"Baby Sapp" or an Original

If there were odds on what player the Bears will take with the 14th pick in the draft Miami DT Vince Wilfork would be the favorite. Wilfork has been dubbed "Baby Sapp" for his similarities to Warren Sapp. Whether or not that's a fair comparison is up for debate.

At first glance it's easy to see why Wilfork has drawn comparisons to Sapp. At 6-foot-1, 323 pounds Wilfork is slightly bigger than Sapp when he played at Miami in the mid nineties, while both dominated the line of scrimmage for the Hurricanes.

Sapp visited the University several times during Wilfork's tenure at Miami and the two formed a close bond that developed into a teacher-mentor relationship.

"We're so close. When you see him he just looks at me and smiles and we hit it off and talk about whatever," Wilfork said of Sapp.

Wilfork has uncanny athletic ability for his size, however a stopwatch does not do him justice. His forty times clocked between 5.00 and 5.12. He has a good burst off the line of scrimmage, which is important in Lovie Smith's up the field penetration philosophy. His strength is obvious as he completed 36 reps at 225 pounds.

While Wilfork has a similar body frame and skill set to Sapp, he doesn't have the baggage.

"I'm not a big talker," Wilfork said. "I won't run my mouth on the field. I don't do that because I believe that when you make the tackle, you're supposed to do that — no jumping up to celebrate. That's what you get paid to do and that's what you're supposed to do. No showboating."

"Baby Sapp" has the merits to stand on his and is one of the best defensive line prospects in this year's draft. As a junior he made First team All Conference after posting 64 tackles, 11 for loss to go with 6 sacks. During his sophomore campaign he tallied 43 tackles with 15 for loss and 7 sacks.

From the players that Bear Report had a chance to interview during the NFL Scouting Combine Wilfork stood out for his honesty and maturity in the face of tragedy. Wilfork lost his father to kidney failure at age 48 and lost his mother to a stroke at age 46 — in a span of several months during the 2002 season.

He wears a necklace as a reminder of his father, David, who suffered kidney failure and died in 2002, and his mother, Barbara, who had a stroke and died later that year. He also has tattoos on each arm, one saying "Rest in peace Mom" and the other saying "Rest in peace Dad."

"Everywhere I go they follow me," he said of his parents while holding up the necklace. "My father and my mother promised everywhere I go I have this. I don't care where I'm at; it's with me. If you don't see it around my neck, I guarantee it's in my pocket."

Wilfork thinks he knows what his parents would tell him about becoming an NFL player.

"They would be proud of me," he said. "I knew my father would especially, because he was a big football fanatic."

His father played for Bethune-Cookman.

"He would have been so proud of me, but I know he's proud of me now, looking down on me," Wilfork said. "Probably standing next to me right now. And, of course, he probably would be talking about what he would have done. But that's my father. That's my father."

TFY Draft Preview Scouting Report
Positive:
Powerful, game controlling defensive player that can be an unstoppable force. Top athlete that displays explosion off the snap, plays with leverage and bulrushes opponents up the field. Quickly closes to the action, immediately alters his angle of attack and chases the action from behind. Squares and wraps tackling bringing ball carriers down on initial contact. Displays an array of moves getting off blocks.

Negative: Looked overweight and out of shape as a junior and as though he was playing not to get hurt. Lackadaisical off the ball and inconsistent at times.

Analysis: Displaying flashes of dominance, Wilfork is an explosive defender in the middle of the line. Had a lot of inconsistency issues last season, which is dropping him down draft boards but a good prospect at a priority position.


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