Shutdown Corner - NFL

With the 2010 NFL season in the books (and hopefully a new CBA soon in the works), it's time to turn our eyes to the NFL draft, and the pre-draft evaluation process. We've already done scouting reports of the top 40 players on our board, and you can read all the details on the first Shutdown 40 here. For the second Shutdown 40, players 41-80, we have the advantage of combine performances and that much more evaluation material.

Over the next few weeks, we'll also be adding Pro Day data when relevant. But we're always going mostly on game tape; the proper evaluation formula seems to be about 80 percent tape, 20 percent Senior Bowl/combine/Pro Day. If you see what you expect in drills, you go back to the tape to confirm. If what you see in drills surprises you in a positive or negative sense, you go back to the tape to catch where the anomalies may be.

We continue the second Shutdown 40 with one of the best smaller-school players in this draft class - Temple defensive tackle/end Muhammad Wilkerson. In 36 games with the Owls, Wilkerson put up 144 tackles (88 solo), 17 sacks (15 solo), 11 passes defensed, five forced fumbles, and five quarterback hurries. At 6-foor 4 and 315 pounds, Wilkerson is one of the more intriguing prospects in this draft class. He possesses tackle power, but also has the agility of a basketball player. The only defensive tackle heavier than Wilkerson who ran a faster 40 than his 4.96 was Alabama's Marcell Dareus, the #1 overall tackle on many boards. And his 10-yard split of 1.73 put him in the top ten among all tackles.

Pros: Wilkerson has a well-proportioned big body - he's not a fat fireplug and he's able to use his natural speed in game situations. In a wide three-tech position, he can crash inside against the run very well. Splits double-teams with a strong rip move and his sheer power and is always looking to make a play in the pocket or to the sideline. Can move outside from a stop-start quickly. Mirrors the back very well in space. Extremely sudden off the snap and closes quickly to the quarterback, and he'll also read throws outside and deflect passes.

Slides well off blocks to the ball, and he's surprisingly adept at getting upfield to help with running plays. Sure tackler with a knack for causing turnovers. Wilkerson hasn't just relied on overpowering inferior opponents - he's good with his hands to disrupt and he's always looking past the blocker to the next level. Will take up double teams and let other defenders flow through. Has the potential to stunt and disrupt inside. Can stack and shed well for a taller player.

Cons: Serious questions must be raised about the quality of his opposition - in the rare cases where he played teams with more potential high draft picks than in the MAC (Penn State in the 2010 season was a primary example), he looked lost at times and seemed to have trouble keeping up with the action - although this was mitigated to a point by the fact that he was double-teamed so often.

Wilkerson is agile enough, but he occasionally looks as if he's on ice skates after he receives a resounding block - you'd like to see him push back more quickly. Will occasionally overshoot tackles because he's getting through gaps as a high speed. Doesn't always present the kind of bull rush required to upset faster tackles to get to the edge and win those battles.

Conclusion: With all the talk about the big-school bigger ends who can play various hybrid positions, Wilkerson may have one of the best skill sets to disrupt the quarterback and stop the run from the ever-more-valuable five-tech position. Kevin Colbert of the Pittsburgh Steelers (who should know) has said that finding the ideal five-tech player is a lot more than just retrofitting a guy who isn't big enough to be a 4-3 defensive tackle; a player has to be long, quick, and have an aggressive set of moves to set the edge and blow up a tackle. Wilkerson will have to prove himself against stronger opposition, but he could excel over time in the right system.

NFL Comparison: Fili Moala(notes), Indianapolis Colts

More Second Shutdown 40

#41 -- Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia

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