NAME: Christian Wilkins
POSITION: Defensive Tackle
JERSEY: No. 42
RECRUITMENT RATING: 5-star
WT: 300 lbs
PROS: Hustler who plays hard and physical. Has flexibility and bend to turn tight corners and re-direct in space. Good first step to threaten gaps. Flashes hand usage and moves as a pass rusher. Finds the blocker’s edge and fights upfield. Has some pass rush traits that are desirable. Tough to reach block on the inside. Experience playing on the edge. Good tackler.
CONS: Lacks the power, pad level and hand placement to control blockers. Inconsistent arm extension and constantly hung up on blocks. Struggles to really control and maintain gaps. Often widened in his gap or pushed back a couple yards deep. Must play lower and win initial contact more often. Exposes a lot of surface area as a gap shooter and will get ridden away from the pocket. First step isn’t elite enough to be a calling card. Inconsistent in his get-off.
While Wilkins (6-4, 300 pounds) doesn’t have the same mass as fellow defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, what he lacks in size he makes up for in movement skills. A two-time All-ACC and All-American, Wilkins enters his senior season as the most experienced of Clemson’s defensive lineman.
While he isn’t overly dynamic, Wilkins brings penetrating ability to the table with his blend of quickness and a hot-running motor. He excels at attacking a single gap and working into the backfield. He showcases good change of direction skills and flexibility to extend his range.
As a run defender, Wilkins has modest power at the point of attack but does well to use his hands to keep his pads clean and stay on the attack. In terms of stacking blockers at the line of scrimmage and disengaging, that simply isn’t how Wilkins finds success. He excels attacking gaps and moving around to create opportunities to penetrate.
When rushing the passer, Wilkins burst, active hands, urgency and flexibility leads to fairly consistent pressure. Showcasing a decent amount of variety to is repertoire, Wilkins also features the ability to push the pocket with an adequate bull rush.
Does Wilkins have first round potential? Absolutely but there is still another step he needs to take as both a pass rusher and run defender to cement his status as an upper-echelon prospect. The stage is set for him to put it all together as a senior in a season with lofty expectations.