INDIANAPOLIS - By now, you've heard how deep this 2019 draft class is along the defensive line. That's definitely true.
One guy who has been consistently on the top of my mind for the Eagles at 25 has been Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins (6-3, 315). So I was eager to talk to him at the combine. I came away pleasantly impressed.
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And I'm guessing he really impressed the Eagles when he met with them on Saturday night.
Wilkins will likely be one of three Clemson defensive linemen drafted in the first round and one of around 10-13 D-linemen overall in the first round. And just because the Eagles re-signed Brandon Graham, it definitely doesn't mean you should forget about them taking a defensive lineman at No. 25. In fact, it really shouldn't change that at all.
I don't know if Wilkins will still be available when the Eagles are on the clock. If he is - or even if they wanted to trade up to get him - I really think he'd be a perfect fit in Philadelphia.
On the field
Wilkins knows his best position is as a 3-technique, which is exactly what he would be with the Eagles. They could pretty much plug-and-play him next to Fletcher Cox. I've seen plenty of folks mention his teammate Dexter Lawrence as a possibility for the Eagles, but he isn't as good of a fit. Lawrence is a bigger, run-stuffing tackle. Wilkins has the ability and athleticism to beat 1-on-1s, which is the most important thing when Cox is getting constantly double-teamed. It would also offer the Eagles a relatively cost-effective way to get a productive player next to the All-Pro Cox for the next four years.
Wilkins seems to have the right blend of pass-rushing ability in a one-gap defense to go along with enough run-stuffing ability needed as an interior lineman. While some defensive linemen put up freakish numbers on Sunday, Wilkins had a really good performance. Maybe teams will rush to take the combine warriors and let a solid, athletic player like Wilkins last longer than he should.
We all know the Eagles value versatility and Wilkins provides it. While he's best suited as an interior rusher, he did play some end in college and has the ability to move up and down the line.
Locker room guy
While the on-field tests garner much of the attention, interviews with teams are even more important. What the fun-loving Wilkins said he wanted teams to know about him was really eye-opening:
"I just really want a team to know if they get me they're investing in something bigger than football," he said. "They're investing in so much more. The ability I have to not only dominate on the field, but to also just improve culture, whether it's good, bad, ugly, indifferent. I feel like, ultimately, I'm the guy you want in your locker room, I'm the guy you want on your team and you want on the field with you. I'm someone who is extremely committed to my craft and impacting others."
Wilkins definitely has a bubbly personality and it would be nice to see him go to a team in which that personality isn't stifled.
There's this outdated thought process that players with other interests might not be as committed to football. That's ridiculous and the Eagles certainly don't seem to care. Just look at what guys like Malcolm Jenkins and Chris Long have done off the field and how well they've still played on it.
Wilkins got his bachelor's degree in 2½ years and then added a master's degree before he left Clemson. Someone joked with him that he must have a lot of free time now that he's out of school; he said most of his time is still going to football, but he's picked up reading more to keep his mind sharp. There's really not anything to dislike about him. It's hard to find a player who would fit in better in Philadelphia.
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