Now that the 2018 NFL Draft is complete, dynasty fantasy football decisions are on the line. As a former high school football coach and educator by trade, one of my passions include providing film-based reviews on rookie prospects and focusing on their strengths and weakness which may assist other fantasy football enthusiasts in their evaluations.
After reviewing five of his games, here’s my scouting report on former Texas A&M and current Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk:
[Note: Most of these game videos are available via YouTube and Draft Breakdown]
WR Christian Kirk, Arizona
5’10” | 200 lbs.
College: Texas Tech
Wake Forest, Arkansas, UCLA, Alabama (2016)
His quickness did not translate into timed speed as he ran only a respectable 4.47 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. For a receiver to be considered a “blazer,” Kirk would need to be almost a tenth of a second faster. This lack of speed is evident with his issue of creating separation between himself and his coverage. Kirk lined up mostly in the slot which influenced how the wide receiver would be accounted for and by whom. Unlike the NFL, a college slot corner is likely either a less talented cornerback, an outside linebacker, or a safety playing in space.
Kirk rarely played as an outside receiver so his ability to get away from press coverage might be limited. Then there is the Larry Fitzgerald predicament. The longtime future Hall of Famer wideout is the Cardinals slot receiver, and I doubt Kirk will bump Larry Legend out of that spot. Another issue with Kirk playing outside is that he tends to get knocked around by defenders which gets the young wide receiver off his routes and messes up the timing of the throws. From the slot, Kirk can use his foot quickness to maneuver around defensive backs. My final concern about him is his limited catch radius. He catches the pigskin from his navel to about a foot over his head; he won’t sky above defenders or snare those worm burners. Thankfully his quarterback in waiting, Josh Rosen, is an accurate quarterback.
During the NFL Combine, it was clear that the young wide receiver has a powerful, muscular body that he uses well to come down with contested throws. Kirk runs clean routes and is quite the downfield threat. The young Cardinals receiver tracks the ball well in the air, adjusts his body to it, and usually grabs the pigskin in stride. He is a good red zone threat who does a good job of shielding the ball from defensive backs.
Also, Kirk has the quickness of a running back showing good lateral agility with his bouncy feet. He reads downfield blockers well with his excellent vision and is quite dangerous in open spaces, making defenders miss. The Arizona wideout is also very impactful as a special teamer. Kirk had over 1,800 combined return yards for Texas A&M and seven return touchdowns (six punt and one kickoff) on top of his 22 career receiving scores. Plus, besides Fitzgerald, there is plenty of playing time available within the Arizona wide receiving corps of Brice Butler, Chad Williams, and J.J. Nelson. Depending on who’s depth chart you use, Kirk is considered anywhere from the WR2 to the WR4.
The Cardinals were impressed enough with Kirk to select him in the second round of the Draft, one round after Rosen. There are limits to his game as a result of being primarily used as a slot receiver who has issues separating and facing physical coverage. His quickness and ability to wiggle around in open spaces make him an ideal returner with upside. Kirk is probably more likely to excel in the slot, but with Fitzgerald in that role for at least one more year, it might take a little time for the rookie to make a more significant fantasy impact.
In the five rookie drafts I have been involved with this offseason, I have seen Kirk go as early as the end of the first round and as late as the end of the second. A late first to early second ADP for Kirk is good value, especially if you can place him on a taxi squad. The value becomes even greater if your league awards points for return yards.
Thanks for reading. I will continue to generate and discuss 2018 rookie scouting reports with you leading up to the start of the NFL season so be sure to keep an eye on DTC for new content. You can also follow me on Twitter @AndrewMiley.