Atlanta Falcons: Forecasting the future Edition 2
Christian Wilkins DT Clemson 6′ 4″ 310lbs
Like Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea from Edition 1, Wilkins is a member of NFL.com’s “17 for ’17: College football’s most freakish athletes.” In fact, he’s at the top of the list. You might expect a natural 300-pounder to bench 225 pounds 31 times. However, for somebody that size to run a 4.8 forty-yard dash with 1.62 second 10-yard split is nearly unheard of, and so is a nine-foot broad jump. This kind of raw athleticism will have defensive line coaches and defensive coordinators drooling at the prospect of being able to mold Wilkins at the NFL level.
The true junior has been put on the watch list for the Walter Camp award. He offers some positional versatility, as he projects to a three-technique defensive tackle in the pros, but has played base defensive end in college. He’s quick off the snap and understands leverage. His coaches speak highly of him as a person as well as a football player. Like Vea, if he has a downside, it’s needing refinement with his hand usage and technique.
Where Wilkins differs from Vea is in the type of player he is. While Vea is a more of a classic run-stuffer, Wilkins is a penetrator. As such, he may duplicate a role already being performed by Grady Jarrett. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the Falcons do like to rotate their defensive linemen heavily. They would likely be better, however, if supplemented by a bigger, stouter player who could command multiple blockers and free them up to make plays.
Specifically from a Falcons perspective, the other problem with Wilkins is that he’ll likely be off the board by the time Atlanta’s first pick comes around. They should be selecting somewhere around the end of the first round (hopefully the VERY end of the first round!) and Wilkins is considered by many to be a potential top-ten pick.