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Cleveland Browns Draft Kirksey

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IOWA CITY — Iowa outside linebacker Christian Kirksey was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the third round of Friday’s NFL draft.

Kirksey, who stood 6 1 1/2 and weighed 233 pounds, was taken with the 71st pick. He’ll compete for playing time in Cleveland’s 3-4 defense.

“He can run and he can cover,” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said. “A hard worker, a good nose for the ball, I love his battle speed. He can create turnovers. He’s not a guy that’s going to spend a lot of time behind the line of scrimmage. He’s going to be a cover linebacker.”

Kirksey started the final 38 games of his career and finished 15th in Iowa history with 315 tackles, including 151 solo stops. He’s only the third player in school history to record three defensive touchdowns. He had four interceptions — two were touchdowns — and recovered a pair of fumbles that resulted in one touchdown. He added 5.5 sacks for minus-40 yards and had 13.5 tackles for loss.

“For the most part he’s a guy that played that overhang position and basically a (Arizona safety) Tyrann Mathieu, just bigger,” ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said. “I don’t think he has to be a three-down player early in his career, but I think he’ll develop into that.”

“He’s a good football player,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said. “I think he can play inside or outside, and he’ll play inside for the Cleveland Browns.”

Kirksey hails from St. Louis and was an honorable mention all-Big Ten selection this year. He competed in the Senior Bowl in January.

l Comments: (319) 339-3169; scott.dochterman@sourcemedia.net