There may not be a better cornerback in the NFL to strive to emulate than Richard Sherman.
The Seahawks' shutdown corner has been one of the best defensive backs in football since being a fifth-round draft pick out of Stanford in 2011. A big reason why he's reached and stayed at the top of the NFL hierarchy of corners is that he's always carried a chip on his shoulder, whether he was a rookie making a few hundred thousand dollars, or now, making $12 million this season.
Dre Kirkpatrick also likes playing with a fiery, "I can shut anyone down" attitude, similar to that of Sherman's. The Bengals cornerback is in his first season as a full-time starter, and he gives credit to Sherman for helping him get to get to this point in his pro career.
As Kirkpatrick told ESPN's Coley Harvey, Sherman taught him leverage and simply watching how Sherman plays the game has helped improve his technique and how to play corner in the NFL, "I just watched him. I studied him," Kirkpatrick said. He continued saying:
"I'm pretty sure every game he wants to be the best corner and I know every game I want to be the best. When you're going out there and you're about to play against the 'best' -- quote, unquote -- it's going to elevate your game."
Unfortunately for Kirkpatrick, he's had a rough start to his first season as a full-time starter at boundary corner. Pro Football Focus ranked him as their 103rd-best corner (out of 104) with a -9.8 overall grade. Against the Chiefs, he didn't do so well going up against receiver Jeremy Maclin, who finished with 11 catches for 148 yards. Though, Cincy Jungle's Alberto Luque did his own film review on Kirkpatrick and didn't grade his performance as badly as PFF.
Hopefully against the Seahawks, Kirkpatrick lives up to his claim of Sherman raising his game. It will go a long way if he proves that more than just wanting to be the best cornerback on the field, he actually can be by helping the Bengals score a signature win against the 2013 and 2014 NFC Champions.
Kirkpatrick also knows he's going to need the help of his partner in crime, Adam Jones, who is one of the top performers on the Bengals' defense through four games.
As Kirkpatrick told ESPN, "I was telling Adam: 'I know you're anxious, but rest up. Heal, don't try to do nothing extra. We're going to need you Sunday.'"