Arizona Cardinals’ wide receiver Christian Kirk proved to be an outstanding screen runner in his rookie season.
In his first season with the Arizona Cardinals, wide receiver Christian Kirk proved to be worth his second round selection. Tallying 590 yards and three touchdowns on 43 catches in 12 games, the then-rookie was a bright spot for the lowly 2018 Cardinals, but his box score stats aren’t the only reason why.
Per Pro Football Focus, there wasn’t a better screen route-runner in the NFL than Kirk. Per the analytics firm, he caught 9 for 11 targets and turned that into 105 yards, four first downs, and a touchdown. Though he didn’t have an abundance of targets on screens, he did lead the league in wide receiver rating on them with a 137.6.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Kirk is one of the better screen specialists in the league. Though he doesn’t possess elite speed, his 4.47 second 40-yard-dash time is nothing to scoff at. But, maybe more important; his footwork, awareness, and lateral quickness made Kirk a genuine YAC threat on every play.
In 2019, we can expect more of the same from Kirk on a higher scale. Kliff Kingsbury’s offense has been noted to utilize screens to the extreme as either a decoy or an easy chain mover. With Kirk and now Andy Isabella in-fold, we will likely see a lot of tunnel or bubble screens to receivers.
Both Kirk and Isabella will also likely be utilized on gadget plays as well. Plays such as jet sweeps or receiver pitches will show off their speed and agility to the max. An excellent reference to how the Cardinals might utilize the two should be how Chiefs’ head coach Andy Reid does the same on creative screens and gadgets.