Kevin Wilkins Makes Great First Impression At Shrine Week

Photo: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the most jam-packed two weeks of NFL Draft coverage of you life. Over the next two weeks, The Draft Network will be live at every Shrine Game practice and every Senior Bowl practice evaluating some of the top upperclassmen from the 2019 NFL Draft class in every way, shape and form.

This week we kick things off down in St. Pete, FL with the East-West Shrine Game.

Each day we will be covering both teams' practices in their entireties with video and instant analysis on Twitter, but we'll also have full practice reports up on the site, too. In addition to the practice notes, we'll be rotating with a feature player of the day.

I'm up first, and the player who I wanted to highlight the most after day one is Rutgers defensive tackle Kevin Wilkins.

Wilkins is listed at 6-foot-2, 305 pounds. He was a rotational defensive lineman for three straight seasons with the Scarlett Knights, but he saw his highest amount of playing time in his final season in 2018. Wilkins had seven tackles for loss in 2017 and five tackles for loss in 2018.

In the first Shrine practice of the week, Wilkins made his presence known early. He showed a great first step and ability to get off the ball faster than any other defensive lineman the East roster had to offer -- and showed he was too much for any interior offensive lineman the East roster had, as well.

Wilkins put on a clinic against some of the Shrine offensive linemen. He wasn't completely unblockable throughout the day, but when he was able to get his hands up and into the right places and pair it with that great first step, it became poetry in motion, as shown above.

But Wilkins also has a great story to go behind some nice football traits.

Wilkins went through 14 different foster homes growing up in New Jersey. He talks about being taken away from his mother at a very young age, a moment he remembers vividly as strange people walked into his house, put his clothes and belongings into bags and walked him out of his biological mother's home. Wilkins described the hardships in his life as "normal," and upbringing that has surely shaped him to become both the man and football player he is today. Today, after all he went through, Wilkins has strong relationships with both his biological mother and the woman who adopted him.

Wilkins says he doesn't mind opening up about his past because he hopes he can be an example to others that no matter how bad things get, you can always pull yourself up, or at least make the most of any situation.

If Wilkins continues to play the way he did on day one of Shrine Week practice, he'll get plenty more opportunities to tell his story, because the end of the story success will get better and better.

Written By:

Trevor Sikkema

Senior NFL Draft Analyst

Senior NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network. Co-Host of the Locked On NFL Draft Podcast.