2018 NFL Draft: Texas A&M Aggies WR Christian Kirk Scouting Report
Christian Kirk aka “Baby Beckham” was a versatile weapon and a dynamic playmaker for Texas A&M. Will he end up in Round 1 of the 2018 NFL Draft?
Whether he was returning kicks and punts for touchdowns or making plays in the slot, on the outside, and at halfback; Christian Kirk was a weapon on the field ever since he was a freshman in 2015. His best season was when he was a freshman and exceeded 1,000 yards and had 80 catches (7 receiving touchdowns) as well as 2 punt return touchdowns that year. Since then; Kirk was named First Team All-SEC (2016-2017) and has followed up his record-setting freshman year with back to back years with over 900 yards and a total of 154 catches with 22 total touchdowns in 2016-2017 (19 receiving and 3 punt return touchdowns).
The 5’10” 201 lb. wide receiver was heavily featured around in the Texas A&M offense/ special teams and his usage translate well into the NFL.
Christian Kirk was reliable in the receiving game for Texas A&M a season ago pic.twitter.com/8Cl330RGFF
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) March 23, 2018
Christian Kirk did not have a gaudy stat line compared to other receivers. His playmaking ability explains why he is highly touted heading into the 2018 NFL Draft. With his combination of athleticism, route running ability, and quick twitch; Kirk could be one of the top receivers drafted.
A&M used Christian Kirk frequently in the slot on screens and pivot routes like this one against Tennessee in 2016. He has the sudden quickness to change direction and turn upfield to the end zone for a touchdown using his acceleration. Kirk is one of the better route runners in this class. Additionally, he has the ability to learn the route tree relatively well coming into the NFL for a receiver-needy NFL team.
In this game against Alabama in 2016, Kirk is in the slot. He stutter-steps before accelerating and creating enough separation on the fade route.
He has good enough hands to make tough catches and does not have many drops during his 3-year career at Texas A&M. However, this leads to one of the weaknesses I will highlight later. He makes great adjustments to the ball despite his inconsistencies with his hands at times. Nonetheless, Kirk is a playmaker at any position. It can be at receiver or halfback, occasionally, and as a return man. This will help almost any NFL team in special teams as a rookie.
Christian Kirk could be a versatile chess piece for an NFL team. Thus, he could make a big impact right away as a rookie.
Kirk gives very good effort when he is running after the catch and fights for yards pretty often. He is a willing enough run blocker and has been healthy throughout his career at Texas A&M as he played 39 games as a junior and has not missed a start since he was a freshman. He did suffer an injury at the Belk Bowl against Wake Forest last year. Nevertheless, he came back and played through it. Kirk has a good enough frame to play on the outside. He could also be full-time as a primary slot receiver. Either way, he is dangerous anywhere.
With all the polish Kirk has as a route runner and a playmaker, he does have some flaws. These will need improvement if he wants success in the NFL. The play highlighted from 2016 against Alabama above was a touchdown catch. However, it shows Kirk’s moments of inconsistency with his hands. When he body catches the ball, it seems like he is fighting the ball. In fact, he has to double clutch the ball sometimes as well. And even though he can make great catches, they are often not contested against tight coverages as that is something he will have to deal with in the NFL.
At times, Christian Kirk claps onto the ball while trying to cradle the ball near his body instead of making purely hand catches away from his frame.
This comes up quite a few times instead of attacking the football. It does increase the chance of a drop or fumble. Against UCLA in 2017, Kirk displays these issues. On an easy curl route even though he catches the ball fine, his technique can definitely use some cleaning up. And since he catches the ball usually near his body; his catch radius, ability to highpoint the football, and strength/size of his hands could be question marks heading into the NFL Scouting Combine.
Round Projection – Late Round 1 – Early Round 2
A team that needs a slot or a complementary receiver like the Buffalo Bills at 21/22 or the Carolina Panthers at 24 could be good fits for Christian Kirk. The Cleveland Browns with three 2nd round picks and Chicago Bears (depending on what they do Round 1) could be interested in Kirk at the top of the 2 Round. A good combine could elevate him to the middle of the 1st with a good 40-yard dash as a team could fall in love with his speed and take him earlier than warranted. But the upside is very high with Kirk if he can refine his technique as a pass catcher.