When Ted Ginn Jr was placed on injured reserve early in the 2018 season, the New Orleans Saints struggled to find another capable pass-catcher to step up along side star wide receiver Michael Thomas. The Saints tried Dez Bryant, but he was injured before his first game. The Saints signed Brandon Marshall, but he was cut. Eventually, the Saints were forced to ask UDFA Keith Kirkwood to contribute, and Kirkwood was a competent replacement at times during the year.
Kirkwood had impressed at times during training camp, and there were many in the Who Dat Nation who were excited to see what the young receiver could bring to the New Orleans offense.
Kirkwood moved up to the active roster in Week 8, and he stayed with the team through the team’s final eight games, starting one. All in all, Kirkwood finished the year with 13 receptions on 21 targets for 209 yards and two touchdowns. He added another touchdown in the divisional round win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
Keith Kirkwood - At a Glance
- Approximate Value: 2 (rookie season)
- Overall Grade: 64.1
- Receiving Grade: 65.2
- Total Snaps: 225 on offense and 43 on special teams
Activated to the main roster November 10th, Kirkwood immediately had his presence felt in the November 11th matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Keith Kirkwood catch for 43 yards pic.twitter.com/nADk361Xmu— Brenden Ertle (@Brenden_Ertle) November 11, 2018
His first career touchdown came just a few weeks later on Thanksgiving Day as a dagger against the rival Atlanta Falcons.
With Kirkwood able to show flashes like this as a rookie in 2018, it’s likely that even if the Saints address the wide receiver position in the 2019 offseason, Kirkwood remains a member of the wide receiver corps for the foreseeable future.
Here’s to hoping he can continue to make strides as an NFL-level wide receiver. Training camp and practice is one thing. We just have to see it translate to production on the field more consistently.