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Why the Dolphins selected Christian Wilkins: ‘Tough, smart, leader, prototype player’

NFL: NFL Draft Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins have made their first pick of the 2019 NFL Draft, and, more importantly, the first pick of the head coach Brian Flores and general manager Chris Grier era (or the fully empowered Chris Grier to be more precise). Adding Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins with the 13th overall selection, the Dolphins added a piece to their defensive line who should immediately improve the play of the group. He is a versatile piece who can be used in multiple ways on the line of scrimmage, and he could be exactly what the Dolphins need.

But why was the right choice for the Dolphins, when there were plenty of other options including quarterbacks Dwayne Haskins and Drew Lock available? It really was a pretty simple decision. “We considered them, but Christian (Wilkins) was higher on the board for us in our rankings,” Grier said.

Before the Draft, Grier mentioned that Miami considered five defensive lineman as elite prospects. “For us, (yes),” he said of if Wilkins was one of those five. “Again, when I said that, it’s all in the context of schemes. Guys fit different schemes and what they’re doing. He was a player that we thought had a unique skillset for the position.”

Wilkins could line up as a defensive end, defensive tackle, or nose tackle for the Miami defense, and that played into the team’s decision to select me. “The thing that we loved, and Brian (Flores), what we talked about…You’ve heard Brian at New England talk about guys that have position flexibility and being versatile and you saw that at Clemson. He plays nose, three (technique and) defensive end and he’s been productive playing a lot of different spots. For a guy that big to be able to do that many jobs on a d-line is rare. So we were very excited to have him.”

The Dolphins have holes and needs all over their roster, with defensive tackle not necessarily the top priority in the eyes of many analysts. “Like we said, we wanted to address everything,” Grier explained of taking a defensive tackle in the first round. “Where we are, we have to build the roster up and create depth and competition everywhere. Yeah, the lines were ones we had talked about (addressing). We had talked about (addressing) really at every position still and we’ve just got to get better everywhere.”

The Dolphins decision to select Wilkins was an easy one, according to Grier. For us, Christian was one of our players we kind of targeted throughout the draft,” he stated. “We worked with Brian and the coaching staff and our scouting department (and) he was someone we felt very strongly about. He’s got a history of production, (is a) leader, a two-time captain there (at Clemson). (He’s a) very smart, versatile football player. (He was) highly productive. (We) love the size, the athletic ability, (and the) things he’ll add to the locker room, not just the field. For us, we were very excited and for us, it was an easy decision. We’re very happy to welcome Christian.”

The Dolphins seem to have landed a player they wanted at a position of need with the versatility to create match-up issues. Miami selected Wilkins because he checked every block they had for making the first round selection, and they seem very happy that the draft board fell the way it did.