Miami Dolphins

QB can wait: Dolphins take stud DT Christian Wilkins with 13th overall pick

What Dolphins 1st round pick Christian Wilkins likes about Miami; no income tax, Marino and replacing Dwyane Wade

What Miami Dolphins first round pick Christian Wilkins likes about Miami; no income tax, Marino and replacing Dwyane Wade, April 25, 2019.
Up Next
What Miami Dolphins first round pick Christian Wilkins likes about Miami; no income tax, Marino and replacing Dwyane Wade, April 25, 2019.

Quarterback?

That’ll come in 2020.

Or perhaps on Friday.

But with their first-round pick, the Dolphins took Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, a major building block as they revamp their front seven and great value at 13.

“This is the best decision you ever made,” Wilkins told the Dolphins when they told him the news.

It better be.

The Dolphins took a trench player over a potential franchise quarterback.

Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins was on the board when Miami picked.

But Grier is playing the long game, and was not imprisoned by the moment Thursday.

He knows that next year’s draft is expected to be quarterback rich. Tua Tagovailoa. Justin Herbert. Jake Fromm.

On Thursday, Grier essentially bet that the Dolphins can land a better one then than Haskins now.

That’s just fine with Wilkins, who screamed in joy and shoulder-bumped NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on the stage after the pick was official.

Wilkins bet on himself and decided to return for his senior year at Clemson. On Thursday, he won that bet.

The 6-foot-3, 315-pound run-stopper was a first-team AP All-American after tallying 57 tackles, 15 for loss, six sacks and two forced fumbles for the national-champion Tigers.

Miami Dolphins GM Chris Grier why Clemson's DT Christian Wilkins was their 13th overall pick in 2019 NFL Draft, April 25, 2019.

He is also a class act off the field, becoming the first Clemson football player to earn his degree in two and a half years. He’s “23 with a master’s degree,” Wilkins reminded reporters.

He won the William V. Campbell Trophy, the “Academic Heisman,” for his work in the classroom and in the community.

“I’m the guy you want in your organization to make it a better place,” Willkins said. “... I feel like I was put on this earth to make people around me better.”

Wilkins’ sparkling character is even more impressive given his tragic adolescence.

His grandfather Eurie Stamps, who raised him, died during when a SWAT team rifle accidentally discharged during a raid of his apartment. Wilkins was just 16. Cops were looking for Stamps’ step-son and two friends accused of selling drugs from the apartment.

Wilkins wore No. 42 in college in honor of Stamps, who passed along self-confidence and comfort in his own skin to his grandson.

“[He] meant everything to me,” he said. ”... He was so special to me. I’m not going to be able to wear 42 anymore, but I’m going to find a way to honor him. The people of Miami are going to see who my grandfather is through me.”

What Miami Dolphins first round pick Christian Wilkins likes about Miami; no income tax, Marino and replacing Dwyane Wade, April 25, 2019.

Wilkins was available only because of a predictably unpredictable start to the draft.

Quarterbacks went early, and it’s not entirely clear how much interest the Dolphins would have had in them anyway.

Kyler Murray would have been nice, but he was a pipe dream. The Cardinals took him first overall, which logic suggests would make Josh Rosen available to the Dolphins or any other team interested in trading for him.

Grier declined comment when asked about the Dolphins’ interest.

“We’re investigating all avenues,” Grier added. “We’re looking at all options.”

Will a deal get done? NFL Network reported that the Cardinals will accept nothing less than a top-16 pick. Predictably, no team with a top-16 pick traded for him, although the Dolphins could make a deal if the price drops.

The draft’s real game-changer came at pick 6. That’s when the Giants took Duke quarterback Daniel Jones — seen by most as a huge reach.

Jones’ arm strength is not great, and New York might have been able to nab him with their second first-rounder, 17th overall.

That pick pushed better players down the board.

For a while, the impossible — Ed Oliver falling to the Dolphins — seemed possible. But that dream died when the Bills took the stud defensive tackle at 9.

Another object of Dolphins curiosity, Michigan linebacker Devin Bush, was the next off the board, taken by the Steelers, who traded up from 20 to 10 to take him.

Haskins, meanwhile, kept falling.

The Bengals seemed a possible landing spot, but they look Alabama offensive lineman Jonah Williams at 11.

And when the Packers took Michigan defensive end Rashan Gary at 12, the Dolphins were on the clock.

But they stuck to their board, and their long-term plan, taking Wilkins over Haskins, who went 15th to the Redskins.

“Dwayne’s a great player too,” Wilkins said. “I’m happy he got picked up, went to the team he needed to.

“I’m definitely excited to be part of the Dolphins franchise and get this thing going.”

Related stories from Miami Herald

  Comments