Defensive Back Visits Colts

Friday, the Indianapolis Colts brought in a defensive back for a tryout. Find out who he is and why the Colts are looking at him in this scouting report.

Friday, the Colts brought in linebackers Karibi Dede and Wade Koehl in for tryouts. The Colts also took a look at a defensive back, Andre Kirkland.

Kirkland played collegiately at Kent State, where he led the Golden Flashes in tackles (104) in 2006. He intercepted four passes and forced four fumbles, recorded six double-digit tackle games and was an All Mid-American Conference second-team selection.

After transferring from Bowie State in 2004, Kirkland played outside linebacker for Kent State as a junior before switching to strong safety as a senior.

Andre Kirkland squares up on Minnesota RB Alex Daniels in 2006
AP Photo/Jeff Glidden

Kirkland wasn't invited to the NFL Combine, but scouts were able to get a look at the strong safety at Kent State's pro day on March 9. His 4.54 time in the 40-yard dash was middle-of-the-road for a defensive back, while his 14 bench-presses of 225 pounds showed room for improvement.

After going undrafted, Kirkland was signed as an free agent by St. Louis on May 1 and spent the summer in St. Louis came, but hyper-extended his knee on Aug. 30 and was cut by the Rams the next day.

At 6 feet, 205 pounds, Kirkland does have nice speed and size combination for a pro safety and was a proven tackler in college, although, as a former linebacker, he may not have the coverage skills to defend at the pro level. With the combination of size, speed, and tackling ability, he does have the potential to be a special-teams player, however.

The more serious question is why the Colts are looking at defensive backs in the first place. With young stars at all four positions in the defensive backfield and proven backups in Matt Giordano and Tim Jennings at safety and corner, respectively, there's quite a depth chart for DBs in the Colts organization.

However, three of the Colts starters — Marlin Jackson, Bob Sanders and Antoine Bethea — at defensive back have missed at least one game this season, and Jennings has been injured as well. Bethea, the team's starting free safety, missed Sunday's game at Oakland, and Sanders has a history of injuries, so it would behoove the Colts to try to develop a little more depth in the defensive backfield, even down to the practice squad level.

Also, adding a little more depth would allow rookie T.J. Rushing to concentrate on his role as a return specialist instead of an emergency defensive back. Rushing showed what he's capable of in Sunday's game when allowed to be a return man solely, returning a punt 90 yards for a touchdown against the Raiders.

With the depth and youth the Colts have at DB right now, it's probably unlikely that the team will take a chance on Kirkland. But the Colts have shown a talent for finding diamonds in the rough, so it can't hurt to take a look at Kirkland.

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