It means that long before Amari Cooper became a household name with respect to the league's 2015 draft class, Kirkpatrick had already been well acquainted with who the receiver was and how he played. So before uploading preseason game tape of the Oakland Raiders in recent days, Kirkpatrick kind of knew what to expect.
"He looks great. He doesn't look like a rookie, I'll tell you that," Kirkpatrick said. "He looks like he's been here before."
Kirkpatrick and other Bengals cornerbacks will have a chance to see just how well Cooper plays when they visit the Raiders on Sunday at O.co Coliseum (4:25 p.m. ET, CBS).
Before being drafted fourth overall this spring, Cooper was a key figure in one of the country's best scoring offenses in college. Just last season the vertical, playmaking threat caught exactly half of Alabama's 32 passing touchdowns. In total, he caught 124 passes for more than 1,700 yards in 2014 before closing out a banner three-season career.
Cooper hasn't yet crossed into the end zone in his pro career, and Kirkpatrick will be out to keep it that way this weekend. In limited action this preseason, Cooper caught eight passes for 124 yards and also had a 3-yard carry.
Look for Cooper to occasionally alternate sides of the field Sunday, meaning he won't be exclusively matched up with Kirkpatrick on the right side. Adam Jones will have his share of snaps covering him on the left side of the field, as well.
More than four years Cooper's senior, Kirkpatrick had just left Alabama when Cooper arrived. A first-round pick himself, Kirkpatrick was part of the Bengals' 2012 draft class; one that has played a key role in the last two of Cincinnati's playoff runs. That same year, Cooper had just joined coach Nick Saban's Crimson Tide.
Speaking of Saban, Kirkpatrick credited his coaching for enhancing Cooper's lofty NFL potential. It's up to him and Jones to quell that potential this week, though.
"It comes from him being a great player and going great in college and getting coached by a great coach in coach Saban," Kirkpatrick said. "Mentally I know he's ready, but he's still got to go out there and compete like I do."