A year removed from missing his entire junior season after being ruled academically ineligible, Ole Miss’s Jordan Wilkins returned for his senior season and performed terrifically, rushing for 1011 yards on 6.5 yards per carry and adding nine touchdowns on the ground. Missing his junior season was a setback, as he was set to be a key part of the Rebels’ backfield, however now Wilkins heads to the NFL with just 279 carries, a positive in a league where backs are breaking down before age 30.
While some teams may be put off by the small sample size Wilkins has, others will see a running back with several key traits for the position and entering the league fresh.
Wilkins’ performance at the Scouting Combine was disappointing and surprising. The back tested below average at a good portion of drills, with his best number being a 36-inch vertical, in the 71st percentile among running backs. However Wilkins is a much better athlete than he showed in Indianapolis.
One of Wilkins’ best abilities as a dynamic runner is his jump cuts, which are truly a joy to watch. He moves with outstanding suddenness and fluidity and will consistently make defenders miss with them. Wilkins showed off much better explosiveness than his numbers would indicate, as well.
Jordan Wilkins is fun as hell (look at the distance he covers on the hurdle!) pic.twitter.com/KjL1EciigH— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) March 26, 2018
Wilkins possesses a good combination of patience and burst in the backfield. He will slow up or hesitate and wait for blocks to develop before hitting the hole with good pace. Wilkins consistently gets to the second level because of his patience as a ball carrier.
Great combination of patience and burst. Wilkins consistently gets to the second level pic.twitter.com/HhX8ugtr5W— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) March 26, 2018
Look at the way he slows his run the slightest bit to allow the left guard to pull and the H-back to engage his man before hitting the line of scrimmage.
Wilkins is a reliable ball carrier with the ninth best fumble rate among RBs in his draft class, at 155.5
When afforded the space, Wilkins consistently displayed good burst at and through the line of scrimmage. He got to the second level with good speed and has a good ability to make defenders miss when moving up field. While he lacks true breakaway speed, Wilkins accelerates well out of his dynamic jump cuts.
Changes direction so fluidly in the open field pic.twitter.com/x8eUZ9jepg— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) March 26, 2018
Finish/Yards After Contact
Like Royce Freeman, I have my doubts whether Wilkins has the type of running style the Seattle Seahawks look for. He has the ability to turn losses into one or two yard gains, but he also leaves a lot of yards on the field by not finishing forward or keeping his legs moving upon contact.
Wilkins bailed out his line a lot pic.twitter.com/3OEzlUFViU— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) March 26, 2018
Wilkins has a solid frame with good balance and it’s possible he adds an element of finishing to his game in the NFL, but currently he is more finesse than power. Runs like this could have teams betting he will be able to add it to his game:
Not a lot of backs shaking off Da'Ron Payne like that (twice!) pic.twitter.com/hmCrjS3THS— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) March 26, 2018
Wilkins didn’t produce much in the passing game until this past season, where he caught 26 balls for 241 yards. Despite the lack of production, Wilkins proved to be a natural catcher of the ball, able to catch away from his body and he immediately looks to get up field. His play as a blocker is what could keep him off the field as a rookie, as he has a long way to go.
Overall, Wilkins is a dynamic runner who possesses good size for the position. With little wear on his body, he’ll be an appealing option for a team looking to add a complimentary piece on the draft’s third day.