Christian Davon Kirk will be 23 years old in the 2020 season. Born in Scottsdale, Arizona, he attended a local high school where he played both wide receiver and running back. As a senior, Kirk gained over 3,000 all-purpose yards, which led to him earning a five-star recruit status and recruited as one of the top wide receivers in the country. He committed to playing football at Texas A&M University.
He played three years at Texas A&M and did not appear to miss a game in college. In his freshman year, he brought in 80 passes for 1,009 yards and 7 touchdowns, followed up by 83 catches for 928 yards and 9 touchdowns. In his junior year, he caught only 71 passes for 919 yards and 10 touchdowns. He declared for the 2018 NFL Draft and measured 5’ 10 ?” and weighed 201 pounds, and ran a 4.47-second 40-yard dash at the Combine.
The Arizona Cardinals chose Kirk in the second round, and he was the fifth wide receiver off the board. He went after DJ Moore, Calvin Ridley, Courtland Sutton, and Dante Pettis. Kirk only played in 12 games as a rookie, catching 43 passes on 68 targets for 590 yards and 3 touchdowns. His season ended prematurely after breaking his foot.
Kirk followed up in 2019 by catching 68 passes on 108 targets for 709 yards and 3 touchdowns. He only played in 13 games secondary to injury.
Let’s review his injuries since the start of 2018. It does not appear that he had any or many injuries in high school or college. After being involved in a car accident in September of 2018, he struggled briefly with a back injury but never missed any time on the field.
In December of the 2018 season, he missed the final four games of the season due to a broken foot. Kirk was the Cardinals' most consistent playmaker until he broke his foot.
It does not appear that he had surgery. Kirk stated that he was 100% recovered by the end of May 2019, and entering the 2020 season; Kirk was healthy. However, he suffered the dreaded high-ankle sprain in Week 4. These typically take anywhere from 3 to 8 weeks to return to the field.
Many athletes state that they don’t feel 100% until the following season (Alvin Kamara recently mentioned something similar about his). Kirk did not return to the field until week eight, missing four games.
The issue with these high-ankle sprains is that they are prone to reinjury if not allowed to heal correctly. Kirk posted a monster game after returning, catching 6 passes for 138 yards and 3 touchdowns in Week 10. However, about a month later he reportedly re-injured the ankle, but managed to play through the pain and did not miss another game the rest of the season.
Despite being only in the league for two years, Kirk has already missed at least three games in consecutive seasons. Not the best trend. The talent is there, as evidenced by his high recruiting profile since high school, but he needs to stay healthy to put it all together.
His first two seasons in the NFL were both severely impacted by lower leg injuries, his rookie season with a broken foot, and the second season with a high-ankle sprain. Ideally, he would spend a lot of the off-season working on strengthening the lower half, becoming more versatile, and flexible. Elite balance is an underrated trait, but a lot of these professional athletes should strive for it because they tend to be better off and suffer fewer injuries if they can adequately adjust by landing in all types of awkward positions.
Kyler Murray didn’t play any favorites between Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk last season. Fitzgerald caught 75 balls for 804 yards and 4 touchdowns while Kirk had a 68-709-3 stat line. Another year on Fitz, while Kirk grew, it appeared it was going to be Kirk’s turn to be the number one receiver on the team. Then the Cardinals made a trade of a lifetime. Arizona sent David Johnson for DeAndre Hopkins, pushing Kirk back to the number two or three role.
Overall, Kirk didn’t have a great season. His 10.4 YPC was 29th among those that had 100 or more targets, and a 6.6 yards per target put him 28th. Plus, his big plays were minimal as he only had 6 catches of 20+ yards.
The reason he didn’t score many touchdowns is that he only received 12 red-zone looks and 4 end-zone targets. Kirk will see time in the slot, but so will Fitzgerald and Hopkins, kicking Kirk outside. However, the Cardinals will be a high-volume passing team, and there should be plenty available for Kirk.
For 13 weeks last year, Kirk was the WR29 and was part of 24% of the target share in the Kliff Kingsbury system. Even though Murray will make room for Kirk, there is no denying that Hopkins is the big-guy on campus. Also, Arizona wants players such as Andy Isabella and Hakeem Butler to be involved.
The Cardinals offense was more middle of the road than spectacular. They finished with 361 points (16th) and 5467 yards (21st). The 20 touchdowns put them 25th overall while their 3,477 passing yards was 24th. All of these numbers will increase with both the maturity of Murray and the arrival of Hopkins.
Arizona has a weak offensive line that features a zone spread. Justin Pugh and JR Sweezy are the strength of the line at guard. At center, Mason Cole takes over for AQ Shipley. Marcus Gilbert returns after tearing his ACL and missing the entire 2019 season. He will compete with Justin Murray and third-round selection Josh Jones from Houston.
Kirk will serve as the number two wide receiver on a potentially sneaky and high-octane offense. Offensive Rookie of the Year Kyler Murray will be throwing him the ball, and super stud DeAndre Hopkins flanks him. Also, future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald, super talented Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds, as well as stand out wide receivers Andy Isabella and Hakeem Butler.
Sports Injury Predictor calculates that he has a 48.8% chance of injury in 2020, and projects him to miss less than one game.
My risk score for Kirk in 2020 is a 5 out of 10. I don’t think either injury is related to the other. However, both are mildly concerning. The foot injury should be 100% by now, and the high-ankle sprain was an unfortunate injury that affected his 2019 season. As long as he trained hard in the off-season to get back to 100%, he should be good to go for the 2020 season.
If this offense functions as it is supposed to, Kirk could potentially see another 100+ target season, and he could catch 70 to 80 passes, over 1,000 yards receiving and possibly 5 to 8 touchdowns. Those are substantial WR2 numbers, especially for someone who is going as the WR40 in PPR. I (Dr. Morse) will have some shares of Christian Kirk in 2020.
Kirk will need to up his game as there are not only players ahead of him on the depth chart but talent behind him as well. He has not established himself, but the ability to be the number two receiver is there if he can demonstrate his worth.
At this point, Kirk’s ADP is WR38 and an overall of 94. The ranking makes him a flex candidate or bye-week replacement. The offense and his talent could propel him to a WR3 by the end of the season.
Injury Risk: Moderate. 5/10.
|Projected Missed||Probability of injury per game ?||Probablity of injury in the season ?|
|Sep 29, 2019||Pedal Ankle Sprain/Pull Unspecified Grade 1||Kirk exited late in the game vs. the Seahawks due to an ankle injury. He missed 3 games|
|Dec 2, 2018||Pedal Foot Fracture||Kirk missed the final 4 games of his rookie season with a broken foot.|