NAME: Christian Wilkins
POSITION: Defensive Tackle
JERSEY: No. 42
RECRUITMENT RATING: 5-star
WT: 300 lbs
Competitive Toughness –Flies around like a bat out of hell. Relentless in his efforts: will chase from the backside, string out lateral runs into the boundary, bear crawl in the pocket after losing his footing in an effort to get a piece of the passer. Occasional lapses vs. double teams to give ground and lose leverage.
Two Gap Ability –Squatty build provides natural leverage and will help aid against longer armed blockers who win extension after contact. Feel for the play and ability to mirror backs at the LOS and disengage late is very strong, as is hand placement to out-leverage a blocker in tight spaces to shed.
Gap Penetration Skills –Plays with good balance through the gap to push through down blocks and attempts at washing him out of the play. Shows good acceleration after identifying the gap to gain ground and work into a space after stacking a blocker and reading the play.
Tackling –Hasn’t got the length and tackle radius to ensure he finishes plays when he’s stuck up on blockers at the point of attack but his disengagement skills often prevent need to do so. Rapid closing speed and does well to ensure he gets a firm wrap on a limb when working at the fringe of his tackling capability.
Flexibility –Has a good deal of lean and lateral mobility in his lower half. Isn’t a tight athlete and offers the ability to turn the corner in a phone booth to quickly close on his target. Capable of working his hips over top of blockers with good hip hinge and displace himself into adjacent gap.
Pass Rush Counters –Slippery after establishing his fit with his hands. Understands how to manipulate his body and sustain control of his blocker with hands while working lower half into space. Wins with first step quickness, speed to power conversion, rip move from wider angles and second effort.
First Step Quickness –Does not have an elite first step but is quick on the draw nonetheless and fully capable of timing up a snap and exploding into the gap. Wins with quickness on the inside and plays with good acceleration as he gains depth in the pocket to keep momentum and defeat lateral contact.
Feet/Change Of Direction –More nimble than first look would suggest. Momentum can be used against him in some instances but redirection skills and short area agility to cross the face of a blocker are both very strong. Has light feet when working laterally and engaged with blockers.
Versatility –Has been used off the edge in passing situations. Love his ability to anchor against power concepts in the middle and subsequently shuck the block. Penetration player with high production in the backfield as well. Mobile, quick and stout enough to provide effective play in a number of game situations.
BEST TRAIT – Versatility
WORST TRAIT – Length
BEST FILM – Boston College (2018)
WORST FILM – Alabama (2017)
RED FLAGS – None
Christian Wilkins projects favorably into an even front as a true 3T defensive tackle. Wilkins’ versatility would allow him to play at a high level in odd fronts as well, provided he’s tasked with B-gap assignments and allowed to penetrate the pocket. Wilkins has a great nose for the football and is technically advanced, he should be capable of making a positive impact for a defense very early on in his NFL career. Starter with Pro Bowl ceiling.
Hand Usage –
Rush Plan/Counters –
Mental Processing/Block Recognition –
Competitive Toughness –
BEST TRAIT – Hand Usage
WORST TRAIT – Burst
RED FLAGS –
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.