The 2012 NFL Draft class was a good one for the Cincinnati Bengals, as they got contributions from nearly every player elected that year. Ironically, the Bengals’ first pick and 17th-overall selection of that draft didn’t give them much of anything last year, as cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick was relegated to limited snaps on special teams and defense after a knee injury cost him much of his rookie season.
Many fans and even media have already written him off as far as being a significant contributor in a defensive backfield that features Leon Hall, Terence Newman, and Adam Jones. Don’t count out Kirkpatrick just yet, as he’s been cleared to fully practice today when training camp officially opens, and he’s using this talk of him being irrelevant as motivation to make an impact this year:
I’m probably the only guy in the country excited about training camp.
My mom called me because the guy on the news back home said, ‘The forgotten Dre Kirkpatrick.’ That just adds a little more fuel to my fire…You motivated me.
When Dre does finally get into the lineup consistently, he’ll be an injection of youth into the Bengals secondary that will be badly needed with Leon Hall, Terence Newman and Adam Jones all having 7+ years of wear & tear. Kirkpatrick has all of the skills to be one of the top corners in the league one day.
A setback in his rookie year should not cause a player to be labeled a bust, but unfortunately, many are already jumping the gun to call Kirkpatrick that. While it is too early to make that judgement, how he plays this year after a full training camp and whether he can stay healthy for a full season will go along way in determining what kind of career Dre will have in Cincinnati.