Khalil Wilkes, Center
Alter ego: “The linguist.” According to his former fellow center, Conor McFadden, “Khalil Wilkes has invented a new language that is used purely in the Stanford football locker room.”
CBSSports.com projection: Undrafted
Cardinal career: After redshirting his freshman year, Wilkes saw action as a reserve as a sophomore and junior before breaking into a starting role as a senior. Wilkes became the full-time starter at left guard his senior year, starting in 12 games for a dominant offensive line that paved the way for the Cardinal’s rushing attack, which averaged 174.3 yards per game.
After sophomore Andrus Peat took over the left tackle position, moving David Yankey back to left guard, Wilkes found himself in a battle for the starting center position as a fifth-year senior. An intense training camp saw Wilkes win the starting center job, which he held down for all 14 games during the 2013-14 season. He was named to the All-Pac-12 second team as a fifth-year senior after serving as part of a brutal force up front that keyed a rushing attack of 207.4 yards per game.
Pro stock: Wilkes is overshadowed by offensive line counterparts Yankey and Cameron Fleming, who each project as early-round picks in the NFL Draft. However, Wilkes’ versatility (he can play both center and guard) should garner some interest in the draft or as a free agent. Scouts may be concerned with his bench press performance after he only recorded 16 reps of 225 pounds, good for eighth out of the 10 Stanford players who participated on pro day, but the Cardinal have always been more interested in how an offensive lineman performs in more lineman-specific drills, and Wilkes showed throughout his final year that he has the ability to push the defensive line backward.
Highlight: The offensive line absolutely demolished Oregon’s front seven in Stanford’s 26-20 victory in 2013 when Tyler Gaffney set a school record with 45 carries. And though Gaffney was the one pounding the rock, Wilkes did his part by opening up huge holes for the Card.
Contact Michael Peterson at mrpeters ‘at’ stanford.edu.