Temple's Muhammad Wilkerson being penciled at tackle and end

Temple's Muhammad Wilkerson, currently at the NFL combine, said: "Wherever the coach wants me, I'm going to be there."
Temple's Muhammad Wilkerson, currently at the NFL combine, said: "Wherever the coach wants me, I'm going to be there."
Posted: February 28, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS - After his sophomore year at Temple, Muhammad Wilkerson made two changes. He moved from defensive tackle to defensive end, and he made a more unusual transition for a lineman, taking jersey No. 9, instead of 96.

The number switch was a sign of his standing on the team, where former coach Al Golden had rules about who could wear single digits.

To earn that right, you had to be a person who "did things right, on or off the field, and was recognized by your peers as one of the toughest players on the team," Wilkerson said Sunday at the NFL scouting combine.

Wilkerson, who played as a 4-3 tackle for his first two seasons and a 3-4 end in his junior year, is rising up analysts' draft boards after leaving Temple a year early for the NFL. He's seen as a prospect who can play either line position.

"I have no preference," for tackle or end, said the 6-foot-5, 305-pounder. "Wherever the coach wants me, I'm going to be there."

Wilkerson has first-round talent but could be pushed into the second round because of an unusually deep defensive line class, NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said.

Corner store. Media sessions at the combine ended Sunday with cornerbacks, one of the Eagles' biggest positions of need. The man considered the best of the 2011 class, LSU's Patrick Peterson, faced topflight college competition - matching up in the Southeastern Conference against two of the draft's top receivers, Georgia's A.J. Green and Alabama's Julio Jones.

"In the NFL, it's a Jones and Green every Sunday," Peterson said. Jones was the only opponent to catch a touchdown on him last season, Peterson said.

Nebraska's Prince Amukamara is seen as the second-best option at corner, but he said he's not paying attention to such rankings, drawing laughter with his quip: "I'm not someone who Googles themselves."

We got the sense that Jimmy Smith might. The Colorado cornerback has topflight talent and size - 6-2, 211 pounds - but faces questions about his character. He walked a thin line between confidence and brashness when he met with reporters, claiming to have better ball skills than NFL all-pro Nnamdi Asomugha.

"I've got great hands. I played wide receiver in high school - 1,500 yards," Smith said.

He was caught with a beer when he was 18 and tested positive for marijuana in 2007. Smith said he made mistakes as a freshman and sophomore, and knows he'll have to show teams he has matured.

"These interviews are really what's going to make or break me," Smith said.

While Peterson and Amukamara are expected to go early in the first round, Smith might last until the Eagles' No. 23 pick because of the questions around him. Mayock said Smith may be too inconsistent to take in the first round.

Miami cornerback Brandon Harris has been linked to the Eagles in some mock drafts. Listed at 5-11, he said he can still play physically.

"It helps me to come from a system like Miami where I was able to be aggressive and physical against those bigger receivers that don't expect guys my size to be able to do it," Harris said. 

 Local flavor. Da'Rel Scott, a running back from Conshohocken, opened eyes by running the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds, fastest of the running backs who worked out. Scott went to Maryland after graduating from Plymouth Whitemarsh High. . . . Temple's Jaiquawn Jarrett is considered one of the better safeties in a relatively weak class. He said he wants to show at the combine that he can compete at the highest level. Jarrett also had high praise for his former coach, saying that Miami, Golden's new home, should expect to compete for a national championship every year. . . . Downingtown native Pat Devlin threw Sunday morning. He didn't stand out for good or for bad. Devlin was sharp on shorter throws, such as slants, but missed on most of his deep attempts.

Contact staff writer Jonathan Tamari at 215-854-5214 or jtamari@phillynews.com.

Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JonathanTamari

comments powered by Disqus