The other day we told you the Kansas City Chiefs met privately with Temple DT Muhammad Wilkerson.
I expressed some confusion about what KC’s plans for Wilkerson might be because he is being projected as a 4-3 DT or a 3-4 DE. At 315, he is a little small for a NT, although the Chiefs have used 315 pound Ron Edwards at the position for two years with varying degrees of success.
Wilkerson is being projected as a late 1st or early 2nd round pick and I find it hard to believe that the Chiefs would spend another 1st round pick on a DE with Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson already on the roster.
To get some more insight, I reached out to one of FanSided’s scouts Jesse Bartolis of NFL Mocks. Here is what Jessie had to say on Wilkerson:
I would say playing Wilkerson at nose tackle is possible, but it’d be like buying a Corvette for a winter car. It’d still work, but it would be a gross misuse of a piece of equipment. Wilkerson is built to play 3-4 DE, and could play well as a 4-3 DT.
I default to Giants players since that’s who I watch the most but Chris Canty comes to mind. He was a good 3-4 DE in Dallas, and pretty good DT for the Giants in a 4-3. I think Wilkerson is more explosive, but he’s a big man as well. Marcus Stroud is another one and a similar size, game style of play. Neither of those players have been used as a 3-4 NT, but both have played in 4-3 and 3-4 alignments (Stroud this past year with Buffalo a bit, but that’s at the tail end of his career, I think he would have been fine as a 3-4 DE earlier in his career as well).
Wilkerson is versatile and really shooting up boards based on everything you read, but drafting him to play NT would be a mistake in my humble opinion.
If Jessie is correct about Wilkerson than it would be silly for the Chiefs to draft him unless they have pretty much completely given up on Tyson Jackson. Over on the other side, Glenn Dorsey has improved enough to keep around. Dosey may not ever be the player he was predicted to be but he is a hard worker and has shown improvement over the last couple of years. He may be a bit overpaid but he certainly isn’t a problem.
I like that the Chiefs benched Jackson in favor of Shaun Smith last season. Smith was playing better and deserved the starting spot over Jackson. The Chiefs didn’t manage to re-sign Smith before the lockout began so we have no way of knowing whether they play on bringing him back.
While we are on the subject of Smith, one important thing to consider is that he once played the NT position under Romeo Crennel in Cleveland. The Browns then later brought in Shawn Rodgers and Smith moved back and forth between NT and DE. If the Chiefs do resign Smith he does offer some versatility on the defensive line.
We know that the Chiefs are interested in replacing Ron Edwards at NT because they went after Shawn Rodgers earlier in the offseason. That could mean that they are hoping to fill the NT in free agency rather than the draft. If placing Wilkerson in the NT position is “like buying a Corvette for a winter car” as Jessie suggested, then perhaps the Chiefs really are interested in adding a starting caliber DE if the opportunity arises. If that is the case then it proves Scott Pioli isn’t terribly afraid to admit his mistakes, but it also means the Chiefs will be stuck with a very high priced backup lineman in Tyson Jackson. The smart money would be to re-sign Shaun Smith and hope against all hope that Jackson is a late bloomer and finally shows up in 2011.
The more I think about the Wilkerson workout the more confusing it all seems. It may be that Pioli wants his franchise DE and he is hell bent on getting him.
What do you think Addicts? What should the Chiefs do along the defensive line? Should they give Tyson Jackson another year or cut their losses and draft a guy like Wilkerson?