The great thing about the NFL is that there are so many positions that every year, there is almost always at least one player who has a breakout year on every team, no matter how good or bad the team is. This is one part in a 32 part segment detailing one potential breakout player for the 2012 NFL season on each NFL team. For the New York Jets, that player is defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson.
Under Head Coach Rex Ryan, the Jets love using multiple different types of fronts. They use everything from a 4-3 to a 3-4 to a 46, something they’ll be using more of this season. Because of this, they rotate defensive lineman often. However, even as a rookie, Muhammad Wilkerson, the Jets’ 1st round pick in 2011, saw significant snaps as a defensive lineman, playing 608 snaps, evenly against the run and as a pass rusher, 2nd on the team among defensive linemen.
Wilkerson fared pretty well, especially against the run. He ranked 5th at his position with a 9.7% run stop rate, with 28 run stops on 290 run stopping snaps, a 9.7% rate. As a pass rusher, he wasn’t quite as good. He had 3 sacks, 4 quarterback hits, and 8 quarterback pressures on 300 pass rush snaps, good for a pedestrian 5.0% rate. His pass rush productivity rate was 4.2, which is also pretty pedestrian, as it ranked in the middle of the pack at his position.
However, Wilkerson is very talented and heading into his 2nd year in the league, he figures to get a larger workload. He’s incredibly versatile and will fit into any one of their fronts and should lead their defensive line in snaps played this season. Already great as a run stuffer, Wilkerson, a developmental prospect coming out of Temple, improved as a pass rusher as last season went on as he had 2 sacks, 2 quarterback hits, and 6 quarterback pressures in his final 8 games, on 144 pass rush snaps, good for a rate of 6.9%. He’s definitely got the potential for a breakout season in 2012.
If you’re interested in doing a fantasy football league with me, here’s the link (no draft date set yet, currently standard, with the option to become PPR with group vote). http://msn.foxsports.com/fantasy/football/commissioner/Registration/Private.aspx?league=55086&password=FanSpot2