KFFL.com draft analyst Cory J. Bonini recently conducted the following interview with Texas Christian University center and 2011 NFL Draft prospect Jake Kirkpatrick.
Have you reached out to any NFL players about the draft process? If so, what advice were you given?
I talked to Marshall Newhouse. He was a tackle for us. He let me know what his process was like, and, you know, it's kind of hard to get advice from some of the older guys on stuff like this because of the lockout and everything. I just talked to Marshall Newhouse and Jerry Hughes, guys like that, about the whole training camp process and what it's like to be in the NFL.
What NFL teams have you met with, and do you have any upcoming visits planned that you can talk about?
I've been working out ever since Pro Day (March 11) up at TCU with some other seniors. Three weeks ago I had a workout with New England. Two weeks ago I went up and visited Indianapolis, and then I came back and had a workout with the Bears here at TCU. They've been going pretty good ... hoping for more of them before the draft.
Talk about your decision in high school to go out for football. I understand you started out as a left tackle. Did you have a preference of what position you played?
I never had football at my school growing up, so I never got to play peewee or anything like that when I was little. It was always something I wanted to try. I played most other sports, basketball mainly, but I didn't want to go through life without giving it a shot, so I went to Robert E. Lee (high school) over in Tyler, Texas.
I really had no clue what position I was going to play. I was, I'd say, about 240 when I went there, so I really had no clue. I just showed up and asked if I could try out. The O-line coach kind of walked through and claimed me as his - put me at left tackle from the start, played one year at left tackle and showed up at TCU and they wanted me to learn how to snap and play center. It has been crazy how it all worked out.
What do you feel is the strongest attribute that you bring to the table, on or off the field?
I feel like I'm a good leader both on and off the field, whether it's trying to bring the young guys along or keeping the older guys in order. I pretty much just love football. Like I said, I didn't get a chance to play growing up so I'm still new to the game. I'm trying to catch up for all the time that I missed. I love everything about football - watching film, working out or hanging out in the training room with everybody. I feel like I bring that to the team, and mainly I think I'm a good leader.
Is there any player in the NFL that you model your game after?
There's a few, yeah. I watch a lot of film. I think my favorite player is Nick Mangold, of the Jets, or Jeff Saturday, from the Colts - guys like that ... that do everything pretty much the right way. I try to take little bits and pieces of their game and try to add it to mine. A lot of times watching them you find things that you need to work on or get better at, so it's fun. During the season, I always went back and watched their games. Those are the main two guys.
What is your favorite memory of your time at TCU (on or off the field)?
I would say that's pretty easy. Winning the Rose Bowl was pretty unforgettable, especially being on the field, getting to snap the last ball and kneeling down for victory with Andy (Dalton) and all the other guys I was there with. The sight of that whole stadium and all the history of that bowl game and getting the experience in with those guys and those fans is pretty unforgettable.
Have you given any thought to the idea that you and Andy could possibly end up on the same team?
I would love that! My wife and his fiancée are really good friends, and they always joke around like we're going to be on the same team, so we would love that. He's one of my best friends and that would be pretty cool if it worked out that way.
Since you haven't played football all that long in the grand scheme of things, what aspect of your game do you feel like you need to improve the most?
I'm always the hardest critic on myself watching film, so really I need to work on my flexibility, my hips, being more powerful at the point of attack. I always find things to work on, whether it's my hand placement or getting the reads out faster. I'd say probably just being more explosive off the ball is the biggest thing.
What did it mean to you to be recognized as the nation's best center in 2010?
It was a great honor. It's definitely something that I set out to achieve before the season, but like I told them when I found out I won, I feel like it's more of a group award, like it recognizes our entire O-line. Those guys make me look good a lot. It's definitely a great honor, and it was fun getting to hang out with Dave Rimington and all those guys.
Discuss not being invited to the Scouting Combine. Do you feel it will ultimately hurt your draft stock?
No, I don't look at it like that. I would have liked to go. Pretty much everyone I talked to said it was more important that I was at the Senior Bowl so they were able to see me do football drills, go against all the one-on-ones against the D-tackles, do the team drills and adjust to the NFL system. I would have liked to go to the Combine, but I know everything happens for a reason, and I think the Senior Bowl really helped me out.
How do you relieve stress and spend your free time?
My wife and I had our first baby Jan. 30. Her name is Lilly Kirkpatrick. Most of our time goes to her, and she keeps us pretty entertained. She's a pretty funny little girl.
Do you play fantasy football?
I'm familiar with it, but I've never really played it. I just haven't had too much time with school and football and everything.
Is it something you could see yourself getting into down the road?
Yeah, I'm sure I would. Me and my friends are always looking for different things to do, so I'm sure we'll get involved one way or another.
Cory is KFFL's General Manager. In late 2002, he joined the KFFL staff as a research analyst and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1996. A member of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, as well as Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Bonini has been featured in print, on radio and on scores of websites. Bonini co-hosted Big Lead Sports on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio from 2011 to 2012.
Bonini was recognized with the 2010 Best Article in Print Award from the FSWA and was a finalist for the same award in 2011. In '11, he finished first overall in the FSWA NFL experts challenge that featured 60 of the industry's best competitors.