NFL Draft Preview: Kirksey

Hawkeye Insider Publisher Rob Howe is taking a look at Iowa prospects for this week's NFL Draft. Next up his talented outside linebacker Christian Kirksey.

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Christian Kirksey played outside the spotlight while at Iowa. It proved his worth.

A lot is asked of the LEO linebacker in the Hawkeyes defense. When it's done well, others on the unit are freed up to make plays, and fans and coaches are happy.

Iowa turned around its fortunes last season by slowing down opponents' offenses. Kirksey was as important as anybody else in it happening.

NFL teams noticed. He joined tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz as the only Hawkeyes invited to the Senior Bowl. He improved his draft stock there, according to scouts in attendance.

At 6-foot-2, 233 pounds, Kirksey is not the biggest of linebackers. That seems to be the main knock on the St. Louis area product. According to the

Small-framed, athletic, finesse, run-around Will linebacker who will have to stand out on special teams to earn a reserve spot.

A hamstring injury slowed him at the combine. He came back to reportedly run a sub-4.6-second, 40-yard dash and post a 36-inch vertical leap at Iowa's pro day.

Here's a look at Kirksey's draft profile at

There are a lot of mock drafts on the out there and opinions on where Kirksey will go vary quite a bit. One prediction puts in Round 4 while another has him lasting until the seventh.

Matt Miller, formerly of the National Football Post and now with Bleacher report, pegs Kirksey as the No. 95 overall prospect in the draft. Miller sees the Iowa product as the biggest sleeper at outside linebacker at the No. 10 player overall at that position.

What Others Are Saying:

CBS Sports

NFL Draft Scout

Comcast Chicago

Rob's Projection: Personally, I like Kirksey. Through the years, I've come to appreciate the LEO role in Iowa's defense and Kirksey has played it as well as anybody in the last 15 years. I also think he goes toward the higher end of the projections, somewhere in the fourth or fifth round. The Eagles like smaller than prototypical linebackers and reportedly brought Kirksey in for a visit within the last few weeks. Let's say CK goes to the land of the cheesesteak with the 22nd pick of Round 5, 162 overall.

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