Jaguars path to the draft | The case for Christian Wilkins at No. 7

Could Clemson DT be eventual successor to Marcell Dareus?

By Justin Barney - Sports Editor
Getty Images

Christian Wilkins of the Clemson Tigers runs the ball against the Pittsburgh Panthers in the second quarter of the ACC championship. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - We’ve covered quite a bit of ground for the Jaguars as the NFL draft approaches. 

Today takes us back to the defensive line and the possibility that the Jaguars go with an interior tackle with the No. 7 selection in this week’s draft. 

Clemson product Christian Wilkins was pegged as a potential top-five pick early in his career with the Tigers. While that status eventually faded, Wilkins’ production continued, despite being surrounded by more heralded NFL prospects. He was a first-team All-American as a senior and proved versatile throughout his career, playing three seasons at tackle and one, his sophomore year, as a defensive end.

His sack statistics were solid, 16 in his career, but Wilkins (6-3, 315 pounds) was more of a disruptor than a player who was going to rack up double-digit sack seasons. 

How would Wilkins fit with the Jaguars?

As we mentioned during our Path to the Draft segment on Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver (who is a completely different type of player than Wilkins), defensive line was an area the required the least amount of touch up in 2019. 

Jacksonville spent a low first-round pick on defensive tackle Taven Bryan last year, and he was largely underwhelming as a rookie. That pick was more of a draft and develop, with an eye on the future along that unit. Cap space and age will dictate that the defensive line as a whole will look much different so soon as 2020.

Bryan is more of a natural inside player, as is Marcell Dareus. Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue are edge rushers. Wilkins is a similar body to that of Dareus (6-3, 331) and would likely be solid, like Dareus, against the run.

The positive on a Wilkins pick would be the opportunity to plug him in to Dareus’ spot in 2020. Dareus has a cap hit of nearly $23 million next year. 

Unlike Oliver, a game-changer with upsized pass rushing ability, Wilkins’ ceiling doesn’t project as high. He’d be a stretch for the Jaguars at No. 7, but a possibility should they move down. Pro Football Focus rates Wilkins as the No. 5 overall defensive interior player, and No. 25 overall player available. 

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