With Organized Team Activities in full swing right now, optimism reigns around the NFL.
One thing we know about New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan, he’s not very shy on doling out praise to his players and his team.
This week at OTA’s, Ryan singled out second-year defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson as a player he’s “really excited about” and expects big things from in 2012.
“This guy’s going to write his own ticket,” Ryan said of Wilkerson. “You see the jump he’s making. … Muhammad Wilkerson had a fine first year and he’s taken off from there. It’s exciting for a coach to see that.”
According to the folks at Pro Football Focus, Wilkerson ranked 5th among all 3-4 defensive ends in run stop percentage, just below teammate Mike DeVito, who finished 4th in the league.
In addition to his outstanding play in run support, Wilkerson added 3 sacks and a team-leading 13 tackles for loss in 2011, four more than linebacker Bart Scott, who was second on the team with 9.
Not too shabby for a rookie from a smaller football program at Temple University who started all 16 games as a rookie and played through a shoulder sprain most of the season.
With the outstanding Sione Pouha lined up next to him, and DeVito on the other side, Wilkerson helped the Jets defensive line become one of the most formidable lines in run defense, and that’s a pretty good start.
In 2012, the Jets added the athletic Quinton Coples in the draft, and they expect the 22-year-old Muhammad Wilkerson to become more of a complete player in his sophomore season.
The Jets expect their defensive line to be a strength of their team this year, and Wilkerson is going to be a big part of that.
Rex Ryan certainly likes what he’s seen in camp so far, and that’s a guy who knows a thing or two about defensive linemen.
Wilkerson is the type of player who grinds and does the unsung dirty work for his team. Keep your eye out on number 96. He had a great year as a rookie. In year two, expect him to shine even brighter.