Wilkins explains what makes a Clemson guy different from others in the NFL Draft
Christian Wilkins says getting a Clemson guy is just different than anyone else an NFL team can select.
Wilkins, along with his former defensive line teammates Clelin Ferrell and Dexter Lawrence, are expected to be chosen in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, which starts on April 25 in Nashville, Tenn. In all, at least 10 former Tigers are expected to be drafted on the days of April 25-27, which would tie a Clemson record set from the 1983’s draft.
“You get guys who are talented on the field and who are going to be able to contribute and do their thing on the field, but also you are getting great people and people who can improve your organization and make those around them better,” Wilkins said in a podcast to ESPN’s Adam Schefter recently. “You are getting people who want to work hard and want to become pros and be professional about what they do.
“Clemson guys are just different. We understand the big picture. We are all about team and we are putting the team before ourselves.”
Putting the team before their own needs is one of the reasons why Clemson was able to win its second national championship in three years this past season. Wilkins, along with Ferrell, Austin Bryant and offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt, decided to return to Tigertown for one more year, though they had an opportunity to go pro and be drafted in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Along with Lawrence, who was just a junior, Wilkins, Ferrell and Bryant teamed up to make up one of the more dominating defensive fronts in the history of college football. Hyatt’s return solidified a much-improved offensive line, while quarterback Trevor Lawrence continued to improve in his freshman season.
Wilkins credits head coach Dabo Swinney and the culture he established at Clemson long before they arrived for why the 2018 Tigers were so selfless.
“It really started from the culture that was already established at Clemson,” the defensive tackle said. “I feel like you don’t go to Clemson unless you want to be a part of that culture and believe in a lot of things that are being preached and taught. You are not going to go there if you don’t want to be a part of that.
“I feel like guys buy in and then just take it and run with it. We try to improve it and take it to another level.”
Which they did, especially Wilkins, who became Clemson’s first three-time First-Team All-American, while also earning unanimous All-American honors this past year, just the fifth Tiger in history to do so. Wilkins also won the Campbell Trophy, which is given to the top scholar athlete in college football.
Wilkins is expected to be drafted somewhere in top 20 of the first round on April 25.