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Draft prospect to watch: Muhammad Wilkerson

Muhammad Wilkerson Pic

Last Friday, we discussed Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith’s emergence as a likely riser at the February 24-March 1 Scouting Combine. This Friday, we look at Temple defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson.

Listed at 6-foot-5, 305 pounds, Wilkerson didn’t generate a ton of buzz playing in the Mid-American Conference. He was only a three-star high school recruit, and spent last season as a second-year starter for an Owls team that went 8-4 and didn’t go to a bowl.

So when Wilkerson’s name showed up on the NFL’s list of underclassmen declaring for the draft, the most common reaction probably was, “Who?”

Three weeks later, Wilkerson is emerging as a near-consensus first-round prospect.

CBS Sports’ Rob Rang ranks Wilkerson as the 25th best player in the draft, calling him “the best defensive lineman no one seems to be talking about ... yet.”

John Harris of Lance Zierlein’s (Houston Chronicle) Sideline View blog projects for Wilkerson a rise similar to Tyson Alualu’s last year. The Jaguars shocked many by drafting Alualu with the 10th overall pick.

Like Rang, NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks ranks Wilkerson No. 25 overall among draft eligibles, noting that the 21-year-old is “creating a buzz in scouting circles.”

Wilkerson led the Owls in tackles for loss, sacks, and quarterback hurries last season, earning a second straight first-team All-MAC pick. He’s considered versatile enough to play in any scheme (3-4 or 4-3), and could solidify himself as a first-rounder with continued excellence in Indianapolis.