Cowboys Draft Prospects: Jake Kirkpatrick

Our next draft profile piece will take a look at a local boy made good, TCU center Jake Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick is an excellent athlete; he was a two-sport star at a small private high school (basketball and baseball) before transferring (much to his parents' dismay) to Lee High School before his senior year to play football as well. He quickly proved himself and was installed at left tackle, where he played well enough in one season to earn a scholarship offer from TCU, who signed him immediately after seeing him execute a behind-the-back dunk in a basketball game.

With the Horned Frogs, Kirkpatrick initially backed up Blake Schlueter, a Broncos seventh-round selection, before entering the starting lineup as a junior where he had a superb season; he was named second-team All-Mountain West, first-team All-American by Sports Illustrated and was a finalist for the Rimington Trophy, given to the nation's top center. Last season, he was even better; he again won first-team all-conference honors en route to helping TCU to a perfect season, capped off by a thrilling Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin. Video of his work in the Rose Bowl can be found here.

After the season, he was named the winner of the 2010 Rimington Trophy, beating out--among others--Florida's Mike Pouncey, the subject of an earlier profile post today. After being snubbed by the Combine invitation committee, Kirkpatrick notched some solid measurables at the Horned Frogs' pro day: he ran 5.32 and 5.33 in the 40, with a 30 1/2 vertical and 8-6 in the broad jump, and ran a 4.69 short shuttle and 7.69 three-cone, and concluded by doing 25 reps in the bench press.

Kirkpatrick is a sturdy, durable interior lineman who does an excellent job with line calls and sight adjustments. Because of this and his upside, given how new he is to the game, he has attracted interest from several teams. In addition to his "Dallas Day" visit, Kirkpatrick had conducted workouts with New England and Chicago and visited Indianapolis.

What about Kirkpatrick interested the Pats, Bears and Colts? See what scouts think of his game after the break...

National Football Post (Wes Bunting) 9th-rated OC; 247 overall

Possesses an average build for the center position, but negates some of his strength because of his high pad level off the snap. Allows himself to get too upright off the football and lacks the power to generate a pop on contact and move anyone off the snap as an in-line guy. However, he does do a good job quickly working his hands through the play, gaining inside position and using his lateral quickness to seal. Has the athleticism to stay on blocks through contact and works hard in order to create a crease and likes to finish his man. Did do a better job at the Senior Bowl playing with better bend and leverage and was a much more effective anchor. Has the ability to do it, just needs to show it's not consistently part of his game.

Showcases good awareness in the pass game. Works well in tandem with his guards and consistently keeps his head on a swivel, locates blitzing backers and quickly redirects in order to pick up his man. Again, doesn't generate much of a pop with his punch and can be overwhelmed on contact by strong interior linemen. However, he showcases good lateral agility through contact and in space and has enough athleticism to stick to mirror. Isn't real heavy handed and will allow defenders to fight their way through contact. But works his hands and feel in rhythm, maintaining his balance and can be tough to beat laterally.

Impression: Lacks ideal leverage and power in all areas of his game, but is an above-average athlete with quick hands and good body control when asked to mirror in space. Needs to continue to get stronger, but has the athleticism to fight his way onto a roster as a later round/free agent type kid.

Pro Football Weekly (Nolan Nawrocki) 5th-rated OC; overall unavailable (not in top 150)

Positives: Tough and competitive. Swings his hips in the hole and seals running lanes. Has shown he can handle size (see Baylor) and anchor against massive big bodies. Stays on blocks and seeks to finish. Smart, self-made, gritty, high-effort battler.

Negatives: Has a bad body with very short arms and can be outleveraged and outmaneuvered b quick three-techniques. Lacks power in his punch. Not powerful or explosive and does not generate much push in the run game. Inefficient in space trying to connect with linebackers.

Summary: Late bloomer who finished the season strong and did a solid job at the Senior Bowl. Has the smarts and competitiveness to compete for a job in the pros.

Because neither Gary Horton of ESPN nor Russ Lande of The Sporting News offer an evaluation of Kirkpatrick, there's not a lot here to go on in terms of the scouting services we have used for the series thus far. Neither guy rates Kirkpatrick highly: Lande says he's the 9th best center in the draft; Horton claims he's the 30th-ranked offensive guard. In shirt, neither seems to think the TCU product is a draftable player.

That said, the Cowboys' interest in him, his evident upside, and the positives that emerge from the evaluations we do have are enough for me to place him in the seventh round, with one of the Cowboys's two seventh-rounders. Let's say it'll be at # 251.

Next up: USC OT Tyron Smith

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