Muhammad Wilkerson walked to his locker inside the Jets training facility this week put down his cell phone and turned around to see he was surrounded by a group of reporters and cameras.

“Wow what’s all this?” Wilkerson said.

He had better get used to the attention.

If it takes three years to properly evaluate a draft then the Jets hit a home run by taking Wilkerson in the first round in 2011. Five games into his third season the defensive end from Temple and Linden N.J. has not only emerged as the best player on the Jets defense but the best player in New York football.
Name someone else who deserves that label more. Eli Manning? Not this season. Victor Cruz? Not enough salsa. Anyone else on the Jets? Not even close.

Wilkerson had a monster game in the Jets’ 30-28 triumph in Atlanta Monday night collecting seven tackles a sack and a forced fumble on quarterback Matt Ryan that led to a Nick Folk field goal. For the season Wilkerson leads the Jets with four sacks and has seven over his last 10 games dating back to 2012.

“He’s dialed in” Jets linebacker Quinton Coples said. “This is his third year. He’s figured out his role. He’s figured offensive schemes and how to play the game and what we need him for. That’s been great for him. I’m impressed.”

At 6-foot-4 and 315 pounds Wilkerson has emerged into a disruptive force on the field but just as importantly a leader in the locker room. With Darrelle Revis traded to the Buccaneers Bart Scott retiring and veteran linemen such as Mike DeVito and Sione Pouha having moved on to other teams the Jets needed someone to fill their leadership void. Wilkerson by nature a quiet guy has accepted his role saying all the right things.