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Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

Dave Syvertsen, Ourlads' Senior Draft Analyst
09/18/2020 1:48PM ET

One of the bigger surprises of the early declaration process last spring was Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins opting to return for his senior season.  The cause for surprise is two-fold.  One, Wilkins had a chance at being a first-round pick and two; the defensive tackle group is going to be star-studded next spring.  One can certainly make the argument it will be the strongest position group in the entire class when it comes to first and second round talent.  I don’t see Wilkins as the top defensive tackle, but I do see an interesting skill set that specific schemes will value very highly. 

Wilkins has been a stud since he stepped foot on the Clemson campus.  He was a Freshman All-America in 2015 with an 84 tackle-12 pressure season.  In 2016 he went to another level, as he was named a Nagurski Award finalist and found himself on the first-team All- America roster.  He totaled 20 pressures, 13.5 tackles for loss, and a school record for defensive linemen with 10 pass deflections.  Last fall in his junior season, Wilkins was named a second-team All America.  His production took a slight turn downward but that had more to do with the abundance of talent along side of him than anything. 

Wilkins’ game revolves around versatility and hustle.  He has experience in a multi-front scheme that has had him line up all over the trenches.  The skill set allows him to do so with ease.  He fires out of his stance low and strong, constantly putting the blocker on his heels.  For a player who weighs in at over 300 pounds, his reaction speed is off the charts, hence why he has had so much more tackle production than the typical defensive tackle prospect.  While he does have the leverage and lower body power to hold ground, Wilkins is at his best in an attacking role that will allow him to pursue the ball.  A scheme that likes to move their defensive tackles around based on matchups and situations could very well view Wilkins as a top 10 overall player.