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POST DRAFT ANALYSIS

SI
"This is a fascinating selection: Presumably, new Dolphins head coach Brian Flores will run the Patriots-style scheme that he has spent his entire career teaching. Wilkins has the size that the scheme demands, but stylistically, his game is built more on quickness and movement than raw power. Perhaps Flores envisions Wilkins filling the Trey Flowers role. The two have different body types, but Flowers always thrived on the stunts and twists that Wilkins seems tailor-made to execute."

NFL.COM's Daniel Jeremiah
There's some value for you. I did not think he would fall this far. I thought there would be no way he'd be here for the Dolphins, but he was. He has quick hands, quick feet and can create an inside pass rush. He's best on the backside in the run game. Not a power guy, but has a great first step and slips blockers.

ESPN
Miami is looking to improve a defense that ranked 31st in rushing yards allowed per game last season. The Dolphins should know how to make the most of Wilkins' skill set, as defensive line coach Marion Hobby worked with Wilkins when he was Clemson's DE coach early in Wilkins' career. He’s my seventh overall player in this draft. I did not think he would end up falling all the way down here. I thought there was no way this kid was going to be here. He’s dominant on the back side as a run defender. Quick feet and hands. He’s dominant on the back side as a run defender. Reminds me a lot of six-time NFL Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy when you study him on college tape.

PFF
Miami selects PFF’s No. 25 overall player in the draft in former Clemson standout Christian Wilkins. Extremely athletic for his size, Wilkins is top-tier interior pass-rusher with solid positional versatility. He was top three in both run-defense and pass-rushing grade among interior players this past season.

    • 3rd overall grade among DI
    • 4th pass-rush grade among DI
    • 2nd pressure rate among DI (14.0)
    • 2nd run stop % among DI (11.9)

RotoWorld
Wilkins (6’3/315) made 45 starts at Clemson, tallying 41 TFLs with 16 sacks while seeing action at both tackle and end and earning the 2018 William Campbell Trophy, equivalent to the academic Heisman. PFF College credited Wilkins with 47 QB pressures – most among ACC interior linemen last season – and Wilkins’ 16 career passes defensed led all draft-eligible DLs and EDGE prospects. Turning 24 in December, Wilkins is a bit old for a rookie, however, and his 47th-percentile SPARQ results make it fair to suggest Wilkins has maxed out. Nevertheless, his motor, flexibility, and quick first step render Wilkins a high-floor prospect and probable long-term quality starter. It's a savvy pick by a truly rebuild-committed Dolphins team.

ESPN's Louis Reddick
Christian Wilkins is fantastic. Who’s going to have more scheme versatility than [Dolphins coach] Brian Flores and who is going to require your players to be very smart like Wilkins, who is one of the smartest players in this draft? It’s a perfect marriage.

NFL Net’s Kurt Warner
This is my favorite player in the draft. The way he plays, his athleticism, his get off, his toughness, his leadership. He won the academic Heisman this past year. He has quickness. He is so active. You talk to Dabo Swinney, he’s the heartbeat of that (Clemson) team.

CBS Sports Pete Prisco
This is my favorite pick of the entire draft so far. Love this pick. I think this kid is going to be a star. I was all over Grady Jarrett when he was picked and I think Wilkins could be even better. This is a good building block for Brian Flores and his staff. Grade: A+

Yahoo! Sports
Big, big athlete. Wilkins is a high-character guy who will make the Dolphins locker room better Day 1. He’s a versatile guy who will help shore up a bad rushing defense. Grade B

 

 

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Player Bio

Not only is Wilkins a star defensive lineman for the Tigers, but he was also the first scholarship Clemson football player to earn a degree in just two and a half years. His work in the classroom, in the community and on the field earned him the prestigious William V. Campbell Trophy after his senior season. Wilkins was also a first-team Associated Press All-American and first-team All-ACC selection for his play (57 tackles, 15 for loss, six sacks, two forced fumbles), which helped the Tigers win their second national title since he arrived on campus. The top 25 national recruit broke out in a big way his freshman year, earning Freshman All-American honors by racking up 84 tackles, 4.5 for loss, and two sacks in 15 games. Wilkins had 10 tackles in 35 snaps against Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl that season. In the team's 2016 national championship season, he was a third-team Associated Press All-American and second-teams All-ACC selection, starting all 15 games and compiling 56 stops, 13 for loss, and 3.5 sacks. He also set a school record for defensive linemen with 10 pass breakups. Wilkins was a permanent team captain in 2017, starting all 14 games, making 53 tackles (8.5 for loss, 4.5 sacks) playing primarily inside after spending time at defensive end in previous seasons. His grandfather, Eurie Stamps, was killed when a SWAT team rifle accidentally discharged during a raid of his apartment in January 2011. They were looking for Stamps' stepson and two friends accused of selling drugs from the apartment. Wilkins split time during middle and early high school living with his stepfather (where he was when the raid took place) and with Stamps.

Analysis

  • Draft Projection: Round 1

Overview

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.

Strengths

  • Locker room leader with character that is off the charts
  • Face of the franchise personality
  • Experience as base end and defensive tackle
  • Instant snap reaction with fast hands into contact
  • Highly efficient in his movement
  • Stays under opponent's pads throughout the rep
  • Lateral quickness to disrupt in gaps
  • Can contort and slither around blocker's pads
  • Rare flexibility creates functional balance at awkward angles
  • Short area agility of a linebacker
  • Active to improve rush positioning
  • Shifts hips for optimal cornering inside the pocket
  • Can drop into space on zone-blitz calls
  • Batted down 15 passes during career

Weaknesses

  • Initial quickness gives way to fatigue as rep continues
  • Overall play strength can improve
  • Not enough extension/separation after initial punch
  • Thick lower half missing quality anchor
  • Struggles with contact balance on down blocks
  • Lacks length and power to excel in two-gap scheme
  • Folded and collapsed when facing powerful double teams
  • Can do a better job of defeating reach blocks against him
  • Offensive linemen with length can bother him
  • Lacks length to pry off blocks
  • Average strength in playing through redirect blocks in pass rush
  • Scheme dependent

OUTLOOK:
It is not often that a player is voted a Freshman All-American and a year later is asked to switch positions but that is precisely what the Clemson Tigers did with Wilkins, a testament not only to his unique talent but the remarkable depth which led the team to playoff berths each of his four seasons on campus, not to mention national championships two of the past three seasons. The footwork that makes Wilkins such a unique defensive tackle dates back to his days on the basketball court. Besides starring on the gridiron, Wilkins was a four-year letterman in basketball who averaged 19.9 points and 11.8 rebounds per game as a junior. Wilkins signed with Clemson as one of the more highly regarded prep prospects in the country and immediately lived up to his billing, recording an eye-popping 84 tackles, including 4.5 for loss and two sacks despite only starting one of 15 games as a true freshman. Wilkins slid outside to defensive end in 2016, recording 13 tackles for loss and three sacks while leading the Tigers with 20 quarterback hurries. He also set a new school record for defensive ends with 10 passes broken up, again earning All-American. Despite being moved back inside and emerging as the focus of most opponents' blocking schemes in 2017. A proven standout as a hand-in-the-dirt defensive lineman inside and out (and even as a stand-up edge rusher), Wilkins will generate early first round interest from clubs regardless of their scheme. He projects best as a classic three-technique defensive tackle in a 4-3 alignment but has proven his ability to play multiple roles.

PROS:
Wilkins has a short, stumpy frame well-suited to playing inside at defensive tackle, belying surprising (for his frame) natural athleticism. He possesses terrific initial quickness to split gaps and possesses the lateral agility and balance of a much smaller man, showing enough burst to cross the face of tackles when slid outside, record tackles while covering punts or converting fake punts on designed passes and runs. Wilkins complements his light steps with uncommon coordination between his hands and feet, marrying the two to slip, slide and wiggle his way out of blocks and pursuing laterally. Wilkins possesses remarkable hand-eye coordination, snaking out an arm to trip up ball-carriers seemingly out of his grasp and timing his leap to tip passes at the line of scrimmage, including a school record (for defensive ends) 10 in 2016. His stout frame and strength help Wilkins hold up at the point of attack, including the ability to split double-teams. Though he was blessed with first round athleticism, Wilkins plays like an undrafted free agent trying to make the team, pursuing laterally and downfield with passion and playing on three different special teams units. Wilkins has not missed a game over his four seasons at Clemson and comes with a sterling reputation off the field, including earning Academic All-American accolades. A Communications major with an upbeat personality, Wilkins is popular with teammates and the Clemson coaching staff.

CONS:
In an era in which NFL linemen seemingly get bigger every year, Wilkins checks in slightly smaller than the league average, lacking the sand in his pants some teams would prefer inside. This is especially evident against double-teams, where Wilkins is reliant upon splitting them to be effective, struggling to anchor and create a pile. He is very athletic for his frame but does not project as a true defensive end in a 4-3 alignment, as he starred in 2016 for the Tigers. Though his gaudy tackle statistics are impressive, too many of them occur yards downfield.

COMPARISON:
Gerald McCoy, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - but in terms of their consistency, dependability and off-beat personalities there are just too many similarities to ignore. Wilkins possesses a slightly shorter, rounder frame but teams but a similar blend of initial quickness and instincts to project as a long-time NFL standout.

 

Strong Points:
Good DT size and a good athlete for his position. Because of his talent, he has lined up all along the defensive line, playing both inside and outside. Instinctive player who reacts quickly. Good snap reaction with a quick first step. Can be disruptive in the run game. Improved as a pass rusher in 2018. Flashes the ability to dominate when he wants. Almost came out in 2018, but helped himself by staying in school. Can play in any scheme. Will probably get bigger once he gets to the NFL.

Weak Points:
Good but not quite ideal size and power for the position. At times can be slow off blocks. Not dominant in any one area but good in all of them. Hand use has improved but still needs to get better. Average as an inside pass rusher.

The Way We See It:
Almost entered the draft last year, but improved his stock in returning to a dominating D-line that helped Clemson win the national championship. His play improved in all areas, as did his consistency. Has experience playing inside and outside but will be an inside player at the next level. Can play either the 3- or 5-technique. Based on his 2016 tape, most observers thought that he would become a dominating college defensive lineman. He never did, but he is a good, consistent player who will be very good as a rotational lineman at the next level. Has the athleticism to be a better pass rusher than he was at Clemson, and that might still happen when he gets to the NFL. In an extremely deep class, Wilkins won't go in the first round, but he should be a solid second-rounder who contributes right away.

Arthur Arkush:
An agile big man with a knack for piercing gaps and finding the football, Wilkins has a disruptive skill set with enough smarts and athleticism to play in multiple alignments. He's not a run-game anchor who can consistently take on double teams, but that's not what a smart team will ask of Wilkins. He'll be best as a playmaking three technique, creating havoc and plenty of opportunities for his teammates with his quickness off the ball (effective inside swim) and snap-to-whistle relentlessness. Does the fact that Wilkins was surrounded by so much blue-chip DL talent complicate his evaluation? Perhaps a bit, but he sure looked great in the title game sans Dexter Lawrence, and his effort and football character should be welcome qualities in any locker room.

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