Muhammad Wilkerson vs Penn State

I was recently asked about Temple defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson. I’ve not had access to Owls tape this year, so haven’t previously been able to comment. He’s declared as a junior and reportedly got a grade in rounds 2/3. That’s the same grade that Janoris Jenkins received – who would (in my opinion) have been a sure-fire first round lock. It’s also the same grade given to Jake Locker last year and probably Justin Blackmon too – considering he is staying at Oklahoma State.

I managed to find some footage of Wilkerson against Penn State from September last year (see below). It’s only one sample but doesn’t restrict you to the ‘best bits’. What interests me in this montage is seeing Wilkerson like up at end. He’s 6-5 and 305lbs and being asked to rush off the edge and also seal it against the run. Given his size, it’s possible he could be an option at the Red Bryant 5-tech position.

Of course – Bryant did a fantastic job and was arguably the teams defensive MVP before a season ending injury. However, he has picked up knocks in his career and perhaps adding depth at the position (especially when these guys can also kick inside if needed) may be of benefit to the Seahawks.

Certainly to me at least it appears that 5-tech and the inside 1&3 technique positions carry most importance in Seattle’s scheme as opposed to the LEO rush position. Chris Clemons and Raheem Brock have enjoyed production despite their relative ‘plug in and play’ situation. The important characteristic of the¬†LEO appears to be quickness and the ability to exploit one-on-one blocking – which is more frequently afforded when the other three lineman can penetrate and carry blockers.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the scheme allows the Seahawks to find consistent production from their LEO rushers, which maybe decreases the likelihood the team will spend a high draft pick on the position. Of course, that would probably change if a Demarcus Ware clone was sitting on the board.

Wilkerson has proved he can get to the passer with his production. In 2010 he had an impressive ten sacks and he has 16-total the last two years. Bryant’s key strength is working against the run – and he’s not built for rushing at around 330lbs. The Temple prospects’ size won’t necessarily negate any impact against the run, but he also flashes in the clips below that ability to get into the backfield and be a disruptive force.

It’s important to note the level of competition. It’s good to see how he fairs against Penn State’s line, but his sacks came against Buffalo (3), Kent State (3), Central Michigan (2), Army (1) and Miami Ohio (1). Clearly the competition level has to be taken into account¬†– Nick Fairley’s twelve sacks came against top-level opposition. The same can’t be said for Wilkerson.

With more prospects opting not to declare, we’re going to see others rising. I’m tentative to grade Wilkerson as a potential round one pick based on the evidence of one game but I do believe it’s a position the Seahawks will consider adding depth to. Take a look at the footage yourself and let me know what you think.


  1. Charlie

    I have two questions rob, 1) If we were to pick a leo type position later, for depth, who do you like most that would be available in the 4th round or later? I know you have mentioned brooks reed, but are there better late prospects. 2) What do you think of cameron morrah this year?

    • Rob

      Jeremy Beal has some value, his stock is falling into that R3-4 range after his production fell off at the end of the year. Cliff Matthews is one to keep an eye on as a LEO and you can throw Rick Elmore into the equation too. Jabal Sheard is a R2 option and Dontay Moch maybe later on.

      Morrah’s had a good year. He’s dropped some passes he should’ve had, but he’s athletic and certainly offers something for the passing game. I’m really interested to see how Anthony McCoy comes along if he sticks around. He had legitimate first round talent and fell due to off the field issues. He’s very talented. He and Morrah could be great value.

      • Carl

        I also like Cliff Matthews as a LEO candidate, kind of a steal in the 5th round.

      • T-Town

        Morrah has been fantastic. He has impressed me more than anyone on this team in the 2nd half of the season. Its a shame McCoy got hurt as I was looking forward to seeing what he could do. Maybe next year.

        The DE position concerns me though. I will admit that Brock has been clutch and has stepped up nicely. His strip was awesome but it did come against Julius Jones who isnt exactly a great ball carrier. I expect getting Red Bryant back next year to help as he was a monster early on. I am however not impressed by Clemons at LEO. He isnt bad but he is by no means an elite pass rusher. 7 of his 11 sacks came against the average to inferior lines of our NFC west rivals. The Saints had absolutely NO problem blocking him at all saturday. He was totally shutdown and was a non factor. Maybe he isnt fast enough or his technique is lacking. Im not quite sure what it is so perhaps you could bring up another LEO discussion centering on Clemons and who might be a nice fit at LEO in the draft in more detail.

        As great as the win was on Saturday it was very obvious that our DL just couldnt get any pressure on Brees. With a secondary like the Hawks have we really need to get pressure on the QB unless the Hawks expect to put up 40+ every week to win.

        • Blake

          I dunno man he was top 10 in hurries. I know we play in the lowsy NFC West, but then do you just shade all of our stats by saying oh its only against the NFC West? The thing that both he AND Brock have had monster statistical years in what Rob ammounted to a plug and play situation is incredible. Considering they are doing this with one of the worst corner tandems in the league is unheard of. Nobody can get pressure on Brees he’s too fast with the ball.

          • Rob

            Both Clemons and Brock had career years – and we’re talking substantially better here not just a sack or two. Clemons for me has been a sensation and Brock a perfect compliment. I think you’ll struggle to find many better FA pickups in the NFC this year. A large reason, as I argued in the article, is the nature of the position IMO. It’s designed to provide production. You put a lighter DE with speed on the edge in space and try to get him in a 1vs1 situation. It’ll work even better in the future if the interior DL can find consistant pressure and take blocks. It helps even more if you can plug in a 5-tech that can get to the QB. Losing Bryant was big and Mebane and Cole have both been absent. If you can add quality to the rotation and stay healthy, I’m sure the pressure will be ten times greater.

  2. plyka

    I didn’t see anything special. He has very nice size, he looks like he can carry even more weight. But the problem i have with him is that he lacks any burst off the line. I don’t see the quickness of the snap. More importantly, I don’t see much penetration. And to cap it off, he doesn’t get off blocks very well.

    Assuming his competition is going to be much better at the next level, I don’t see the “it” factor.

    • Blake

      Who are you talking about? Cliff Mathews? Whats this “it” factor for a rotational defensive end?
      A few more names to add to the pot: Kentrell Locket, Kenny Rowe (a little light but no smaller than Dex Davis), Steven Friday, and Eddie Jones. Friday is my favorite out of these guys. Winterswyk also intrigues me. He’s not much of a speed rusher, but I see him using a lot of crafty push-pull moves and HUGE clubs to the side of the head. Pretty versatile as well. If Bradley ever uses Fire Zones, he doesn’t cover a lot of ground, but he is generally well placed in his zones.
      Why isn’t Michael Floyd a higher rated prospect? Generally 5 star recruits who get 1000 yards end up being high draft picks.

      • Charlie

        plyka is talking about wilkerson im pretty sure

        • Blake

          Aha thank you. My bad. Still wtf is the “it” factor for a defensive end? Is it his ability to lead a 4th quarter drive or his locker room presence?

          • Charlie

            ha im not exactly sure…

          • plyka

            I guess that if I have to explain it to you, you don’t have enough of “it” to understand. And why the heck would I be talking of Matthews? Did I reply to your post?

  3. Frank

    Matthews is awesome if he hangs that late. I liked Wilkerson, would like to see more variety in his moves though. Wilkerson seams to have good awareness when RB tried to crack back. He looks like a great fit for a five tech, thanks for the clip Rob.

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