Barry Jackson

‘He’s going to be a star.’ Ten analysts weigh in on Dolphins first-round pick Wilkins.

Reaction on the Dolphins’ selection of Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins with the 13th pick in the first round of the NFL Draft:

ESPN’s Louis Reddick: “Christian Wilkins is fantastic. Who’s going to have more scheme versatility than [Dolphins coach] Brian Flores and who is going to require your players to be very smart like Wilkins, who is one of the smartest players in this draft? It’s a perfect marriage.” But Riddick also said that “teams are going to regret passing on Dwayne Haskins.”

NFL Net’s Daniel Jeremiah: “He’s my seventh overall player in this draft. I did not think he would end up falling all the way down here. I thought there was no way this kid was going to be here. He’s dominant on the back side as a run defender. Quick feet and hands. He’s dominant on the back side as a run defender. Reminds me a lot of [six-time NFL Pro Bowler] Gerald McCoy when you study him on college tape.

“Ultra athletic. Has the range as a defensive lineman to play inside, out. He slips blocks. He’s not going to be a real overpowering player. He’s going to beat you with his quickness. As a pass rusher, he has a quick first step.”

ESPN’s Mel Kiper: “A different kind of defensive lineman who could play tackle in a 4-3 or end in a 3-4. He has been underrated on a loaded Clemson defense.”

ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit: “Anybody who has been around Christian Wilkins, he’s a guy you fall in love with as soon as you get done meeting him for five minutes. He’s going to bring intensity. He’s going to bring juice. They have him blocking on the goal line, catching passes. Not to mention he is a bona fide freak. You can move him inside, you can move him outside. He’s twitchy, he’s thick, he’s strong.”

ESPN analyst and former Dolphins vice president/football operations Mike Tannenbaum: “A force on the pass rush and run defense. His 18 tackles for loss or no gain are the second most of any defensive tackle in the draft. One of the toughest things for a QB to handle is pressure up the middle and he had 48 total pressures last year.”’s Lance Zierlein says Wilkins has the “desired combination of athleticism, production and character. He plays with low pads allowing for optimal disruption leverage in the gaps, but he needs to be paired with an attacking front as he lacks the length and strength to hold his ground as a read-and-react tackle. He’s busy and agile as a rusher, which could keep him on the field for more snaps.”

NFL Net’s Kurt Warner: “This is my favorite player in the draft. The way he plays, his athleticism, his get off, his toughness, his leadership. He won the academic Heisman this past year. He has quickness. He is so active. You talk to [coach] Dabo Swinney, he’s the heartbeat of that [Clemson] team.”

Tony Pauline: “Very explosive player, can make plays in space, can hold up in a three-man line and is not going to be a liability against the run.”

ESPN’s Booger McFarland: “He was the best defensive lineman on that Clemson team. You talk about athleticism. This young man can do something crazy. He has lateral movement, he has power, he has speed. He can make plays from tackle to tackle the way no one in this draft at his size can at over 300 pounds. He has scheme versatility. He can play in a 3-4 or 4-3, whether nose guard or defensive tackle. “

ESPN’s David Pollack: “He’s going to be a star.”


Wilkins will join Davon Godchaux, Vincent Taylor and potentially Akeem Spence in Miami’s defensive tackle rotation this coming season. Dolphins general manager Chris Grier said he also can play defensive end.... Pro Football Focus said Wilkins was one of two players to rank in the top-five in both total pressures and defensive stops in 2018, “showing he’s capable of being dominant regardless of the play call.”...

PFF rated him tied for third (with Ed Oliver) in pass rush win rate among the defensive tackles in this draft, behind only Quinnen Williams and Jerry Tillery. PFF rated him third in run defense, behind Williams and Oliver... And among “the top interior defensive linemen in the class, no one recorded a lower average depth of tackle against the run than Wilkins at 0.1 yards.”

Wilkins has a knack for tipping passes at the line; he had 10 of those in 2016... He converted fake punts in 2015 and 2016.

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