Kirksey fits mold perfectly of Mike Pettine’s defense.
By Eric Szczepinski, Twitter: CST_EricS
In the 3rd round Friday night the Cleveland Browns were back on the clock at pick 71. Again, after passing on a receiver in rounds 1 and 2 it seemed a receiver would come off the board. That wasn’t the case as Ray Farmer and staff selected Christian Kirksey, Linebacker from Iowa University.
Considered undersized at 6-foot-1, 233 pounds for linebacker, Christian Kirksey plays bigger than his small frame suggests. Kirksey won big-ten honorable mention last season and ran a quick 4.52 at the combine in February. Kirksey will fit the mold of weak inside linebacker in Pettine’s defense. At Iowa he spent time working inside and mostly outside backer. In 2011 he played ILB and converted to OLB for 12’ and 13’.
Kirksey is a coverage linebacker. With his speed he can cover lots of space and when needed he can be a pass rusher off the edge. Even though he isn’t the biggest of inside backers he showed the ability to absorb blockers and shed off them to make tackles. The Browns were due for a major upgrade at the weak inside linebacker spot. Craig Robertson was slow in coverage getting beat a ton last season. He also was swallowed up in the run game. Profootballfocus.com ranked Robertson one of the worst linebackers in production from all of the 2013 season. Christian Kirksey enters a position battle with Robertson one he is favorable to win. He is in a great learning spot with Karlos Dansby as a mentor and leader at the linebacker position. Pettine will be able to teach and develop Krksey into an impact starter for his defense.