It's no secret to anyone that the Bears need wide receiver improvements. While a new coach does bring new opportunities for Tarik Cohen as a pass catcher, he is not a wide receiver.
It's also no secret that taking a wide receiver with the 8th overall pick is not exactly the smartest idea anyone has ever come up with. Ryan Pace has been burned there before, and it's reasonable to assume he will not take that risk again.
Thus, the second round is the ideal spot for the Bears to be looking at taking a wide receiver. And, when you look at second-round talents, one stands out: Texas A&M's Christian Kirk.
Kirk is this draft's version of Jarvis Landry, in more ways than one. He's the stereotypical slot receiver who is going to give a team a consistent amount of catches per game and put up good production. They are also eerily similar to each other in stature. Kirk was measured at 5' 10 3/8" at the combine, weighing in at 201 pounds. Landry is currently listed on nfl.com at 5'11", weighing 208 pounds.
However, unlike Landry, Kirk isn't going to be making an otherworldly sum of money for his talents. I have been one of Jarvis Landry's critics this offseason, as I do not feel he deserves anywhere near the sum of money that the franchise tag will be paying him. A (likely) second-round rookie contract makes Kirk a much better value at this current time than Landry.
Also unlike Landry, Kirk does possess the ability to play out of the slot role, which he did on many occasions at A&M.
As you can see in this video, Kirk is lined as a halfback in the red zone, running a mini-wheel route for the score. Kirk also uses his incredible route-running to shake freshman Koby Davis off of the route, freeing himself up for an easy score.
Kirk's route-running, which is already at an insanely high level, is a big part of the reason why Kirk is the "safest" of the wide receivers. Many of Kirk's talents are going to translate over the league without much of a worry. No matter what happens to his speed, Kirk will always have the route-running to make himself a viable wide receiver.
That being said, Kirk is enough of an athlete for there to be a belief that it will not be a one-tool player like many slot receivers are in today's NFL.
Watch this clip of Kirk this past season against Wake Forest. A wide receiver, especially a slot receiver, is not supposed to have the strength to plant someone on the turf with a stiff-arm like this. That being said, the stiff arm may be the third most impressive thing about this play.
Kirk has the wherewithal to cut inside of the blocker, who seemingly allows Ja'sir Taylor (#24) get by on the outside. Kirk has to plant his foot into the ground and turn on a dime, as if he was just a step late, Taylor would have lit him up. He does this despite any gap being sealed by Jessie Bates, who is the defender that he stiff arms into oblivion.
The third insanely impressive thing about this play is Kirk's body control along the sideline. With two defenders closing in on him along the sideline, Kirk is able to race both to the pylon and win, despite being a shoestring's length away from the sidelines. As the announcer in the background says, this translates to the next level. It's plays like this that cements some prospects' names on draft boards, and this one has cemented Kirk's on mine.
While it is rather inconsequential due to the needs of the position, it is worth noting that Christian Kirk benched 20 reps at the combine, more than both Courtland Sutton and Calvin Ridley. Kirk also ran a 4.47 40-yard dash, which more than proves he shouldn't be stuck in the slot.
All that being said, his film is absolutely fantastic. The one thing which made him stick out ahead of guys like DJ Moore, DJ Chark, Anthony Miller, and Equanimous St. Brown wasn't in the film, but rather in a graphic which was shown in one of his games.
ESPN was talking about his training regiment, which includes drinking a shake infused with liver -- yes, liver -- to keep in football shape. That more than speaks to Kirk's work ethic and desire to perfect his craft, which is, in my opinion, the most critical mental aspect to consider when drafting a prospect. So many guys with natural talent just don't "want it" bad enough, which has led to some of the NFL's most colossal busts.
Kirk won't be that guy, which is why he should be high on all 32 NFL teams' radars, including Ryan Pace's.
Like Matt Nagy, Texas A&M runs a west coast scheme, meaning the adjustment period for Christian Kirk won't be as high as other guys. Unlike many others' WR2, Courtland Sutton, Kirk doesn't fit the "Alshon Jeffery role," as he stands almost a half a foot shorter than the ex-Bear.
As part of a west coast scheme, that kind of player isn't as useful. Last season, the Chiefs didn't have any wide receiver who played along those lines, and there is no reason to believe Matt Nagy will want one now that he on this side of the Mississippi. Ryan Pace has shown an infatuation towards receivers who have value in the slot, as Kirk does.
However, as previously noted, he is more than a slot receiver. He is more than capable of playing outside opposite Cameron Meredith or another free agent signing, as well as run in the slot. This versatility is another key asset for Kirk, who should be skyrocketing up draft boards after an impressive combine performance.