The Cardinals took Texas A&M receiver Christian Kirk -- an Arizona native -- in the second round Friday.
Christian Kirk called it “surreal,” the phone call he got Friday evening from the Cardinals telling him he was their second-round draft pick.
He was at his family’s house in Scottsdale, not too far from the team’s Tempe facility, where the wide receiver starred for Saguaro High School before going on to play at Texas A&M and earning his way up NFL draft boards.
As a pro, he’s coming home.
“So crazy how things go full circle,” Kirk said. “It feels like the stars aligned and it was just meant for me to be here.”
General Manager Steve Keim said he and coach Steve Wilks had been talking about Kirk “for quite some
time” and as a hometown guy, caught the Cardinals’ attention. (Keim also praised the level of local high school football for producing NFL-level talent like Kirk.)
“Not only is he a great player on the field but a class act off,” Keim said. “He fits our DNA, as coach has talked about, over and over.”
Kirk played in college with tight end Ricky Seals-Jones and cornerback Brandon Williams, and in high school with running back D.J. Foster. He also has worked out with new teammate Larry Fitzgerald, and the two communicate regularly.
“He’s a mentor for me,” Kirk said. “He’s always been a guy I looked up to to not only on the field but off the field how to carry myself and the things he does in the community. I’m excited to get with him and learn from him.”
At 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds, Kirk ran a 4.47 40 and at the Scouting combine, he waved away any thought that he isn’t big enough to hold up. In three seasons at Texas A&M, he caught 229 passes for 2,796 yards and 26 touchdowns.
“I think he’s ready to play (as a rookie),” Wilks said. “He’s smart. He’s going to come in and do an outstanding job picking up the offense.”
Kirk also averaged an amazing 22 yards per punt return on 37 tries in his college career, with six
touchdowns. He figures to drop right into that role for the Cardinals, although Keim said he expects incumbent Patrick Peterson “will be bugging coach like he always does.”
Kirk said during his brief draft call his offensive role didn’t come up, but he said in a pre-draft meeting the Cardinals noted that Fitzgerald plays the slot so Kirk would most likely play outside – although he is ready to do both. Wilks wouldn’t get specific, noting that the offense is about system and not scheme, and putting players in the best position to perform.
As the Cardinals build for the future, Kirk also noted he has already had a relationship with first-round quarterback Josh Rosen since they both attended all-star camps in high school.
The Cards needed more at wide receiver. After Fitzgerald, the Cardinals have J.J. Nelson and then relative inexperience with Brice Butler, Chad Williams, Rashad Ross, Carlton Agudosi and Cobi Hamilton.
Now they add the hometown kid, who said he never really thought much about going elsewhere as a pro. He got to experience that at A&M, and he’s now living a “big dream” as a Cardinal.
“It’s my element, it’s my environment,” Kirk said. “I don’t have to adjust to anything. I can just concentrate on playing football.”