Muhammad Wilkerson is a long, athletic defensive lineman who has the versatility to play multiple positions on the defensive front. He has produced equally well as a 3-technique in a standard 4-3, and as a 5-technique when Temple switched to a 3-4 in 2010. Wilkerson’s ability to rush the passer (16.5 sacks the past two seasons) as well as make plays against the run (131 tackles in two years) has him rising up draft boards in recent months. His versatility will be key in the NFL, but his best fit seems to be at the 5-technique position due to his length, ability to penetrate and cause disruption, as well as consistently put pressure on the quarterback. Look for Wilkerson to be taken somewhere in the middle to late first round.
Wilkerson has great lateral movement and makes a ton of plays sliding down the line and bringing the runner down. He is quick to locate the ball and doesn’t waste time reacting to the play. He shows a nice ability to ride a block and then disengage when the time comes to make the play. He plays very light on his feet and shows great agility for his size. The biggest problem for Wilkerson comes when he tries to anchor and stand his ground. He plays too upright and loses leverage to the offensive player too easily. He doesn’t have elite speed to run plays down from behind. Wilkerson shows a great motor on the field and doesn’t give up on plays. He has above average athleticism.
Wilkerson lays claim as one of the better pass rushers at defensive tackle in this class. He has fluid hips which he uses to turn and slip through gaps with ease. He displays a nice swim move and has the quickness to beat defenders on the edge. He is crafty when working on the inside and uses a nice array of moves and a tireless effort to work his way to the quarterback. To be effective and make the jump in competition from the MAC to the NFL however, Wilkerson will need to improve on a few key factors. He tends not to play as strong as his size would indicate he is. Instead of being aggressive and attacking the lineman, he tends to feel his way around and dance a little bit before making his move. He is not particularly explosive off the snap or dominant at the point of attack. Lastly, it would be nice to see Wilkerson become more physical with his hands and use his power to gain leverage.
Wilkerson doesn’t have a ton of experience (just 2 years as a starter), so there is definitely room for improvement in this area. He can be late to recognize misdirection plays, but is quick to react once he realizes where a play is going. Wilkerson is not an overly instinctual player, so he will need to work hard in the film room to be able to recognize offenses better. But he has such great character and a top-notch work ethic that leads me to believe this will not be a problem.
Wilkerson can be inconsistent with his use of hands, which will improve over time. He displays an extremely effective swim move with great technique. He stacks block well and shows a good ability to shed defender with his hands. When engaged with a blocker at the point of attack, he needs to be more violent with his hands, chopping or ripping, using his strength and size to his advantage. He does an ok job extending his arms and not allowing defenders to get into his body.
What Wilkerson will mainly have to prove at the next level is that his numbers are not inflated due to the relatively low level of competition he faced in the MAC. I don’t think this will be a problem. He has the type of size, versatility and ability to be successful at any level, as long as he continues to learn and grow as a player and by all indications he will. Once he learns to use his length to his advantage, he could become a dominant pro player. He was also a highly recruited basketball player and played tight end in high school, proving his overall athleticism. I wouldn’t be shocked if Wilkerson makes a big leap on draft day.
2010: Played and started in all 12 games.
2009: Played and started in all 13 games.
2008: Played in 11 games.
Wilkerson is interested in business administration.
Awards & Honors
2010: 1st team All-MAC. Temple’s Defensive MVP. 2010 Outland Trophy Watch List.
2009: 1st team All-MAC.
Prospect Video Clips
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