A probable first-round pick if had he had been eligible for the 2017 draft, Christian Kirk is back to try to win his first bowl game after falling short on the first two tries with Texas A&M. He’s hoping the third time’s the charm as the Aggies take on Wake Forest in the Belk Bowl on December 29th.
Kirk exploded onto the scene as a freshman, posting a 1,000-yard season and accounting for an astonishing 37.7 percent of his team’s passing yards, as well as 28 percent of their passing TDs.
|Year||G||Rec||reYDS||reYPR||TD||Team paYDS||Market Share|
He followed up that exciting debut with a slight dip in 2016, scoring a few more TDs, while giving back some yards. At that point, he likely would have been a certain first-round pick, but wasn’t eligible as a true freshman. He probably didn’t help his draft stock by coming back for a third year and posting career-worst numbers across the board. The dip in raw numbers – particularly in receptions – could partially be explained by poor quarterback play in 2017, but the sharp decrease in market share is concerning for a guy who should have been dominating at his age.
While that is a concern, his freshman campaign was so dominating that his NFL prospects shouldn’t be dismissed. Age matters, and breakout age is the key to projecting WRs. If his Wikipedia page is to be believed, Kirk just turned 21-years old on November 18th, which would mean he was a prodigious 18-years old when he crushed it for a 38 percent market share. And it’s not like he did that in some backwoods conference; he did it in the SEC.
While a 21.8 percent recieving market share in his final season leaves something to be desired, he did account for 38.9 percent of the Aggies’ passing TDs, which will ultimately help his Dominator Rating.
|2017-09-09||Texas A&M||Nicholls State||W||6||47||7.8||1|
|2017-09-30||Texas A&M||South Carolina||W||4||13||3.3||0|
|2017-10-28||Texas A&M||Mississippi State||L||5||33||6.6||0|
|2017-11-11||Texas A&M||New Mexico||W||4||120||30||1|
|2017-11-25||Texas A&M||@||Louisiana State||L||7||78||11.1||1|
Projection and Athleticism
At 5-11, 200 pounds, Kirk has played out of the slot for most of his career. Those types of WRs typically aren’t highly drafted, but ESPN scout Todd McShay has him in the same spot that he did last year—in the first round. Walter Football describes him as a “fast, explosive playmaker” and places him fifth in the class among WRs. CBS ranks him as the 16th WR in the class. That kind of variance in perceived value is sure to make Kirk one of the most debated prospects heading into the draft, and it this point, he could conceivably go anywhere in the first to third round.
Kirk was also a special teams maven, scoring a school-record seven return TDs. There is evidence to suggest that ability on special teams translates to a better chance at NFL success, and that is something that Kirk brings in spades.
Everything points to an quick, shifty playmaker who could thrive in a system which is willing to put him in space. He’s the kind of guy a team like the Ravens could use, a dynamic, slot prosense who can turn an inch into a mile. He’s a WR who will rely on his speed – estimated to be in the low 4.4 range – to do his damage, rather than using strength to break tackles.
Kirk will take his lumps leading up to the draft for his disappointing junior season, but that dominating, age-18 breakout is remarkable and, if the age is accurate, puts him in some fine company with fellow 18-year-old breakouts Hakeem Nicks, Keenan Allen, and Kenny Britt.1
If he can pair that with first-round status in the NFL draft, he’ll be a hot item in rookie drafts this spring.
- 19-year-old breakouts include Alshon Jeffrey and Julio Jones. (back)