NFL Draft Spotlight: Christian Wilkins

Starting off his career with a bouncy chest bump to the awkward, middle aged Goodell, the larger-than-life personality of Christian Wilkins, certainly made a splash for his NFL debut. The Clemson defensive tackle was drafted #13 overall to the Miami Dolphins. With quick hands and feet and thriving on the backside, he is a stellar choice for the Dolphins franchise defensively, but also has a booming personality that wakes the room up. Wilkins also has the intellect to back up his rapid fie jokes and personality. He won the Academic Heisman this year, completed his undergraduate degree in two and half years and then went on to get a masters with his time left in Clemson, “It sounds like a drake lyric” Wilkins chuckles about his educational history “23 and with a master’s degree, yea I like that!” Besides his brain capacity, he is also a defensive dream, at 6’3 and 315 pounds. “He was at the top of our list in many ways,” Dolphins General Manager Chris Grier said, “We love the athletic ability, intelligence and charisma we see in Wilkins, he checks a lot of boxes for our team.” Wilkins has huge a charisma that grabs you through the screen, and won’t let go until he lets out the last syllable of his most recent punchline. When Wilkins was first asked about his thoughts on Miami, he gleamed with delight and a twinkle of mischief in his eye before replying “Hey! No income taxes!”

For someone who is so optimistic and confident in himself, Wilkins carries a heavy past that pushes him every day. “I do this all for my grandfather, he’s my ultimate role model day in and day out” Wilkins said. Eurie Stamps Sr was Wilkin’s grandfather, who was tragically killed when a SWAT team officer accidentally discharged during a raid in Stamps’ apartment in 2011. Stamps never got to see what his beloved grandson grew into, but Wilkins is determined to honour him the best way he can. Wilkins wears #42 on his jersey to commemorate the year his grandfather was born. “People will know who my grandfather was through me.” Wilkins said “We were always compared to each other, with a big personality that’s larger than life, I know he’s watching somewhere and I’m so lucky to live out this life for him.”

The Miami Dolphins had many holes to fill in their franchise walking into the draft tonight before they can consider themselves a competitor in the AFC and having a chance at the playoffs. A glaring issue within the Dolphins franchise is not having a steady or quality quarter back to lead the team. However, where the Dolphins sat draft wise (#13) and in the depth of the quarterbacks this year, it was highly unlikely Miami would be taking a quarterback this year. Even when top quarterback prospect Dwayne Haskin was still available at the Dolphins pick, they decided to take a more reliable choice that could stitch up their defensive holes. The Dolphins have a plethora of rebuilding to do before they become a competitive team in the league that can have a playoff run. Where the Dolphins lacked talent this year, the city of Miami will also soon be lacking as well, as the city is losing their spotlight player Dwyane Wade as he heads into retirement at the ends of this season. However, when one door closes another opens, as the Dolphins newest defensive tackle is excited for the possible role he can fill “This city just lost their hero D Wade, so there’s a spot for someone new in that spot, and I’m hoping it can be me.”

The Miami Dolphins finished 2nd in the AFC last season, with a 7-9 record, but did not qualify for the playoffs in the 2018-2019 season. There have been many issues with the Dolphins, but many of them seem to be blamed on poor play-making by starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill unreliability as a passer. Although the Dolphins could not add a quarterback in this round of the draft, adding a defensive tackle to the team still strengthens the gaping holes that exist for the Dolphins. After Miami released Ndamukong Suh in 2017 to open up space in the salary cap, they have struggled defensively without a solid big man on defense. However, Wilkins believes that a turnaround in the franchise is around coming at the Dolphins, and fast, “This decision tonight was the best one the Dolphins could have ever made.”

Photo Credit: Grant Halverson/Getty Images


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