Wilkins and the Dozen Defenses

Alain Poupart

Christian Wilkins' Zoom media session late last week focused mostly on the issues of racial injustice, police violence and social protests, but the Miami Dolphins defensive lineman did discuss an on-field topic.

In fact, the first question in the interview session dealt with Wilkins' versatility and being able to line up at multiple spots along the defensive line.

“For me really, I just take a lot of pride in being able to do my job and a lot of other jobs along the defensive line," Wilkins said. "The saying in the NFL is, the more you can do the better, so I always try to add a lot to my game, and that comes from film study, working out hard, just really honing in on my craft at every position on the defensive line.

"That versatility is huge and I’m glad I’m able to do that for this team, because anything that can help this team I’m all for. We’ve got a really versatile defense. We do a lot of different fronts, a lot of different things up front. I’m glad I’m able to do those things as a big part of our defense.”

Wilkins isn't kidding when he says the Dolphins have a lot of different fronts and a lot of different things up front.

Based on the roster designations, Wilkins lined up in an astounding 12 different formations in his rookie season.

The 12 ranged from having one true defensive lineman on the field to having six, and everything in between with different numbers of linebackers and defensive backs.

So here are the 12 (the number indicate linemen-linebackers-DBs:













Oh, and let's not forget about Wilkins' touchdown catch against Cincinnati in Week 16.

Back to defense, to break it down, Wilkins was the sole defensive linemen with different combinations of linebackers and defensive backs. Gerald Willis also was used as the sole lineman in 1-4-6 looks in 2019, as did Davon Godchaux and Zach Sieler and Charles Harris and Taco Charlton when the Dolphins used 1-3-7 or 1-2-8 lineups.

The Dolphins also used a defense with no linemen, four linebackers and seven defensive backs on more than a half-dozen plays, and even one where wide receiver Mack Hollins joined three linebackers and seven defensive backs.

The 6-3-2 formation had Wilkins joined by defensive linemen Avery Moss, John Jenkins, Jonathan Ledbetter, Godchaux and Charles Harris for five plays in the opener against the Baltimore Ravens, and also later with Tank Carradine, Moss, Jenkins, Godchaux and Harris.

Through it all, Wilkins had a productive rookie season. He was second among all rookie defensive linemen in tackles with 56.

The only one with more was San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa, who had 62 on his way to winning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.

Wilkins figures to be a key part of the Dolphins defense in 2020, and it's a safe assumption he'll be moving around quite a bit along that defensive line.

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