Position: Interior defensive lineman
Weight: 315 pounds
School: Clemson Tigers
Combine Performance Data
40-yard dash: 5.04 seconds
Bench press: 28 reps
Vertical jump: 29.5 inches
Broad jump: 8 feet, 11 inches
20-yard shuttle: 4.55 seconds
Christian Wilkins 2019 NFL Draft Profile
It’s indisputable at this point that Clemson is now right on par with Alabama as a college football juggernaut. That’s what happens when you win two national titles in three years. At the forefront of that unprecedented success for the program was the elite play of their defensive front. Multiple players from that unit will have their name called very early in this year’s NFL Draft, including the subject of this particular scouting report: Christian Wilkins.
Wilkins was a highly sought after prospect out of high school. A consensus top-10 defensive tackle and the best player from the state of Connecticut according to 247Sports, he eventually committed to Clemson having received a personal recruiting visit from defensive coordinator Brent Venables. It didn’t take long for him to make his presence felt. Wilkins totaled two sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss as a true freshman en route to making numerous freshman All-American teams.
He took it a step further in 2016, a year which saw Clemson claim its first title under Dabo Swinney. In addition to registering 3.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss, Wilkins pressured the quarterback 20 times and set a new school record by tallying 10 pass-breakups. It led to him being named a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy while receiving first-team All-American recognition by the AFCA, FWAA, and Phil Steele.
The honors kept rolling in for Wilkins during his two years as an upperclassman. As a junior, he appeared on three more first-team All-American lists and also won the Bill Willis Trophy from the Touchdown Club of Columbus, given to the nation’s top defensive player. He finished his college career in 2018 by getting recognized not only for his on-field exploits but also for his work off it. In addition to becoming just the fifth Clemson player to collect unanimous first-team All-American honors, he won the prestigious William V. Campbell Trophy which recognizes excellence on the field, in the classroom, and in the community.
- prototypical build of a next-level interior defender;
- eye-catching initial suddenness and burst after the snap;
- boasts an impressive pull and jerk move to ward off and shed;
- a natural knee-bender who delivers forceful initial contact with optimum base leverage;
- knows how to maneuver his body into gaps and clog running lanes;
- exceptional awareness on passing downs, regularly batting down balls;
- proven winner who contributed significantly to two national championship teams;
- intelligent prospect who finished his undergraduate degree in two and a half years;
- started all four seasons at Clemson and saw high-level competition each year;
- a high character individual who’ll be a valued asset in whichever community he arrives in.
- has a tendency to rely too much on his strength, staying engaged to blocker;
- needs to have more of a plan when double-teamed;
- could add to his array of available pass-rushing moves;
- tape doesn’t show a lot of exotic blitz moves such as twists and stunts;
- instincts while defending the run could use some added honing;
- will have to adjust the physicality of his play to account for added protection given to quarterbacks in today’s NFL.
NFL Comparison: Sheldon Rankins
Teams With Need at Position: Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Rams, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles
Projection: First round
A consistent contributor during all four of his seasons at Clemson, Wilkins was a talismanic presence on arguably the most formidable defensive front in college football. He’s an incredibly athletic prospect who knows how to win the leverage battle with a unique combination of power and technique. Other favorable traits he brings to the table are his football intelligence and overall awareness as his pass breakup numbers indicate. He’ll also be a treasure in the community and has all the makings of a future Walter Payton Man of the Year Award winner.
Perhaps the biggest thing he needs to work on is becoming a more multi-dimensional pass rusher. That’ll make him a more dangerous weapon in exotic blitz packages. And he’ll probably need to exhibit better judgment with respect to laying hits on quarterbacks given how quick referees throw flags for roughing the passer nowadays. Ultimately, Wilkins looks best suited to a one-gap, three-technique role in a 4-3 defense. But there’s no doubting that he should turn heads right off the bat.