My more loyal readers undoubtedly know that I have been a huge Muhammad Wilkerson supporter ever since I saw his dramatic improvement at the beginning of the 2012 season. For those who still don't know the name, Wilkerson is a defensive end for the Jets who just finished his second season after being drafted No. 30 overall in 2011.
Wilkerson spent 2012 being dramatically underrated and lumped in with the tidal wave of negative press surrounding the New York Jets. Just recently, however, he received some long-deserved praise from ProFootballFocus.com.
In their 2012 rankings, PFF rated Wilkerson as the 14th best player overall, including all teams and positions. For a little perspective, that places him ahead of Matt Ryan (17th) and Tom Brady (21st). That is neither a criticism of Ryan nor Brady. Wilkerson is just that good at what he does. Khaled Elsayed commented in the same article:
It’s easy to get lost in the shadow of players used in a similar fashion, and that was certainly the case for Wilkerson this year. Of course playing for the Jets and the circus that followed didn’t help either, but for those in the know he was something special this year. Finishing second in our 3-4 defensive end rankings, Wilkerson was an impact player in the run game and supported that by adding an extremely healthy 37 quarterback disruptions.
Elsayed is undoubtedly referring to J.J. Watt, whose historically great season overshadowed efforts by any other 3-4 defensive ends around the NFL. In a normal year, Wilkerson could have easily been the best at his position and earned first-team All-Pro. In 2012, he was not only an All-Pro snub but a Pro Bowl snub as well.
Needless to say, Wilkerson is the highest rated New York Jet on the list. It is worth noting that Darrelle Revis was not eligible, as these ratings were for the 2012 season in isolation.
The time to hop on the Wilkerson bandwagon is now. In only his second year as a pro, he demonstrated such incredible improvement that it is hard to say where his ceiling will be.