Chargers Draft

NFL Draft: Should Chargers pounce on Clemson’s Christian Wilkins?

SANTA CLARA, CA - JANUARY 07: Christian Wilkins #42 of the Clemson Tigers celebrates with the trophy after his teams 44-16 win over the Alabama Crimson Tide in the CFP National Championship presented by AT&T at Levi's Stadium on January 7, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - JANUARY 07: Christian Wilkins #42 of the Clemson Tigers celebrates with the trophy after his teams 44-16 win over the Alabama Crimson Tide in the CFP National Championship presented by AT&T at Levi's Stadium on January 7, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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The Los Angeles Chargers interior defensive line will need significant upgrades this offseason and the team should have a member of the reigning national champions on their draft radar. 

If the Chargers want to strengthen up a soon-to-be fragile interior defensive line, general manager Tom Telesco may want to draft a player with tiger-like aggression.

Fresh off winning the CFP National Championship, defensive lineman Christian Wilkins is emerging as a potential fit for the Bolts’  front seven. The former Clemson Tiger was a key contributor to their championship season, as he recorded 5.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss in his senior campaign.

In his four years in the state of South Carolina, Wilkins averaged 48 combined tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and four sacks each season.

Not only does he have an engaging background story, but the 6-foot-4, 300-pound interior lineman also has the ideal build for the defensive tackle position. Wilkins also packs a versatile skillset the Chargers’ defense should be craving, as he is a quality pass rusher and run stopper. Joe Marino of The Draft Network said the longtime Tiger is tenacious in his efforts to contain the run.

“As a run defender, Wilkins has modest power at the point of attack but does well to use his hands to keep his pads clean and stay on the attack. In terms of stacking blockers at the line of scrimmage and disengaging, that simply isn’t how Wilkins finds success. He excels attacking gaps and moving around to create opportunities to penetrate.”

Marino added that Wilkins creates consistent pressure as a pass rusher by using his solid burst, active hands, urgency, and flexibility.

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Recent mock drafts from NFL Draft pundits suggest Wilkins might be the right selection for the Chargers. Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports pegs the 23-year-old as the Bolts’ first-round draft choice at 28th overall in his most recent mock draft. The same goes with Will Brinson of CBS Sports in his latest draft write-up.

The Bolts will most likely be in search of some new defensive tackles once the March 13 free-agent signing window opens. The Chargers have already declined the option of Corey Liuget, which brings uncertainty to his future with the team. Interior defensive lineman Brandon Mebane, Damion Square and Darius Phillon are also free agents.

There is no guarantee any of the aforementioned players return to Carson, California once training camp rolls around. Whether or not how many will stay with the Chargers, there is a need for fresh blood at the position and Wilkins could fill that void.

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