INDIANAPOLIS — If you had questions whether Christian Kirk can be a big-time receiver at the next level, the former Texas A&M star seemed to deliver answers at the NFL Combine last week.
Kirk put together one of the most impressive performances in Indianapolis as he continues to make his case as the best receiver in this year's draft class.
"I think I'm at the top. I think you're wrong if you don't believe that you are," Kirk said Friday. "I think you should have the confidence that every time you step on the field you're the best player out there."
In three seasons in College Station, Kirk was one of college football's most productive receivers year in and year out, amassing 229 catches for 2,796 yards and 26 touchdowns. He validated that production with a strong showing at the combine, clocking one of the fastest 40-yard dash times (4.47), 20 reps on the bench press (tied for fourth-most) while looking sharp during on-field workouts. Equally important, Kirk also reportedly impressed teams with his high football IQ and character in meetings throughout the week.
Kirk is among a group of receivers the Browns could add to a position group that struggled last season. While it's likely Cleveland — owners of the first and fourth overall picks — will use those selections on more pressing roster needs, Kirk could be an intriguing option for the Browns provided he falls to Day 2.
In his list of the top 50 draft prospects, NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah ranked Kirk No. 29, describing him as wide receiver who's built like a running back. "He understands how to leverage defensive backs, sell double-moves and cleanly enter/exit the break point," Jeremiah wrote. "He has strong hands and tracks the ball smoothly. He does a lot of work in the middle of the field and doesn't let the heavy traffic affect his concentration. I love his strength, elusiveness and will after the catch."
At 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds, some have branded Kirk as a slot receiver whose skill set doesn't lend itself to being a game-changing, downfield receiver. He shrugged that criticism off in a news conference. "That's definitely been some of the questions during my formal interviews, if I can do it. I know 100 percent that I can do it," he said. "Whenever a coach tells me to do something, I'm going to do it to the best of my ability and I have the confidence I can go outside and win one-on-one, get off of press. At Texas A&M I was asked to play in the slot and that's what I did. If they were to ask me to play outside, I believe I would've thrived there as well."
He added: "There's a lot of receivers in the league right now that are under 6-foot that are excelling. I'm just ready to go out there and prove that I can be another guy where height doesn't matter."
At the very least, Kirk's strong combine performance puts him in the mix along with Alabama's Calvin Ridley and as the class' best pass catcher. He'll keep trying to make that case over the coming months.
"I have 100 percent confidence in what I can do," Kirk said, "and what I'm going to be able to do at the next level."