn Achilles.

Dre's first year was a wash after a knee injury in the summer cost him most of his rookie campaign. His second season brought more expectations, but for the most part, he failed to live up to them.

ESPN's Coley Harvey was at minicamp this past week, and he said that Kirkpatrick was one player who was noticeably struggling to cover his man.

Brandon Tate also had a strong showing during the practice, catching most everything thrown his way. Often he was matched against cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, who struggled to break up passes both deep and short against him. Kirkpatrick also seemed to struggle with figuring out exactly where Tate was going when he made a move. Perhaps it's simply springtime adjustments, but Kirkpatrick certainly will be one to keep an eye on as Cincinnati continues tweaking its deep cornerback group.

To be fair to Kirkpatrick, he's probably not suited for the slot. His most notable weaknesses coming out of college were speed (4.51 40-time) and footwork. Those are two critical attributes when working in the slot against receiver who are often fleet of foot.

There's also more room to go left or right, whereas on the boundary, it's easier for corners to anticipate where receivers are going.

Still, Brandon Tate?

While Andy Dalton is being lauded and praised for working hard this offseason to improve his mechanics, it doesn't sound like Kirkpatrick has done the same. It is just OTAs, so it's not time to panic just yet.

Dre had his moments in 2013 that suggest he can still live up to the status of being the 17th-overall pick in '12.

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