The complete lowdown on Dolphins rookie free agent Kirk Merritt, from his days at a high school Ed Reed made famous, to his many detours in college, to his pre-draft projection, and more.
A wide receiver from Arkansas State, Merritt was one of 10 rookie free agents the Dolphins after the 2020 NFL draft.
Merritt had a checkered college career, but he ended things strongly at Arkansas State with 83 catches for 1,005 yards and seven touchdowns in 2018 and 70 receptions for 806 yards and 12 touchdowns last year.
Before he started his collegiate career at the University of Oregon, Merritt starred at Destrehan High in Louisiana — the same school that produced University of Miami and Baltimore Ravens star safety Ed Reed.
Merritt's college career began at Oregon in 2015 and he transferred to Texas A&M after his freshman year. Before he ever played at Texas A&M following a redshirt year, Merritt was involved in off-the-field issues and was dismissed from the program.
He then landed at East Mississippi Community College, also known as "Last Chance U" thanks to the Netflix documentary series. In his one season there, he helped EMCC with the 2017 NJCAA national championship.
At Arkansas State, Merritt earned All-Sun Belt Conference honors both years and was the league's Newcomer of the Year in 2018.
Along with the 12 receiving touchdowns last year, he also had a kickoff return for a score.
In terms of sheer athletic ability, Merritt is as good as they come.
He won Nike's SPARQ (speed, power, agility, reaction and quickness) national championship in 2014. Previous winners of the SPARQ title include Washington Redskins safety Landon Collins and 2020 Baltimore Ravens second-round J.K. Dobbins.
Merritt recently showed off his athletic ability with a social media video showing him with a standing jump of 62 inches.
In addition to the jumping, the guy can run, as he demonstrated with a 4.33 40-yard dash during his virtual Pro Day this offseason.
In large part because of the issues at Texas A&M, Merritt was expected to be a late-round pick or an undrafted free agent.
"Without question, Merritt is one of the most athletic and explosive receivers in this draft," draft analyst Lance Zierlein wrote for NFL.com. "For all his physical prowess, he doesn't impose his explosiveness on opponents often enough. The ball skills are impressive, but the route running needs work. The play traits and athleticism would usually be enough for him to land on Day 3, but character concerns in his background could keep him from being picked."
HOW HE FITS
Merritt was one of two wide receivers the Dolphins signed as rookie free agents and both of them — the other is Matt Cole from Division II McKendree University — are really interesting prospects.
The problem both of them will face is the Dolphins' large number of young wide receivers with NFL experience.
Along with Williams, the Dolphins already have DeVante Parker, Albert Wilson, Allen Hurns, Jakeem Grant, Isaiah Ford, Ricardo Louis, Mack Hollins and 2019 Seattle Seahawks fourth-round pick Gary Jennings.
OFF THE FIELD
When he's not focused on football, Merritt likes to paint.
His works can be found on one of his Instagram pages at kirkscreations.
Alain Poupart has covered the Miami Dolphins on a full-time basis since 1989. You can follow him on Twitter at @apoupartFins.