2018 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Christian Kirk
By Charlie Campbell
Summary: Under former Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin, the Aggies were excellent at landing some of the top recruits in the state of Texas and the nation. One of those star recruits was Christian Kirk. He made an immediate impact as a freshman in the SEC despite the Aggies having some older receivers who were stars in their own classes and already showed the ability to be effective. Kirk was too good to keep on the bench even though Josh Reynolds, Ricky Seals-Jones and Speedy Noil were already contributing. In 2015, Kirk caught 80 passes for 1,009 yards with seven touchdowns. He averaged averaged 24.4 yards per punt returns with two touchdowns. Immediately, Kirk was Texas A&M's best receiver.
Kirk also played in 2016 well despite inconsistent quarterback play and an offensive line that struggled to pass protect. Texas A&M spread the ball around as well and didn't give Kirk the number of targets that he should have seen. Still, Kirk totaled 83 receptions for 928 yards with nine touchdowns for the year. He also had three punt returns for touchdowns.
In 2017, Kirk totaled 71 catches for 919 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2017. He also produced some big kick and punt returns. He averaged 21 yards per kick return and 19 yards per punt return, and took one of each type of return for a touchdown. My good friend Thor Nystrom of Rotoworld made a great point about Kirk saying that if he played for Oklahoma or Texas Tech, he would have had tremendous production and could have been a 2,000-yard receiver in either's pass-happy spread offenses, which face Big XII defenses. At Texas A&M, Kirk was underutilized as a receiver.
For the NFL, Kirk fits as a slot receiver and returner. He is a fast weapon who can challenge defenses vertically and take the top off a defense. Kirk is a quick receiver who creates separation and is a threat to rip off yards in chunks. When cornerbacks and safeties play on their heels, Kirk is a threat to burn them and get open deep down the field. Cornerbacks who have good speed who sit on Kirk's routes can give him problems. That was evident last year when Florida's Duke Dawson was aggressive in challenging Kirk and giving him problems. Still, Kirk is a quick receiver who can get open and rip off yards in chunks.
To go along with speed, Kirk is shifty and elusive. That makes him a very dangerous threat with the ball in his hands. Sources say they love Kirk's yards-after-the-catch ability. They also love his competitiveness. Kirk is a real competitor who wants to win above all else. While Kirk isn't a tall receiver, he is put together well and has developed some strength. He has quality hands, but does body catch the ball a bit too much. His route-running is impressive, and he looks like he can contribute quickly in his NFL career.
On top of his being a threat as a slot receiver, Kirk is a dynamic punt and kick returner. He has excellent vision, cutting ability, and enough breakaway speed to be a dangerous special teams weapon. Early in Kirk's career, he should compete to be the starting slot receiver and the featured returner on special teams.
In the 2018 NFL Draft, Kirk looks likely to be a second-day pick. He probably will go in the second round and won't slip out of the third round.
Player Comparison: Sterling Shepard. Team sources have compared Kirk to Shepard, which makes a lot of sense. Shepard (5-10, 194) and Kirk have similar builds as slot receivers with speed to challenge defenses downfield. Shepard and Kirk both have big-play potential due to their speed and elusiveness. Shepard was a second-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, and Kirk looks likely to be a second-rounder in the 2018 NFL Draft.
NFL Matches: Cleveland, San Francisco, New Orleans, Denver, Washington, Arizona, Buffalo, Baltimore and Jacksonville
There are a lot of teams that could be in the market for a wide receiver upgrade on the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft. The Browns need more receiving talent for their offense even if Jarvis Landry is signed to a long-term deal. They can't count on Josh Gordon to stay on the field, and Corey Coleman hasn't panned out for them yet. With their second-round picks and third-rounder, the Browns could consider a receiver like Kirk on Day 2.
The Saints and 49ers could use more pass-catching weapons for their offenses. New Orleans could use more weapons for Drew Brees, but the Saints would have to trade up from their third-round pick due to being without their second-round choice. Kirk would be a nice fit for Kyle Shanahan across from Marquise Goodwin. Kirk could be in play for both teams in the third round.
The Broncos, Redskins and Cardinals all could be in the market for a wide receiver upgrade. Denver could look for some young receiving talent. The Redskins signed Paul Richardson, but they could consider adding more young talent at the position. Arizona has to consider life after Larry Fitzgerald and could use more receiving talent around the future Hall of Famer.
The Bills and Ravens also are in the market for receiver help. Buffalo has a plethora of second-day picks in the 2018 NFL Draft and could have a diverse trio of wide outs with Kirk, Kelvin Benjamin and Zay Jones. Baltimore badly needs more receiving talent for its offense. Kirk could make sense for the Ravens in the second round.
In Florida, the Jaguars could target a receiver like Kirk considering Allen Robinson wasn't re-signed.
2018 NFL Mock Draft: Charlie's | Walt's
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2018 NFL Draft Scouting Reports
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