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Favorite Prospects Edition Offensive Player: Christian Kirk / Defensive Player: Carlton Davis


Artwork by Robert Robinson, @badasskidsent

Written By Jason Feiner


Christian Kirk

WR Texas A&M University Height: 5’10 3/8” Weight (lbs): 201 Career Stats: 38 Games Receptions: 229 Receiving Yards: 2796 Yards Per Reception: 12.2 Receiving Touchdowns: 26 Fumbles: 8


Strengths

Christian Kirk, the leader of the Aggies underclassman-filled roster, is a versatile athlete who contributed in each phase of the game. He is a well-built player with outstanding agility and balance possessing excellent short area quickness and lateral burst. A&M’s superstar is a special athlete with great explosion and the speed to close a corner’s cushion and outrun defenders in open space. Kirk consistently displayed his start and stop talent throughout his collegiate career displaying this ability at the Combine in Indianapolis. During the receivers change of direction drill utilizing the comeback route, Kirk exploded off the line reaching full gear almost instantly and almost immediately planted his foot in the turf, displaying a thunderous stop that echoed throughout the stadium as he turned moving back towards the cone effortlessly. He is very fluid with great body control. Kirk is an excellent route runner with impressive quickness in and out of his breaks, as he is very elusive and sudden. Thriving in the middle of the field with the ability to be a dominant outside presence, Kirk led A&M’s offense with 71 catches for 919 yards and 10 touchdowns. Leading the Aggies to their third win of the season with a dominant performance over Arkansas, Kirk accounted for 5 receptions for 110 yards and two touchdowns through the air, while returning three punts for 136 yards and another score. His versatility sets him apart from other players in this draft class. He will be a plug and play three down starter with the capability to be a vital threat on special teams. Over the course of his career the electric play-maker averaged 22 yards per punt return on 37 attempts and scored on 7 return efforts (one on kickoff returns and six on punts). Throughout his collegiate career he has displayed the consistency to separate from the defender in the middle of the field displaying the talent to sink his hips and attack the ball. Athleticism isn’t the strength of the receiver, as his strong hands, concentration and mental toughness give him the ability to fight for the ball in traffic and to dip and scoop low or poorly thrown balls.

Kirk’s best attribute comes with his physicality. He is a decisive playmaker that fights for every inch of ground. He is not afraid to fight for the ball or high point it often jumping over defenders to make a play on the ball in the air. Kirk will put his shoulder down on every play if it means he has a chance to gain another yard and potentially move the chains. A well-built, mentally tough receiver capable of playing all over the field, Kirk is an extremely versatile weapon that competes on each snap never taking any plays off. Kirk will be a high-value impact player in each phase of the game. Possessing the speed to win on the outside and the quickness to win across the middle, Kirk has the potential and talent to contribute heavily on offense and special teams early in his career. He is by and far the toughest player in this draft.


Weaknesses

Kirk’s draft stock will almost certainly revolve around one crucial element, height. Measuring an unimpressive 5”10”, Kirk will have to prove that his height will not take away from his productivity on the outside. Kirk’s measurements are usually prototypical height requirements for a slot receiver, which he will most likely be at the next level. His athletic ability and talent will allow him to move all over an NFL offense, but his height will certainly avert a few teams from taking him — what some might consider too early for a “slot type” athlete. He has shown the ability to be a productive outside threat, but his smaller catch radius may scare a team away. He has the versatility to be moved all over the field, but he will be lethal when gaining tough yards on short and intermediate routes. To go along with his underwhelming size, Kirk doesn’t show the desired burst into his routes, as he does not possess elite acceleration. Kirk also heavily struggles with ball protection, fumbling a total of 8 times through his career.


NFL Team Fits

The team with the best chance to land the electric play-maker is the Miami Dolphins who currently sit with the 11th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Although the Dolphins have other needs, and may feel like a defensive tackle would best suit their first round pick, Kirk makes a lot of sense. With Devante Parker, Miami’s 2016 first round pick, failing to live up to his lofty expectations and the trade of star slot receiver Jarvis Landry, receiver may be at the top of the totem pole on the Dolphins priority list. Kirk would fill the hole left by Landry and have the ability to work opposite Parker in what could turn into and electric offensive system. Landry was a perennial 100 reception and 1000-yard receiver in Miami and Kirk has the talent to come in and replicate that production right away, while adding much needed help on special teams and in the red-zone.

The New England Patriots who sit with the 23rd pick in the draft also come to mind as a potential team fit. The Patriots offense revolves around quick release offense utilizing the short and intermediate routes where Julian Edelman and the rest of their receiving corps thrive. New England’s receiver group often features smaller, but explosive and versatile playmakers that can move around and play in all parts of the field. They just lost Danny Amendola to division rival the Miami Dolphins and traded away their most productive receiver of the 2017 season in Brandin Cooks. With Julian Edelman on the wrong side of thirty and coming off an ACL tear, Christian Kirk could give the Patriots another weapon for TB12. Kirk would also serve as a replacement in the punt game, as playoff-Dola will no longer be with the team, come September 9th. Kirk would be a fun player to watch in New England’s system. It is hard to imagine the Patriots taking Kirk with their 23rd pick, as an offensive tackle and speedy linebacker may be higher on their priority list. However, with New England, one can ever be too sure.

The Carolina Panthers would be another intriguing marriage partner for the Aggies star. Currently sitting one spot behind the Patriots, the 24th pick may be exactly where Kirk is taken. Pairing the play-making receiver with Cam Newton and 2017 first round pick, Christian McCaffrey, could turn into a deadly trio for opposing defensive coordinators. Carolina needs a true number 1 receiver after dealing Kelvin Benjamin to the Bills mid-season. Already possessing a big-bodied receiver in Devin Funchess, Kirk could provide the versatility, speed and quickness the Panthers haven’t seen since Steve smith was dawning Carolina’s colors. He would be a perfect complement to Christian McCaffrey and defensive coordinators would then have to pick their poison. Cam, McCaffrey, Olsen and Kirk could form a formidable test for any defense in the league.


Carlton Davis

CB, Auburn University Height: 6’1” Weight (lbs): 206 Career Stats: 36 Games Total Tackles: 136 Interceptions: 4 Passes Defensed: 28 Forced Fumbles: 3


Strengths

Carlton Davis is a big-bodied and athletic prospect who excels with a physical and nasty play style in press coverage. The Auburn product is longer than the average NFL corner with arms that can provide a disrupting force at the line of scrimmage. Utilizing his wingspan, he jams and blankets receivers effectively making their life tough before they enter their route. He is a physical presence that can dominate and bully receivers to the boundary disrupting their route and causing a disturbance in their timing. With quick feet and excellent body control, Davis possesses the ability to mirror receivers in routes that range the field. He ran well at the combine recording a 4.53 second 40 time, as there are some concerns about his ability to play step for step with deep threats. Davis is very aware when the receiver breaks, always searching for oncoming passes. Possessing excellent ball skills, Davis recorded double digit pass breakup throughout the past two years; he has the physicality and play strength to pry the ball out of his assignment’s arms.

Davis has been one of the most entertaining players to watch throughout his collegiate career. Playing with confidence and edge, Davis has consistently displayed the talent to be an aggressive, physical and daunting presence on the outside of a defense. Davis showed his elite level of play against one of the best teams in the country, Clemson. He was all over the field making plays throughout the game. He recorded 11 total tackles and 2 passes defensed on the day, but in the end, his effort did not gratify a win. In the right scheme, Davis has the potential to flourish as a high impact press corner who specializes in taking receivers out of their comfort zone and disrupting their game. Davis loves to initiate contact and will willingly help in run support. He loves coming downhill and blowing up runners. He can explode through tackles and utilizes and quick first step that allows him to drive toward the collision. Davis’ combination of height, weight, length, athleticism and ball production make him a nuisance for any receiver that lines up opposite him.


Weaknesses

Although Davis is an athletic defender, he struggles in off coverage becoming unbalanced in his backpedal. This causes him to get lost in coverage, as his transitions are very spotty leading to a loss of leverage and poor positioning. Complex routes tend to confuse him in zone coverage resulting in poor timing when playing the ball at the point of attack. Davis hushed a few naysayers with his performance at the combine, but his film doesn’t lie. Better suited for press coverage where he can utilize his length and physicality, Davis struggles when tasked with mirroring receivers out of his backpedal. Playing straight up in space, Davis is slow to hit the breaks and challenge comeback routes. Often tasked with covering receivers on an island at Auburn, Davis was extremely aggressive in coverage when playing the ball in the air often taking poor angles and leaving the defense vulnerable to big plays down field. His length helps him play the ball in the air, but a lack of interceptions through a plethora of pass breakups lead many to question his hands. Davis only recorded 1 interception while accounting for 10 breakups during the 2017 season. Davis is a physical specimen that any fan and defensive coordinator would love to have on their roster, but they may get annoyed with his grabby nature. Davis’ physicality is well documented, but he tends to pull on the jersey of receivers who seem like they are going to beat him. Recording a total of six pass interference penalties in 2017 (not including his holding penalties), Davis will need to learn to play the ball rather than the player in close, man-man coverage.


NFL Team Fits

There are many teams that would be thrilled to land the physical playmaker in the 2018 NFL Draft. He is an excellent prospect that excels in press man-man coverage with a willingness to participate in run support. Davis’ combination of size, physicality and athleticism fits the Seahawks mold to the T. Seattle has the 18th pick in the draft (only pick in the first 119 selections) they may look to trade down in the draft; an obvious trade partner would be the Cleveland Browns who have myriad of second and mid round picks. If the Seahawks do indeed trade down, Carlton Davis could fall into their laps early on day 2 of the NFL draft. NFL viewers witnessed the “boom” in the legion of Boom go down with an injury, and the offseason saw the departure of star corner, Richard Sherman and running mate, Jeremy Lane. The Seahawks will need to work to rebuild the physicality and electric play style of the once feared Seattle defense. Davis could provide that burst of youth and energy to a defensive back in need. The Seahawks have developed a mold at corner, and typically go all in on tall and physical corners who can excel in press coverage. If that doesn’t explain the ability of Carlton Davis, I’m not exactly sure what will.

There are many teams in the league that could use corner help, but not each team specializes in man-to-man coverage. A perfect fit for the big-bodied corner, could be playing opposite of highly paid acquisition Stephon Gilmore in New England. Gilmore improved by leaps and bounds as the season progressed, but the Patriots secondary was nothing short of unspectacular, a trait nobody saw coming. It was widely speculated that New England would feature one of the best cornerback duos in the league; however, that prediction fell short. The Patriots lost a step after the departure of perennial team tackle leader, Logan Ryan during the 2017 offseason, and the drop off in production of star corner and Super Bowl hero, Malcolm Butler didn’t help their secondary either. Although the entire secondary gained steam near the closing weeks of the season, it didn’t stop Belichick from making the controversial decision to bench Butler. Now in Tennessee with former teammate, Logan Ryan, the Patriots are in need of a physical and athletic corner to play across Gilmore. The Patriots value physical press corners who can come up and support the run. Davis would be a plug and play starter, adding depth to a secondary that recently added cornerback, Jason McCourty to their ranks.

 The Kansas City Chiefs would be an interesting team fit. The Chiefs run a variety of man coverage looks, and there is a big hole to fill on the boundary after the trade of star but troubled corner, Marcus Peters. They may have brought in Kendall Fuller through the trading of Alex Smith, but he is primarily a slot cover man, and the Chiefs are in need of a physical corner to take over duties on the outside. Like Peters, Davis is an aggressive player with loads of potential and play strength, but Peters was all instincts and ball production, traits Davis has yet to master. If the Chiefs want a player who can disrupt a play before it starts inside of the five-yard mark, then Davis would be a perfect fit; however, they may prefer a player with the type of instincts that Marcus Peters possessed outside of the five-yard window.

It is unlikely that Denzel Ward will be picked up with the fourth overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, and there is a glaring hole in the secondary when discussing the Cleveland Browns. The Browns have a bucket load of draft capital including three second round selections. Carlton Davis is expected by most to be taken in the early to mid part of round two. Davis has the potential to disrupt the catch point while eliminating a third of the field. Davis would add a physical presence to a defense that now features playmakers at all three levels. Davis has the length and ability to hold the boundary and attack down hill in the run game. He would be an interesting match for a team that is beginning to look the part of a franchise who is ready to compete. Though they may need to reconsider the coaching position, before they truly begin to compete for a division title. Carlton Davis would give the Browns an edge and physicality that is long overdo.

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