Muhammad Wilkerson's role in 2011 seems tied closely to that of longtime Jet Shaun Ellis. Ellis is hitting the free agent market. Still a productive starter, if the 33 year old resigns with the Jets, he will remain a starter. Wilkerson will probably be his primary backup and come in to give starters along the defensive line a break. He also could see time in pass rushing situations playing both inside and outside.
Retaining Ellis seems like less than a 50/50 proposition at this point for the Jets, though. He has been seeking a long term deal from the team for a while. The Jets have shown little willingness to get it done. Now with all of their other free agents and a successor picked in the first round, number 92's days with the team seem numbered. While not looking at Julius Peppers money, a guy who has made a Pro Bowl as a defensive end in both 4-3 and 3-4 bases should have suitors and potentially demand that will make him worth more than the Jets want to pay.
If that is the case, Wilkerson will have a chance to win a starting job immediately. He will be up against fellow rookie Kenrick Ellis along with potentially some other guys who were low on the depth chart in 2010. Trevor Pryce might come into the mix to split snaps as well. The coaching staff will work quickly to try and improve Wilkerson's strength and technique.
In the long run, the Jets will want to get out of him what every team wants out of a first round pick, a really productive starter. The ideal scenario is for Wilkerson, Kenrick Ellis, and Mike Devito to form an excellent three man defensive line for years.