The Chiefs draft Ole Miss DT Breeland Speaks at No. 46, and the Cardinals use the 47th pick on Texas A&M WR Christian Kirk.
A closer look at Speaks:
Overview: Speaks moved from middle linebacker to defensive end as a high senior and became a four-star recruit. He joined teammate Rod Taylor (late-round 2018 OL prospect) by staying in-state with the Rebels.
After a redshirt year, Speaks spent two seasons as a part-time starter, totaling 60 tackles (7.0 for loss) and 2.0 sacks from 2015-16 before breaking out with 61 tackles (8.0 for loss) and 7.0 sacks in 2017.
At the NFL Scouting Combine, he tied for fourth in the 40-yard dash (4.87 seconds) and vertical jump (32.5") among defenders over 280 pounds.
Analysis: Speaks sports an impressive combination of size (6-2 7/8, 283 pounds), length (33 3/4" arms) and athleticism, leading to some outstanding plays on film. He carries his weight well and shows good burst and heavy hands. As his tackle numbers indicate, he finds and pursues the ball well, giving great effort and finishing with a physical edge. He also lined up all over the Rebels’ D-line.
Still, Speaks has a long way to go. Long-legged, he usually plays too high, letting blockers into his chest and lacking hand techniques to shed quickly. He shows poor discipline against the run at times and gets washed out of lanes. As a rusher, he mostly ad-libs and relies on physical traits. Other concerns include borderline-dirty play, practice habits and off-field decisions (DUI arrest in March 2016).
Still very raw, Speaks shows enticing flashes amid far too many negatives plays. He projects as a boom-or-bust 3-4 end or strong-side 4-3 end who moves inside on passing downs.
A closer look at Kirk:
Overview: A five-star recruit, Kirk chose the Aggies over UCLA so he could play in the SEC, and he delivered as a true freshman with 80 catches for 1,009 yards and seven scores.
Primarily a slot receiver, he remained productive through his final two seasons despite inconsistent quarterback play in 2017, finishing with 234 career catches for 2,856 yards and 26 TDs in 39 games (36 starts).
He also thrived as a returner, scoring on six of 38 career punt returns and adding another score via kick return. He earned first-team All-SEC honors as a wideout and returner in 2016 and 2017.
Analysis: Though short (5-10 3/8), Kirk is well built (201 pounds) and muscular, and he moves with excellent stop-and-start suddenness. He bursts in and out of breaks with great control and is dangerous before and after the catch. His elusiveness pops on punt returns, where he is a demon in the open field. Coaches laud his maturity and professional approach, suggesting a smooth NFL transition.
Kirk is not an elite prospect because he might be limited to the slot. He’s certainly not slow, but he’s quicker than fast with a limited catch radius, so he rarely threatens defenses vertically. While he shows strong, natural hands, he was inconsistent in traffic and also must improve his ball security (eight career fumbles).
Kirk should contribute from Day 1 as a slot receiver and returner and should be a steady, if not game-breaking, pro.