Listed Height- 6’3″
Listed Weight- 310 Pounds
Christian will be a junior this year at Clemson, the defending national champions. He was very highly touted out of high school, gathering offers from around the country but he chose Clemson. Played varsity basketball all 4 years in high school. His freshmen year he played in all 15 games as a defensive tackle and contributed admirably in his role with the stacked Clemson D-Line. He finished 2015 with 33 tackles, 4.5 TFL, and 2 sacks. As a sophomore in 2016 he started all 15 games, but surprisingly enough, he was playing on the edge either as a DE or an OLB. He finished his 2016 season with 48 tackles, 13 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 2 FRs and 9 PBUs. This earned him recognition as one of the best defensive linemen in the country.
At a listed 6’3″ 310 pounds, Wilkins is a very unique athlete. If you watch the Clemson celebration of the national championship, you can catch Wilkins doing a full split twice. He has extremely nimble feet for his size that allows him to squeeze his way through gaps in opponents O-Lines. It also helps to set the edge, its fun watching this guy chase a play down. There’s a play against Florida State where he was rushing the passer and he pulls an amazing spin move to get in on the sack to basically win the game (7:50 min mark in the second video) . I’m not sure he’s a freak athlete as far as 40 time or vertical but he’s a freak with how well he moves around. He’s able to get low underneath linemen consistently, winning the leverage battle and his size makes him hard to stay in front of on his pass rush. It’s a little surprising he doesn’t have more sacks because he’s consistently beating the tackle outside. Another attribute to his athleticism is that he has been used as a personal protector on special teams, a fake-punt weapon and even some offense . He has an impressive 31 yard catch on a fake punt and a short TD reception on his resume. The guy really doesn’t look that strong but he’s throwing blockers around all game. Does really well with his body positioning to get underneath O-Linemen and uses his extension to toss them aside. He’s too strong for tackles and too nimble for interior OL. He has impressive change of direction for his size, this allows him to maneuver around blockers, he does really well with pullers. Fantastic balance helps to keep himself clean when teams attempt to chop him down. You have to at least try to get your hands on him because he’ll shoot a gap and ruin a run play. On outside rushes he’ll use a nice dip and rip move to keep himself free, very impressive to see his flexibility turning the corner at 310 pounds. Does a nice job of getting his hands in the passing lanes inside, led to 9 PBUs. He plays with a ton of passion and you never see him take plays off. When he’s chasing a play from behind, he’ll swing his arm like a sledge hammer to attack the football, this will lead to some forced fumbles in the future. If he’s blocked one on one he does well of penetrating the play in short yardage situations. As a tackler, he’s typically pretty good, he’s blown up a few RB inside on dive plays.
Weaknesses/Concerns/Room for Improvement
A big question could be, which position is he going to play? As he lined up inside and outside, he looked great at both. Position flex, it’s a good problem to have but a question mark. I worry a little bit about his lower body strength. He can get driven out of the play by double teams pretty handily inside. Doesn’t have the base to hold the point of attack in those situations. He could add some upper body strength as well, allowing him to shed blocks even easier. If he’s going to play outside, a question would be if he has enough explosion to get the edge. I’d like to see him in a role similar to JJ Watt and similar to his own now at Clemson. When he’s going after the QB, I’d like to see him tackle through the QB, too often you see him grabbing the ankles. Could lead to more sacks and more FFs. Don’t think he has great length and this could potentially limit his skill set. He doesn’t have a very skilled set of hand work right now. It’s mostly just getting good extension to get a blocker off-balanced then chasing the play. Would like to see him add a swipe move (Aaron Donald specialty), a swim move. Add something more to your arsenal and he could be even more dynamic. If teams are looking at him as a 3 tech, does he have elite explosion to burst through the gaps inside? He could probably be effective regardless but it’s a question. Clemson is looking like they’ll still be a really good defense this year but its unlikely that they’ll be in national title contention. Will Wilkins come with the same intensity every play?
Overall, Christian Wilkins is an extremely talented D-Linemen prospect. Easily one of the most athletic D-Linemen I have seen. He doesn’t have amazing explosive speed but the flexibility and nimbleness of his feet is quite amazing. I wouldn’t be surprised if he found his way into the top ten of the 2018 draft. I see absolutely no way he falls out of the first round as we look at him right now. Clemson continues to churn out defensive line talent and Wilkins is the next one.
Personally, I would prefer him in a 3-4 defense as a 5 tech. He gives you a lot of athleticism head up on tackles, to shoot the gap and disrupt plays. For the Cowboys, we run a 4-3, I would look at him as a 3 tech. Which is a position filled by Maliek Collins, our talented 2016 rookie. A combination of the two could absolutely exist though. The twist stunts with those two would be really fun to watch. Wilkins coming up field causing havoc for interior linemen would be fun. We would be lucky to acquire him.
Potential Top Ten
First Round ?
Highlights/2016 Game vs Florida State
Warning: You may wish to turn down or turn off the volume for the first video, as the lyrics are not suitable for everyone! Tape is good …..
If there’s someone else you want me to do a report on, let me know and I’ll definitely check him out. You can either leave a comment on this report or you can tweet me @dexterharris28 on twitter.