Wide receiver Christian Kirk is among the free agents New York Jets fans should fixate upon in Rams-Cardinals
The first weekend of the 2021-22 NFL playoffs will conclude on Monday night with a matchup between the NFC’s fourth-seeded Los Angeles Rams and fifth-seeded Arizona Cardinals at SoFi Stadium.
With the two NFC West rivals combining for 23 victories in the regular season, there is a lot of cumulative talent between the pair of west-coast squads. Some of the teams’ best players are set to hit free agency, where they could become targets for the cap-space-laden New York Jets.
Here are five soon-to-be free agents on the Rams and Cardinals that Jets fans should watch closely tonight.
Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk (Jersey No. 13)
Christian Kirk caught 77 passes on 103 targets for 982 yards and five touchdowns in 17 games this season. His per-target efficiency was great. Kirk caught 74.8% of his targets (5th among WR with 100+ targets) and averaged 9.5 yards per target (7th).
Kirk only just turned 25 years old in November. He is primarily a slot receiver this season, running 79% of his routes out of the slot, but he can also handle an outside-heavy role, as in 2020 he ran 84% of his routes from out wide.
With DeAndre Hopkins sidelined since Week 15 (he will also miss tonight’s game), Kirk has emerged as Arizona’s top weapon in the passing game. He led the Cardinals with 57.8 receiving yards per game in the regular season.
Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds (Jersey No. 2)
Chase Edmonds can do that. Over the past two seasons, Edmonds has caught 96 of 120 targets for 713 yards and four touchdowns while dropping only two passes (2.0% drop rate).
Edmonds is one heck of a rusher, too. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry this season despite running behind a Cardinals offensive front that ranked 30th-best in PFF’s team-wide run-blocking grade (54.8).
The Fordham product will turn 26 in April.
Rams right guard Austin Corbett (Jersey No. 63)
Austin Corbett is a solid guard in his prime who could be an option for the Jets if they seek someone other than Laurent Duvernay-Tardif at right guard.
Just turning 26 this past September, Corbett ranked as Pro Football Focus’ No. 23 guard out of 63 qualifiers in 2021 with a 69.6 overall grade. That was a step back from 2020, when he ranked 12th out of 60 qualifiers (70.9 grade).
Corbett tends to grade much better in the run game than in pass protection.
Rams center Brian Allen (Jersey No. 55)
Brian Allen, who just turned 26 in October, had a nice year in his first full season as a starting center (making 16 starts).
Allen had some woes in pass protection, tying for the 12th-most pressures allowed among centers (20), but his run blocking was considered excellent. Allen earned the fourth-best run-blocking grade among centers at PFF (87.4).
Rams cornerback Darious Williams (Jersey No. 11)
Darious Williams will turn 29 years old in March, which is getting up there in cornerback years, but he does not have much NFL mileage on his tires. The 2018 undrafted free agent did not become a full-time starting defender until 2020 and has just 26 professional starts under his belt (13 this year).
Williams put himself on the map with a splashy season in 2020, recording four interceptions and 14 passes defended while ranking fifth among all cornerbacks with an 80.0 overall grade at PFF.
In 2021, Williams took a step back when it came to making big plays – he recorded no picks and nine passes defended – but he was still solid overall. His 65.1 grade at PFF ranked 39th out of 82 qualified cornerbacks (53rd percentile).
Tackling is the best part of Williams’ game. He has posted a missed tackle rate under 9% in each of the last three seasons. His missed tackle rate of 8.6% in 2021 ranked 15th-lowest out of 82 qualified corners (83rd percentile).
Look for Williams playing cornerback on the outside of Los Angeles’ defense. He rotates between the left and right sides.