EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 24: Eli Manning #!0 of the New York Giants is sacked by Muhammad Wilkerson #96 of the New York Jets during the second half of a game at MetLife Stadium on December 24, 2011 in East Rutherford. New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
I regret to inform you that we are heading into the lull of the NFL offseason. Fear not my green friends, there is always something to talk about. I think it would be interesting to write some blurbs regarding players that have the potential to make a larger impact in 2012. The first player on my list is our 2011, 1st round draft pick, Muhammad Wilkerson. Come join me after the jump for more.A good place to start out is with our hopes for Wilkerson. Going into the 2011 draft, it was a dead giveaway that we were going to be looking for DE help. In Wilkerson, we saw the 2nd coming of Shaun Ellis. A physical DE that can get penetration, and demand double teams, was our dream. Unfortunately, Muhammad came up a little short. Our pass rush is still a huge problem going into this draft. Wilkerson finished the season with 49 tackles, 3 sacks, and 1 forced fumble. Those aren't bad numbers, but for a 1st round pick, we need more.
As far as tackle numbers go, I am impressed with Wilkerson's production, but I was expecting more when it came to pass rushing. I know that 3-4 DEs aren't really known as the big pass rushers on their team, but they can still contribute. I can't tell you guys how many times I saw a perfectly shaped pocket around opposing QBs. There was never any push from the middle, and the sides never collapsed. Muhammad had a tendency to caught rushing too upright. The kind of time QBs had this yea, isn't going to fly next year.
With a full year under his belt, Wilkerson can now mature into the role we need him to play. The lack of a proper offseason hurt us a lot last year. With the way this team is built, a slow start to the season really sent us in the wrong direction. In 2012, the Jets should be back into the swing of things. Wilkerson will be one of many that will benefit from the trip to Cortland. With a lot of hard work, and good coaching, he can easily become a dominant force on our D-line.
2012 predictions: 47 Tackles, 5.5 Sacks, 2 FF, 15 QB Pressures, 10 QB Hits