Temple junior defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson told the Philly Sports Daily Report on New Year's Eve that he will enter the NFL draft.
The departure of Owls head coach Al Golden to Miami (Fla.) certainly had a part in Wilkerson's decision, but NFL scouts would have been interested in the versatile 6-5, 300-pound talent in any case. He ranked third on the team's defense with 70 tackles, which included 13 for loss, and 9.5 sacks.
Wilkerson's combination of size and athleticism are obvious to anyone watching the first-team All-MAC pick this season. His agility is impressive for his size, as is his hustle to close on ballcarriers in the backfield or track them down from behind (his 70 tackles are a high number for a defensive lineman). He also has the versatility to play as either a 3-4 DE or 4-3 three-technique tackle. Though still needing to get stronger and raw in his abiliity to get off blocks with his hands against better offensive lineman, NFL coaches can't wait to work with him.
Last spring, East Carolina junior tackle Linval Joseph brought a similar skill set to the draft a year early. The Giants selected him with the 46th overall selection. Other scouts may compare Wilkerson to former first-round pick Kentwan Balmer. Therefore, there's no reason to expect this young, promising talent to be available after the second round has closed.
--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter