Back to back spots in my Top 32 go to Clemson defensive linemen. This also means three out of the top 15 spots in my Top 32 come from the same line. I’ll be honest, it was hard for me to pick between Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins because they’re very similar players. Ultimately, Lawrence’s size and quick feet are what put him ahead of Wilkins. That’s not meant to be a knock on Wilkins’ game as he is a great player in his own right.
Christian Wilkins is a physical player, whose upper body strength is impressive and is hard to move. His physicality and strength allow him to get extension on offensive linemen and consistently play in the other team’s backfield. At times, it looks like he is virtually unstoppable against the run and the only way to beat him is to hope Clemson called a stunt that puts Wilkins out of position. In pass rush, Wilkins is physical at the point of attack and shows the ability to get skinny and slip by offensive linemen.
However, he doesn’t have the speed to consistently close and finish the play with a sack. Wilkins also struggles with his stunts. When running stunts, his first two steps are too lateral and at times backwards. He needs to gain ground on his first two steps in order to be more effective. I see him as more of a run stopper in the NFL, but a damn good one.
Fit with the Raiders
Similar to Lawrence, I don’t think Wilkins is much of a fit with the Raiders. The Raiders need pass rushers more than they need run stoppers and Wilkins does not fit that mold. Best-case scenario for the Raiders is that Wilkins is not drafted within the division because he can alter an offense’s game plan, especially against the run.
Again it was hard for me to decide between Lawrence and Wilkins because they are so similar, so it should come as no surprise that the two teams I think are most likely to draft Lawrence are the same for Wilkins. If the Dolphins want a defensive tackle, they could have their choice of Lawrence or Wilkins and the Falcons could snag the one that’s left over. Kenny Clark is entering a contract year and the Packers could be looking for his replacement a year early.