After a lengthy one-year drought, the Mid-American Conference sends another player to the NFL via the first round. It was rumored that Muhammad Wilkerson was going to be taken somewhere in the 24-30 range according to scads of mock drafts, and the Temple defensive tackle is going to be plugged right into the nose of that New York Jets' D-line.
Like Miami quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to Pittsburgh in 2004, Wilkerson is instantly headed to a good team and filling a need. This is a perfect situation.
For two years, Wilkerson caused offensive linemen, running backs, and quarterback fits. And not just in the MAC — he had highlight plays against UConn, Army, Purdue, UCLA, and Penn State. He was rewarded with a First Team All-MAC (then again, on Temple, who wasn't?) and it was a shame we didn't get to see him in more big games. The Owls didn't reach any MAC Championships and the one bowl game in his sophomore season. Still, we have what we need to know about this gentleman.
For Jets fans (and nostalgic Temple Owls fans), here's some of his highlights:
Some takeaways from this video is that even inside, the man has some ability to pursue. But you also saw him line up on the edge a little.
His numbers weren't spectacular in college but that's probably because the opposition gamed for him. Despite being doubled, he would get to the quarterback or bring someone down at the line of scrimmage. As this translates to the NFL, I don't know if people are going to double him, and I really doubt he's the type of player to break NFL double teams. However, he's a fairly fresh athlete (he played mainly in his sophomore and junior years, minimally in his true freshman year) and with an already vaunted defense, the Jets took a guy who's going to be useful right out of the gate. And since the Jets play a 3-4, that means he's going to play nose tackle.
The last MAC first-round player was NIU linebacker Larry English to the Chargers in 2009. I can't say that went swimmingly, but this one seems like a better fit.