2011 stats: 16 games started, 49 tackles(35 solo), 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 2 passes defensed, 9 stuffs.
2011 Season Review: Wilkerson had huge shoes to fill when the Jets didn’t retain Shaun Ellis and he showed quite a bit of promise, starting all sixteen games and outperforming considerably what Ellis had done with the Patriots. In just his second game as a pro Wilkerson made his presence felt immediately, sacking Jaguars quarterback Josh McCown in the end zone for a safety on just Jacksonville’s third offensive snap. It would be more as a run defender though where Wilkerson was most effective, showing a knack to break up plays behind the line of scrimmage more so than any other defender on the Jets’ roster or even the entire NFL for that matter. Wilkerson’s 9 stuffs put him in the top five amongst all defenders in the NFL and number one amongst rookies and Jets defenders. Additionally, Wilkerson was amongst the top five 3-4 defensive ends in Pro Football Focus’ stop percentage metric which measures the amount of run plays a defender makes a “successful stop”. He wasn’t the Trevor Pryce clone Rex Ryan touted him to be as a rookie however, given that Wilkerson only brought the quarterback down 3 times all season and he wasn’t one to create pressure with any type of consistency. Ultimately Wilkerson’s rookie season flew a little under the radar league-wide but was very promising.
2012 Outlook: If he can avoid the sophomore slump and build off his first season, Wilkerson has the potential to be one of the best defenders on the team. As a rookie he was entrusted with quite a bit, playing more snaps than any other defensive end on the roster and being asked to immediately replace a consistently productive player and fan favorite in Shaun Ellis. There’s a lot to be said in living up to those expectations, and it’s fair to expect even more of him in his sophomore campaign. The big step up Wilkerson needs to take is as a pass rusher and it shouldn’t surprise anybody to see him take that step given his natural talents and a year to develop a repertoire of pass rush moves. When September rolls around, Wilkerson should look a little more like the player he replaced in his prime – stout against the run but also packing some punch getting after the quarterback.