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2019 NFL Draft Profiles: Christian Wilkins, defensive line, Clemson

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Draft kicks off a week from last night, which means we are in the final swing of build up, with mock drafts and analysis of the prospects publishing all over the web. While we will spend the week looking at mock drafts and trying to figure out who the Miami Dolphins will select next Thursday, we will also spend time getting a little better look at some of those prospects.

Today, we add the second prospect to this series. After a look at Florida tackle Jawaan Taylor, we will now get a closer look at Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. Could - or should - the Dolphins select Wilkins with the 13th overall pick?

Christian Wilkins bio

Age: 23 (Dec. 20, 1995)

Born: Springfield, Massachusetts

High School: Suffield Academy, Suffield, Connecticut

College: Clemson

At Clemson, Wilkins started his career with 11 appearances as a true freshman. In four seasons, he recorded 192 tackles with 40.5 of them for a loss, along with 16 sacks, 14 passes defensed, two forced fumbles, and four fumble recoveries. He also had two career rushing touchdowns and a touchdown reception. He won two National Championships in that span, appearing in the title game three times.

He was a unanimous All-American in 2018 and was a First-Team selection in 2016 and 2017. He won the William V. Campbell Trophy in 2018 as the college football player with the best combination of academics, community service, and on-field play. He won the Bill Willis Trophy in 2017 as the top defensive lineman in college football.

He also did this:

Christian Wilkins measurables

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 315 lbs.

Arms: 32-1/2”

Hands: 9-3/4”

40-yard dash: 5.04

Bench press: 28

Vertical jump: 29.5

Broad jump: 107.0

20-yard shuttle: 4.55

What they are saying

Lance Zierlein, - Desired combination of athleticism, production and character with the ability to fit into a stop unit that already has some pieces in place. Wilkins is a slippery, upfield three-technique with the ability to make plays outside his area. He plays with low pads allowing for optimal disruption leverage in the gaps, but he needs to be paired with an attacking front as he lacks the length and strength to hold his ground as a read-and-react tackle. He’s busy and agile as a rusher, which could keep him on the field for more snaps. Comparison: B.J. Hill

Joe Marino, The Draft Network - Wilkins projects favorably to a three-technique role in a 4-3 defense where his leverage, burst, hand technique and flexibility can be used in a penetration-style role. With that said, he isn’t limited to that role and can function in a variety of techniques while offering playmaking upside against the run and pass. Wilkins does have some limitations because he doesn’t play with great extension and his processing skills can stand to improve. Wilkins has played in nearly 60 college games and should be able to step in right away as an impact starter. His football character and intangibles make him a culture-changing addition to an NFL locker room.

Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports - Wilkins can play over center or as a 1 or 2-technique but he also shows speed to shoot the gaps and regularly requires double-teams. He has an effective swim move to beat one-on-one interior linemen to get into backfield and he has a good motor, never giving up on play, hustles downfield to make tackle. Not as explosive or strong as Quinnen Williams but consistent, surprisingly quick and smart. Was also the personal protector on the punt team and even took a snap at safety in the 2018 spring game.Can disappear during stretches and struggles to hold up against double teams, though he had no problem against Alabama here:

Charlie Campbell, Walter Football - In the pass rush, Wilkins is dangerous. He is a quick defender at the point of attack with the ability to fire his gap. He uses his strength to push through blocks and can close in an instant on the quarterback. Wilkins has a burst to fire by guards into the backfield and the strength to bull rush through linemen. He has good hand usage and shows some variety in pass-rushing moves to get after the quarterback. Wilkins has displayed excellent versatility during college in terms of rush production from a variety of positions and techniques. While he played a lot of end in 2016, Wilkins really doesn’t have edge-rusher speed for the NFL. He will have to rush from the inside as a pro, but that is his natural position anyway and he presents a speed mismatch when rushing against guards. Wilkins is a solid run defender, too. He has a strong, thick lower body to hold his ground at the point of attack. He fills his gap and can be tough to move at the line of scrimmage. Wilkins is able to eat up his block and prevent holes from opening up. Regularly, you will see him shed his block to stuff a run near the line of scrimmage or fire into the backfield to disrupt a run off the snap. He also will give an effort to make tackles in the ground game downfield. Wilkins has a quality motor, and you don’t see him dogging it. For the next level, Wilkins fits any defense. His best fit would be as a three-technique defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense. In a 4-3, he also could play end and nose tackle. Wilkins additionally has the length and strength to play end in a 3-4 defense. With Wilkins’ excellent skill set, production, and years of impressive performances against top competition, he looks like a safe pick and a lock to be a top-25 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Comparison: Fletcher Cox.

Video breakdowns and film

Should Dolphins be interested?

Like with Taylor, this is an easy yes for the Dolphins. They need to address the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, and if they are looking for a defensive line prospect, Wilkins could be the perfect choice. He has the skills and potential to play anywhere on the line, in either a 4-3 or a 3-4 front, which could fit perfectly in head coach Brian Flores’ hybrid/versatile defensive system. Add in Miami defensive line coach Marion Hobby, who before a two year stint with the Jacksonville Jaguars was Clemson’s co-defensive coordinator and defensive ends coach from 2011 to 2016 - which included the first two years of Wilkins’ time at the school - and you have a connection that should let Miami know exactly what they would be getting with the selection.


How would you grade the Dolphins pick of Christian Wilkins?

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  • 62%
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  • 4%
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