Career Recap: Under Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin, the Aggies have been excellent at landing some of the top recruits in the state of Texas and the nation. One of those star recruits was Christian Kirk. Kirk made an immediate impact as a freshman in the SEC, despite the Aggies having some older receivers who were stars in their own classes and already showed the ability to be effective. Kirk was too good to keep on the bench even though Josh Reynolds, Ricky Seals-Jones and Speedy Noil were already contributing. In 2015, Kirk caught 80 passes for 1,009 yards with seven touchdowns. He averaged 24.4 yards per punt returns with two touchdowns. Immediately, the freshman was the team's best receiver.
Kirk continued to play well in 2016 despite inconsistent quarterback play that also stemmed from an offensive line that struggled to pass protect. Texas A&M spread the ball around as well, not giving Kirk the number of targets that he should have had. Still, the sophomore totaled 83 receptions for 928 yards with nine touchdowns. He also rturned three punts for touchdowns.
2017 Season Outlook: As one can expect, Kirk is going to see some good talent due to playing in the SEC and being in the super-talented SEC West. There will be quality corner talent for the junior to go against on a weekly basis. In early October, Kirk will face an excellent Alabama secondary led by safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, cornerback Anthony Averett and cornerback Tony Brown. Florida Gator cornerback Duke Dawson could be a nice challenge for Kirk a week later.
In November, Auburn cornerback Carlton Davis could be one of the tougher challenges Kirk will see in 2017, though perhaps the best cornerback that he will play all season is LSU junior Kevin Toliver II. Like Kirk, Toliver was a freshman sensation who has first-round talent. Toliver's teammate Ed Paris is another NFL prospect who Kirk will match up against.
Skill-Set Summary: The passing-driven nature of the NFL makes a weapon like Kirk in demand for pro offenses. Some scouting sources told me that during his freshman season Kirk immediately jumped out to them as being a special player and their nickname for Kirk was "Baby Beckham" in reference to Odell Beckham Jr.
What team sources love about Kirk is his raw speed and explosiveness. He is very fast and a threat to take any touch into the end zone. Kirk is dynamic as a deep receiver to stretch the field vertically while providing a serious home-run weapon to his offense. His raw speed makes him a huge challenge for cornerbacks to run with him. The lightning-fast Kirk can just bolt past a cornerback and safety deep down the field even when the defense knows he is going to push them vertically. Even on short receptions, Kirk is dangerous as he is the kind of receiver who can take a quick slant all the way down the field to the end zone.
To go along with speed, Kirk is shifty and elusive. That makes him a very dangerous threat with the ball in his hands. Sources say they love Kirk's yards-after-the-catch ability. They also love his competitiveness. Kirk is a real competitor who wants to win above all else. While Kirk isn't a tall receiver, he is put together well and has developed some strength. Additionally, has quality hands and route-running.
Kirk is a dynamic returner on special teams, but he probably will only be a special occasion returner in the NFL as he will be too valuable to risk as the full-time returner. Kirk should also be versatile to line up as a X (split end) or Z (slot) receiver in the NFL.
In the NFL, Kirk could have No. 1 wideout potential despite not being a big player. He could be similar to Beckham, Steve Smith and Brandin Cooks as smaller receivers who are lead receivers just from their great speed and explosive play-making.
2018 NFL Draft Expectations: Kirk has top-20 potential for the 2018 NFL Draft. If he stays healthy and is able to show his play-making skillsm he could be a high first-rounder.