Cardinals rookie wide receiver Christian Kirk is next up as we take a look at the most comparable players for the 11 best rookie WRs from the 2018 class.
The Cardinals snagged Kirk in the second round – 47th overall – of the 2018 NFL Draft. At the time, we described it as an ideal landing spot, given the ample opportunity available in the desert.
Indeed, he was utilized out of the gate, racking up 90 yards on eight targets against the vaunted Bears defense in just his third career game. The bottom line wasn’t as good as it could have been, given that he missed his final four games with a broken foot, but on a per-game basis, Kirk impressed with 5.7 targets, 3.6 receptions, and 49 yards. Among rookies, he finished:
- Fourth in receptions and targets per game
- Fourth in yards per game
- Fifth in effeiciency (reFPOE)
- Second in target market share at 14 percent (D.J. Moore, Calvin Ridley, and Courtland Sutton were tied for first at 15 percent)
- Sixth in raw fantasy points
Prorated over a full season, Kirk would have finished with 787 receiving yards, which would have been third best in the class, one yard behind Moore.
Using inputs of target volume, production, efficiency, age, weight, and draft position, I used the RotoViz Screener to come up with the most similar rookie seasons to Kirk’s since 2000.
This list is solid, but it came very close to being phenomenal. Just missing the top-five cut were: Brandin Cooks, Stefon Diggs, and Braylon Edwards. Were we to play with a few of the inputs, it wouldn’t be hard to place Kirk into some heady company.
Still, Dez Bryant checked in as the second-closest comp, just behind Ashlie Lelie. Bryant also missed four games as a rookie, and the two were near doppelgangers, save for Bryant’s size and draft slot.
Kirk also put up a near-identical stat line to Donte Stallworth, who would go on to have a solid career.
Keary Colbert was in a different target tier, but he played three more games than Kirk, so this comp is actually pretty apt.
What Did They Do in Year 2?
Bryant was the only player to take a hyper-leap forward as a sophomore.
- It’s tempting to read into the Bryant comp, but the two are clearly different players, and Kirk is unlikely to become the truly elite WR that the Cowboys star was
- Colbert’s rookie year turned out to be his best; he’d never top 350 yards again
- Lelie followed up his 628-yard sophomore season with a 1,084-yard breakout in year three
- Josh Reed went on to an extremely middling career, averaging 447 yards over eight seasons
- Stallworth would become a useful fantasy asset, averaging 784 yards and five TDs in years three through six.
Kirk’s comps are solid, but they may sell him short. Not only does the Screener not account for the fact that he missed a quarter of the season, but he was also was working with a rookie QB and arguably one of the worst offensive coaching staffs in the league.
I’m bullish on Kirk. He ticked a ton of boxed coming out of college, including an elite market share and the fifth-best breakout age in the class.
If you have the opportunity to buy low, take it.
Check out the top comparables for the rest of the 2018 rookie WR class:
11. Michael Gallup
10. Robert Foster
8. Dante Pettis