Of the positions on the New England Patriots' current roster, few appear to be as deep as wide receiver: Led by de facto starters Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan, the team currently has 10 players under contact, which will make for a competitive offseason workouts and later training camp. Naturally, any further additions through the draft will have to be up to speed quickly to earn practice reps, playing time and possibly a roster spot.
This holds especially true for wide receivers brought in late in the draft or via free agency afterwards. Texas A&M's Christian Kirk will not be one of them and therefore likely earn a roster spot with his new team based on a combination of skills, athleticism and in part draft pedigree: Kirk, arguably the best slot receiver in this year's draft, might come off the board as early as the first-round when it is all said and done.
Whether the Patriots will invest one of their early-round selections in the 5'10, 210 lbs wideout will be seen in a little more than two weeks. What we already know, however, is that the team is doing its homework on the 21-year old: Judging by an Instagram post of his (via Rotoworld's Josh Norris), Kirk is currently in New England, which means that he is having the previously reported top-30 visit with the team these days.
Kirk is certainly an intriguing prospect, who displayed explosiveness, great hands and solid route running abilities throughout his three years at Texas A&M. Overall, he finished his college career with 229 catches for 2,796 yards and 26 touchdowns – all while serving as his team’s primary punt returner as well. Judged by his past production and skill set, he looks like a perfect fit for an offense that turned players like Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola into stars.
As noted above, Kirk might be selected as early as day one – he is one of the few standouts of a generally thin wide receiver class – but should at least hear his name called in the second round. The Patriots have two picks in each of the first two rounds of the draft and would be in a prime position to invest in a player like Kirk; a wide receiver that offers long-term potential on offense and could instantly help in the kicking game as well.
What also needs to be kept in mind is that Kirk would be a comparatively cheap option. As colleague Rich Hill notes, the wide receiver market is shifting towards players on cost-effective rookie deals – either draft choices or restricted free agents. Kirk, who would sign a four-year deal (plus potentially a fifth-year option if he goes in round one) with the team that drafts him, is just that: A talented wide receiver that can help a team for relatively little cost.
It would therefore not be a surprise to see New England invest in Kirk if the opportunity presents itself: While Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Jordan Matthews, Cordarrelle Patterson and Kenny Britt are all entering the final years of their respective deals, Kirk would be under the Patriots' control for the foreseeable future – bringing not only talent and upside to the wide receiver corps but also creating stability at the position.