Skip to main content
Raider Nation, Stand Up - View Schedule - Presented by Allegiant

'I'm committed, I'm all in': Christian Wilkins dialed in on helping elevate Raiders defense

Christian Wilkins towered over the Las Vegas Raiders staff as he walked through the team's headquarters Thursday, looking every bit of the 6-foot-4, 310 pounds he's listed at.

The splash free agent signing decided to come in his Sunday best – a three-piece black and white checkered suit with decks of playing cards featured on the inside fabric of the jacket. The design was fitting for the star defensive tackle as he arrived to Las Vegas, claiming he's had the suit for awhile now but this was the perfect opportunity to pull it out the closet.

The New England native has exclusively lived on the East Coast his entire life, going from Springfield, Massachusetts, to Clemson, South Carolina, to South Florida.

But when asked what his first memory of the Raiders is, despite not being too familiar with this side of the Mississippi River, he looked down with a huge grin.

"It's funny you say that and I love that you asked that question," Wilkins replied. "The first football team I've ever played for was the Raiders."

That's right.

The Springfield 5A Raiders in upstate Massachusetts was the first ever organized sports team Wilkins joined as a youth football player.

While his youth football squad sported gold and black instead of the famed silver and black, it translated over into a fascination for the Oakland, California, team that was 3,000 miles away.

"I'm a fan of the game and a student of the game, so I always grew up watching guys like Warren Sapp, Jerry Rice," Wilkins said of his favorite Raiders growing up. "All of those guys have done so much for this league and so much for this game that I've always followed along with the Raiders as a young kid even before coming into the pros."


His decision to sign with the Raiders wasn't necessarily a difficult one. He has familiarity with defensive coordinator Patrick Graham and defensive line coach Rob Leonard, who both coached him during his early days with the Miami Dolphins.

"Pat, he loves football," Wilkins said. "Very smart. He'll do all he can to make sure he's his best and the defense is its best. He wants to win and I know that he has a good ethic. He's just really passionate about the game.

"It's definitely helpful having a relationship with [Graham and Leonard] and a rapport with them. Definitely looking forward to working with them again."

He also has the opportunity to play alongside a star edge rusher in Maxx Crosby. Both have showcased a similar level of tenacity and durability throughout their respective careers. Wilkins and Crosby have not missed a single game over the past three seasons, logging a combined 23.5 sacks in 2023 against high double-team percentages.

"Honestly to me, he has no weaknesses," Wilkins said about Crosby. "He's a really good player and he plays the game the right way. I just hope that I can feed off of him, he can feed off of me, we can build this thing up and do things the right way. Take this organization to new heights. That's always the goal."

During Crosby's inaugural foundation dinner Thursday night, the defensive end also described his excitement to play alongside Wilkins. The former Dolphin is someone he's known personally since college as the two were draft classmates in 2019.

"We have a lot of mutual friends and we've seen each other's journeys since day one," Crosby told KTNV. "We went to the Combine together, had no idea we would be playing together in Year 6 of our careers but it's just crazy how time flies. You can't take a day for granted and getting a guy like that with all the energy in the world, great teammate, great person – it's going to be nothing but greatness coming our way.

"We're fired up to play together and help build this team."

As Wilkins heads into his sixth NFL season, he still approaches the game with the same childlike joy he had a Springfield Raider. The only difference is he's playing on the biggest stage.

If all aligns the way Wilkins and Crosby envision it, they can certainly help elevate the Raiders defense to new heights and show out for Raider Nation.

"It's just something about the Raiders and Raider Nation, from the fans and everything about them. Gritty, nasty, grimy. They're just dogs and you can feel that," said Wilkins. "Those are the things I'm all about, just grinding with a 'by any means necessary' type of mentality. You can feel that here.

"This organization needs a winner, this city needs a winner and I'm committed. I'm all in on doing the best I can to help and be a piece of that puzzle to push this organization to where it needs to go."

View the best photos of the Las Vegas Raiders' 2024 free agent class and their first day at Intermountain Health Performance Center.

Related Content

Latest Content