The Cleveland Browns selected former Iowa linebacker Christian Kirksey with the 71st pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
BEREA, Ohio -- Desire is one of those intangibles that cannot be measured by a football drill at the NFL Scouting Combine, or in a private workout with a pro team.
Beyond getting an aggressive defender, when the Cleveland Browns selected former University of Iowa linebacker Christian Kirksey with the 71st overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, they got a player who was passionate to play in Cleveland.
"I'm happy to be a Brown," Kirksey said in a conference call with the Cleveland media. "I had a real good talk with one of the scouts, and they talked (well) about me, so I had a good feeling about it."
Kirksey, a 6-foot-2, 235-pound native of St. Louis, Missouri, said it was a "mind-blowing" experience to be drafted and realize his dream of getting the opportunity to play professional football.
"I've been playing this game since I was seven years old, and just to see my name go across the screen and know that I'm going to be an NFL player, I'm just fired up," Kirksey said. "I'm ready to get down to Cleveland right now, be a part of that family, be a part of that atmosphere, and just keep playing as a Cleveland Brown. I'm just excited, and I'm kind of speechless. I have a lot of things going through my mind right now.
"We've got the best fans in the country. The Dawg Pound, Dawg Pound, Dawg Pound. They're in the AFC North, and I'm just ready to become a part of the Browns and give it my all, especially give an honor to Jim Brown, who played there. He's a legend, and just to play behind a legend makes me feel great. I'm ready to be a Brown and ready to get down there right now."
In four years with the Hawkeyes, Kirksey registered 315 total tackles -- the 15th best total in school history -- including 151 solo stops, 5.5 sacks for 40 lost yards, 13.5 tackles for 60 lost yards and eight quarterback pressures. He forced five fumbles, recovered seven others and broke up six passes.
With his 52-yard fumble return for a touchdown against Northern Illinois this past season, Kirksey became only the third Iowa player ever to score three defensive touchdowns in his career. During his junior season, Kirksey returned both of his interceptions for touchdowns.
"I'm just a complete linebacker that gives 100 percent effort," Kirksey said. "I trust in my skills and trust that I can get the job done. I think I'm very athletic and fast enough to play in a defense like the Browns. I think I bring a lot of versatility to that defense and my leadership skills, and I'm just ready to look up to the older guys, learn as much as possible from them and just be an asset to the team.
"I'm just a nice, physical linebacker, a guy that's not afraid to stick his nose in, a guy that has a high motor, runs to the ball, never stops until the play is done. That's the type of linebacker that I am, a linebacker that gives 100 percent effort, is willing to make plays and sacrifice my body for my team."
Kirksey expects to bring that tenacity to the middle linebacker spot, where he said coaches have told him he will play.
"Coaches feel like I'm a nice, aggressive player, and wherever I fit in is where I'd be willing to play," Kirksey said. "Wherever they need me to play is what I'll do, 100 percent. He just told me he feels like I could be a good fit for the defense, and just go out there and play linebacker.
"I started at will linebacker my sophomore year, and then, I made the transition to outside, so I'm comfortable with both of them. Playing linebacker is just playing linebacker. It's just running to the ball."