For a conference that doesn’t elicit the same flashy reputation for working scoreboards into submission like the Big 12 or Pac-12, the SEC sure knows how to produce players who make an instant impact on NFL offenses.
The latest evidence of this came from former Tennessee RB Alvin Kamara, who became the fifth straight AP Offensive Rookie of the Year to come from the SEC after a stellar debut season with the New Orleans Saints.
If you actually go back a little more, the conference boasts seven of the last nine.
What’s even more incredible about this stretch? All of the players hail from different schools. Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott (2016), Georgia RB Todd Gurley (2015), LSU WR Odell Beckham (2014) and Alabama RB Eddie Lacy (2013).
When considering Auburn QB Cam Newton (2011) and Florida WR Percy Harvin (2009) also won it, that means half of the SEC’s schools have produced the NFL’s top offensive rookie in the last nine seasons. That’s remarkable.
Can yet another school add itself to this impressive run? There’s no doubt about it.
Texas A&M WR Christian Kirk, projected by SEC Country as a top 10 pick and the second SEC player off the board in this year’s draft, has the ability to make his presence felt in multiple ways.
The 5-foot-11, 200-pound dynamo was a First Team All-SEC selection at three different positions as a sophomore. As a junior, he was a first-team selection as an all-purpose player and return specialist and second-teamer at receiver.
Over the course of his career in College Station, Kirk recorded seven return touchdowns (6 punt returns and 1 kickoff return). In fact, no FBS player has ever been better as a punt returner as Kirk’s career average of 22 yards per return is an FBS record (minimum 1.5 punt returns per game).
When it comes to his skills as a pass catcher, scouts don’t have to do too much digging. Against Wake Forest in the Belk Bowl, his last game as an Aggie, Kirk set career highs in receptions (13), receiving yards (189) and receiving TDs (3).
Kirk’s chances of taking home the honor will certainly rise if he goes to a franchise that’s desperate for a receiver, such as the Chicago Bears, who are currently slated to take him at No. 8 in our latest mock draft.
We’re not the only ones who think the Scottsdale, Arizona native is among the best bets to explode on the scene. NFL draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah recently pegged Kirk as one of the top five rookies who will make the biggest early impression as rookies on either side of the ball.
“Some teams have Kirk as a late-first-round player, while others view him more as a second-round option. Almost everyone agrees that he’s one of the most polished players in the draft,” Jeremiah said. “He’s a refined route runner and should quickly emerge as one of the league’s most effective slot receivers. Cooper Kupp made a big-time impact as a rookie for the Rams working out of the slot last fall, and I expect similar results from Kirk in 2018.”
There are certainly other candidates from the SEC who could extend the streak from schools who’ve already been represented during this span, such as LSU RB Derrius Guice and Alabama WR Calvin Ridley.
Both Guice (No. 16 to the Baltimore Ravens) and Ridley (No. 18 to the Seattle Seahawks) are both first-round picks on every mock draft out there.
The post Can SEC make it 6-for-6 producing the NFL’s top offensive rookie? Yes, it certainly can appeared first on SEC Country.