Run Defense - Love the way he competes for his gap, plays with leverage and works to fit his hands so he can unhinge. Lethal when shooting gaps, particularly slanting inside to the b-gap. Ragdolls tight ends but his anchor can be compromised by physical offensive tackles. Takes his responsibility as a contain player seriously.
Pass Rush - Does a great job of working to the edges of blockers to give him a chance to corner, flatten and get to the passer. Rush is predicated around fitting his hands with a one-arm stab so that he can power through rush angles. Excellent footwork -- clean out of his stance, gains depth and keeps his toes pointed at the quarterback. Rush plan can be predictable, timing of hand swipes needs improvement and deploying counters is inconsistent.
Burst - Wouldn’t call him overly explosive but he is fluid out of his stance and he gains good depth with his initial steps. Love his laterally mobility when slanting inside. May not have elite closing speed but he gets to his top speed in a hurry.
Effort - Completely unrelenting. Always works hard in pursuit and competes through the whistle. Hustle plays are found everywhere in his film.
Hand Technique - Does well to fit and place his hands but timing can improve. Often tardy to get to secondary counters and he isn’t a master of stringing moves together. Would like to see him execute moves with better timing.
Flexibility - Has enough flexibility in his lowers to corner. Gets ahead of any tightness with clean footwork and using his hands to soften angles. Love how he keeps feet aligned to complement his rush which is also helpful working through stiffness. Can get caught offering too much surface area to blocker and he struggles to reduce and diminish his uppers/
Processing - Generally speaking he plays fast but his eyes can get caught in the backfield which can get him in trouble at the next level. Has feasted off unblocked scenarios. Vision to read the pocket and attack is adequate.
Play Strength - He’s a physical player but there’s room for him to get stronger. Competes in run support but he can get worked by aggressive drive blockers. Isn’t much of a threat to convert speed to power and truly compromise the width of the pocket with a bull rush if it isn’t of the long-arm variety.
Versatility - Michigan State had him lineup inside on occasion but he doesn’t project favorably to doing so in the NFL. He’s a 4-3 defensive end that I would play on the strong side as often as possible. Not a candidate to play in space with any sort of regularity.
BEST TRAIT - Effort
WORST TRAIT - Play Strength
RED FLAGS - None
NFL COMP - Chris Kelsay
Racking up 47.5 tackles for loss and 22 sacks from 2017-2019, Wilekes has been a highly productive defender for Michigan State. He plays with unmatched urgency and is highly competitive. While he may not have the highest ceiling, Willekes does have a high floor as a 4-3 defensive end. His modest play strength and athleticism will present challenges defeating blocks in the NFL and he’ll need to become more reliant on his technique which has room for growth. At a minimum, Willekes should be a valuable rotational end and his upside is contingent on if he can get stronger and become more nuanced.