As we’ve done in years past, we’re going to start up our Roster Countdown series of posts as we get ready for the regular season.
Background: Wilkerson might have come out of a smaller program, but he’s been anything but small for the Jets in his first two seasons. While Wilkerson’s rookie year contained some ups and downs, Wilkerson was a veritable break out in his second season with the Jets — so much so that he was ranked by Pro Football Focus as the second best 3-4 defensive end to one man, Houston’s J.J. Watt. Even if we included the league’s 4-3 defensive tackles and nose tackles, Wilkerson would have come in third behind Watt and Geno Atkins in overall grading. Wilkerson’s work against the run was stellar, only suffering slip ups against San Francisco and New England. Wilkerson tallied five sacks last season, a solid total from the position and he was one of better pass rushers at his spot.
2013 Projection: The move of Quinton Coples to rush linebacker as well as the addition of Sheldon Richardson could make this a fearsome group against the run and pass for a long time to come, provided that the defensive coaches stay solid. Since Wilkerson is already at the top of his game, there’s really no reason to doubt the projection that he stays put among the league’s best defensive linemen.