Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
After losing linebacker Dane Fletcher to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald.com, the New England Patriots will likely bump the coverage and special teams linebacker position up a notch or two on their list of holes to fill this offseason.
Christian Kirksey—at 6'2" and 233 pounds—would be one of the smaller linebackers employed by the New England under Belichick. Kirksey has some traits, however, that more than make up for his size.
Kirksey is incredibly athletic and adept at moving in space. He runs well and has a knack for working his way through trash to get to the ball-carrier. Coverage is a strong suit for Kirksey, and he has found success working in zone and in man.
Two other factors that will help him win over Patriots coaches are his leadership and special teams ability.
Kirksey's speed and agility would help him earn a spot on the four core special teams squads, a big factor in earning a 53-man roster position. Fletcher has some big shoes to fill here, but Kirksey will be up to the task.
As a captain for the past two years, Kirksey has demonstrated the sort of leadership—under a former Bill Belichick assistant in Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz—that New England has craved since Rodney Harrison and Tedy Bruschi hung up their cleats.