With the 2019 NFL draft just days away, perhaps you’d like a crash course on another potential target of the Buffalo Bills. With the retirement of Kyle Williams and Sean McDermott’s love of rotating defensive lineman, the interior of the defense might be a possible area the Bills look toward the draft to improve. Jordan Phillips has expressed his desire to step in but maybe the Bills will look to add competition. Perhaps Christian Wilkins, formerly with the Clemson Tigers will wind up as part of the process.
Christian Wilkins will be entering the 2019 NFL Draft after four years on the defensive line with Clemson. Most recently playing on the interior, Wilkins was asked to play some end as well. Wilkins’s sack totals went up each year, culminating in a 5.5-sack senior year. Tackles for loss also generally increased over time, with two seasons notching over a dozen (high of 14.0). A slew of tackles and 15 passes defended round out his time at Clemson where he was a three-time All-American.
Wilkins’s work ethic on and off the field has drawn rave reviews. A team captain, Wilkins is seen as a locker room leader and role model. Earning a degree in communications in just two and a half years, Wilkins then went on to earn a master’s in athletic leadership. Wilkins’s work was recognized with the William V. Campbell Trophy.
Wilkins did not endure significant injuries with Clemson and has very unusual potential red flags. Wilkins was spotted “groping” an opponent during the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl. The incident was chalked up to on-field antics to “mess with” players on the field. Wilkins did apologize for the event and that he was “just being silly.” Wilkins also steamed up some controversy when he was filmed doing a striptease at a Clemson fundraising event.
Physical measurements and drills are mostly sub-par for Wilkins. A roughly average 20-yard shuttle drill is the highlight of his speed and agility scores. He fared better in the strength department with an above-average number of bench-press reps. Nearly perfectly average height for his position is paired with above-average weight and a bottom third wingspan. His arm length of 32 1⁄2 inches is quite short for the position (though slightly longer than Kyle Williams).
Christian Wilkins is praised for his energy on the field. In addition to his high motor, good body mechanics lead to advantages in leverage. Flexibility, agility, and balance are all frequently noted as positives. A quick first step and fast hands are also often cited as strengths.
Wilkins’s short arms are felt to be a hindrance on the field, with longer offensive lineman able to more successfully ward him off. Inconsistent play recognition leads to occasional lapses. Wilkins is similarly inconsistent against double teams. Multiple outlets suggest his high motor occasionally leads to fatigue and faltering play. Despite these potential shortcomings, Lance Zierlein’s analysis from NFL.com gives Wilkins a grade of 6.12, which is considered “should become instant starter” territory.
Christian Wilkins seems like he’d do best paired with a space-eating defensive tackle at his side, freeing him up to beat one-on-ones. For the team drafting Wilkins, his fit in the defensive line should be a consideration. For Buffalo, he could see the field next to Star Lotulelei for precisely that pairing. On obvious passing downs, Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier love having penetrating defensive lineman on the field and Wilkins could be a good fit there, as well.
For player comparisons, though Wilkins has certainly yet to earn the same esteem, Kyle Williams is a great place to start. Physically similar (Wilkins is a bit taller and heavier) down to the stigma of short arms, the list of strengths is quite similar. Leadership and work ethic draw rave reviews while on the field a quick reaction and technical proficiency form the path to success. Wilkins even has a couple rushing touchdowns.