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2018 Draft Reaction: Christian Kirk Goes to the Arizona Cardinals

With the 47th pick of the NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals took Texas A&M wide receiver Christian Kirk. Kirk should have no trouble immediately slotting in as the No. 2 WR in the desert.

We called Kirk to the Cardinals last week, and it looks like an ideal fit for both sides. More on that in a moment, but first let’s look at why the Cardinals coveted Kirk.

Christian Kirk, Texas A&M, 5-11, 201 pounds

Kirk exploded onto the national scene, dominating for a 37 percent market share as a true freshman. While the market share and raw numbers dipped in the subsequent two years, his breakout age is the sixth best in the class.

Year G Rec reYDS reYPR TD Team paYDS Market Share
*2015 13 80 1,009 12.6 7 2,767 37.7%
*2016 13 83 928 11.2 9 3,317 28%
2017 12 58 730 12.6 7 3,323 21.8%

That 21 percent market share in his final season took some of the shine off of Kirk’s stock, but I’d rather focus on breakout age, which is the skeleton key in WR evaluation. While a different type of player, Kirk’s pre-draft narrative reminds me a little bit of JuJu Smith-Schuster, who had a near-40 percent market share as a 19-year old before dropping back down to the low-20 percent MS in his age 20 season. That caused him to slide in the real draft and dynasty drafts, but the precocious breakout age and final age along with the second-round draft slot should have been the focus.

Kirk is not a perfect prospect, but that breakout age and the the dominant market share should be reason for excitement, especially considering he did it in the SEC.

At 21.1 years old, Kirk isn’t quite as young as we’d like, but he is the sixth-youngest WR in the draft, and he still hits the 21-year-old rookie threshold we want to see for the best chance at future fantasy success. wrdraftage_top24player

Kirk gave a strong showing in the rest of the RotoViz metrics with the ninth-highest Phenom Index score, and Amico’s model gives him the fourth-best projection among all WRs in this class.

Scouting gurus loved Kirk, as he ranked second in the Scouting Index. About the only area he didn’t get at least a passing grade was in the Freak Score, where he was 24th.

Player School Weight Age Breakout Age Phenom Index FS Market Share Freak Score Amico Projection Scouting Index
D.J. Moore Maryland 210 20.7 19.7 4.64 53.7 64 221.5 4
Calvin Ridley Alabama 189 23 21 0.41 35.7 49 187.5 1
Courtland Sutton SMU 218 22.2 20.2 0.63 28.4 63 156.9 3
Christian Kirk Texas A&M 200 21.1 20.1 1.83 28.1 48 154.4 2
D.J. Chark LSU 199 21.4 2.11 33 72 131.1 7
Anthony Miller Memphis 190 23.2 22.2 0.02 33.8 126.1 5
Michael Gallup Colorado State 205 21.8 20.8 1.89 37.3 53 123.1 8

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, so it’s significant that Kirk is perhaps one of the best punt returners in the draft.

The Landing Spot

The Cardinals used their first two picks addressing their two biggest needs. With their quarterback of the future in the fold, Arizona went out and secured Josh Rosen’s WR of the future.

With the offseason departure of multiple WRs named Brown, the Cardinals have an immense amount of opportunity available.

chart

Conclusion

Kirk is polished enough to start immediately while simultaneously learning from an all-time great in Larry Fitzgerald. He could return immediate value in dynasty leagues, and as a result I expect his rookie draft stock to start creeping up into late-first or early-second round territory.

Considering that Fitzgerald turns 35 this summer, Kirk should be a great long-term play as well.

He had a sluggish final season with some of the worst QBs in the SEC, but that’s a minor red flag. Don’t let it overshadow what matters — breakout age, draft position, and draft age.

The landing spot with a blue chip QB and a clear path to opportunity is just the icing.

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