Really, there's only one football game that matters this weekend. Apologies to the St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals, but all eyes will be firmly fixed on the
national championship, er, SEC championship, no, regular season rumble between the best two teams in college football happening in Tuscaloosa tomorrow night. For the more NFL-inclined, LSU vs. Alabama will feature enough NFL talent to fill an entire roster, one that could probably beat the Rams on Sunday. Many of those prospects will likely be on the radar for the Rams come draft time next April, and one recent 2012 NFL mock draft has the Rams picking a key player in this weekend's matchup to end all matchups.
In the event that your headline reading ability has been debilitated after watching the first six games of the Rams' season, that player is none other than Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick.
Draft Tek has the Rams picking Kirkpatrick with the fourth overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft. Kirkpatrick is probably the top corner in the draft this year, but Moris Claiborne from LSU appears to be a close second.
Kirkpatrick, a junior, is 6'3" 192 lbs, he has the size to be an elite press corner in the NFL, exactly the kind that the Rams defense so desperately needs. He isn't a 4.3 forty guy, but he's fast enough and posses the quickness and agility of an elite corner. A first-team midseason All American, Kirkpatrick gets compared to Nnamdi Asmougha and Terrell Thomas...though you can expect some time to adjust to life in the NFL. For instance, he struggled against South Carolina WR Alshon Jeffery, and will take some time before he can successfully spar with the likes of Larry Fitzgerald, etc.
From the Draft Tex analysis:
Dre is a huge corner at 6'3" with good speed (4.49), the ability to make a tackle (53 in 2010) and in the best conference in college football is a true shutdown corner with teams simply not throwing his direction this season. Dre also stands out on special teams showing that even with a huge ego, he's willing to do everything it takes to help his team win. His role model is Deion Sanders, and his persona mirrors Neon's to a certain extent but his game is much tougher. Deion was flashy, a shutdown corner and return man who made few tackles. Dre is an all around nightmare that isn't afraid to intimidate with a hit but always intimidates in coverage as well. I haven't seen a better corner coming out of college in years.
Lots of time to debate the pick, but Kirkpatrick is definitely a guy who will be in the conversation. Keep an eye on him tomorrow night.