Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick has taken his fair share of criticism, but he does some impressive things in coverage when put in the right situation. Kirkpatrick had a few negative plays early in the team’s Week 2 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens, but as the game went on, he put out some quality tape.
On this first play, where Jessie Bates caught his first career interception, the Bengals are in Cover 1 man (with Bates as the single-high safety) and Kirkpatrick is playing loose at 7 yards on the bottom of the screen. He lets Ravens wide receiver Willie Snead IV eat up his cushion too fast.
Kirkpatrick struggles with receivers like Snead who are good at creating separation, and off a free release that gives him plenty of space to build up speed in the vertical stem, Snead blazes by Kirkpatrick. He should be faster in his back pedal and transition faster to turn and run with the receiver.
Kirkpatrick is on the top of the screen on this next play. The wide receiver pushes him vertically and stems to the outside. Kirkpatrick turns to the outside as the receiver pushes that direction, but quickly turns back in and stays with him.
Kirkpatrick gets his eyes to the ball and is in position to make the play, but unfortunately drops the interception. Kirkpatrick is excellent with his feet on this play, but his hands let him down, like they usually do.
Dre looks great here, but man you gotta make that catch pic.twitter.com/TZWyXedVWl— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) September 17, 2018
Here, Snead is again lined up against Kirkpatrick on the top of the screen. He is able to stem and get inside of Kirkpatrick on the vertical route. To his credit, Kirkpatrick fights back and gets back into good position, but he needlessly grabs Snead’s jersey and draws the flag. This is a big mistake that gives the Ravens first-and-goal.
Kirkpatrick does an excellent job on this vertical route. He is playing wide receiver John Brown tight at the top of the screen. His hips are excellent on this play, and that allows him to transition quickly.
Once he turns to the receiver, he closes the horizontal space between himself and Brown. This pressures Brown to move closer to the sideline, which narrows the window for Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco to throw in.
Good job on the fade route by Dre pic.twitter.com/EZTOLFBkWq— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) September 17, 2018
Once again, Kirkpatrick is covering Brown in tight man coverage at the top of the screen. Brown runs a vertical route, but chops his feet after a few yards trying to make Kirkpatrick think that he is going to cut off his route.
Brown then quickly continues his route up the sideline, and Kirkpatrick is unphased. He chops his feet in his backpedal, then turns and runs with Brown stride for stride. This is excellent coverage by Kirkpatrick, but an incredible throw by Flacco and some sideline tow-tapping by Brown makes it a touchdown.
Good coverage by Dre, but a ridiculous throw by Flacco pic.twitter.com/ZEQG5J6OEG— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) September 17, 2018
Kirkpatrick is best when he is able to use his strength and length in addition to his speed. On the bottom of the screen, Kirkpatrick uses his hands to jam wide receiver Michael Crabtree at the line of scrimmage.
Crabtree releases to the outside and Kirkpatrick quickly gets on his hip. He leans on the route keeping Crabtree on the sideline. With this excellent coverage, Flacco lofts the ball out of bounds.
Kirkpatrick (bottom) is at his best when he can use his hands pic.twitter.com/jYLRk1dWSO— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) September 17, 2018
Kirkpatrick has had his ups and downs, but has the skillet to be a solid boundary cornerback. The Bengals could help him by flipping fellow cornerback William Jackson and him around based on matchups, with Jackson taking on the team’s best receiver, but that doesn’t seem like it’d going to happen based off the first two games.
Kirkpatrick plays best against receivers with some size who have more straight-line speed than lateral speed, and he also benefits from jamming and using his length. His strengths are well telegraphed at this point, as are his weaknesses. With a talented secondary around him, Kirkpatrick has a chance to turn in an above average year in a new scheme.