NFL Football

Cardinals address WR needs with player from just down road

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

By BOB BAUM

AP Sports Writer

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Arizona addressed a need in the second round of the NFL draft, selecting wide receiver Christian Kirk of Texas A&M, who grew up just a few miles down the road from the Cardinals' headquarters.

The 5-foot-11, 205-pound receiver lists the Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald as a mentor and has a couple of former A&M teammates on the Cardinals roster. He said "the stars aligned" for him to go to his hometown team.

Arizona has Fitzgerald and not much else at wide receiver so Kirk has a chance to help right away. Kirk - a star at Saguaro High School in Scottsdale - had more than 3,000 all-purpose yards and 40 touchdowns in his three seasons with Texas A&M.

"I'm a Valley kid, born and raised," Kirk said. "So just to be able to have this opportunity to go into the Cardinals organization and help make this organization better and to win games. When I got the phone call, it was just so surreal. Just no words to be able to describe it."

Kirk also is a standout punt returner, something the Cardinals already have talked to him about.

"Yes, sir," he said. "Special teams, every aspect, punt and kick return and to just be able to do that wherever I can bring value and have an impact on the field."

He was the 47th player overall and fifth wide receiver chosen in the draft.

General manager Steve Keim said he'd followed Kirk's career for some time because of the local ties.

"Not only is he a great player on the field but he's certainly a class act off," Keim said. "Fits our DNA that coach has talked about over and over. Not only a very good receiver, dynamic player but also adds value in the return game."

Kirk said Fitzgerald has "always been a guy that I've looked up to, just not only on the field but off the field, to be able to carry myself.

"The things that he does in the community. I'm just so excited to get out with him," Kirk said, "and be able to learn from a future Hall of Fame wide receiver and go out there and be able to play together."

Cardinals tight end Ricky Seals-Jones and cornerback Brandon Williams were his teammates at Texas A&M. Arizona running back D.J. Foster was "a big brother to me" as teammates at Saguaro High, he said.

"It's crazy how things go full circle," Kirk said. "It feels like all the stars aligned and it was just meant for me to be here."

In three seasons with the Aggies, Kirk caught 234 passes for 2,856 yards and 26 touchdowns.

Arizona's only other pick on Friday was a compensatory selection, the 97th choice overall, and the Cardinals used it to take versatile offensive lineman Mason Cole from Michigan. The 6-foot-5, 298-pound Cole said he can play all along the offensive line but is most comfortable at center and guard.

At Michigan, he became the first true freshman to start a season opener on the offensive line. Cole started every game in his Michigan career. Cole began as a tackle, shifted to center and went back to tackle because of a team need there in his final season, Keim said.

Arizona traded its own third-round pick, the 79th selection overall, to Oakland as part of the deal that allowed the Cardinals to move up five spaces and take quarterback Josh Rosen 10th overall in the first round on Thursday.

Through the first three rounds, the Cardinals have yet to draft a defensive player.

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Updated April 27, 2018

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