Age (At Draft Day): 20
Position: Outside Cornerback
Weight: 185 pounds
Nate Wiggins, the 6'2", 185-pound cornerback hailing from Atlanta, stands as a testament to Clemson's football program, embodying the excellence and versatility it nurtures. Wiggins burst onto the scene as a highly touted four-star recruit, catching the attention of scouts with his tantalizing mix of height, wingspan, and athleticism. Standing at 6'2" and 185 pounds Wiggins was clocked at a maximum speed of 22.6 mph last season. To put that into perspective, that was tied for the second-fastest time in college football last year, behind only Xavier Worthy of Texas.
His journey began with a brief stint on special teams during his freshman year, showcasing his versatility. However, it wasn't long before Wiggins asserted himself as a defensive force, earning a starting role in just the fourth week of his sophomore season. In that sophomore season, Wiggins totalled 29 tackles including 2 for loss, but more importantly, had 15 pass deflections and a 98-yard pick-six. Wiggins only got better as a junior, and in only 10 games he again had 29 tackles including one for loss, one sack, while having two forced fumbles, two interceptions and six pass deflections.
Beyond his on-field prowess, Wiggins' commitment to making a difference extends far beyond the gridiron. His establishment of the Wiggs Worldwide Foundation exemplifies his dedication to uplifting underprivileged communities through mentorship initiatives and collaborations with local organizations.
Wiggins' journey, marked by excellence on the field and a profound commitment to community betterment, positions him not only as a formidable athlete but also as a beacon of inspiration, embodying the holistic impact athletes can have beyond their sporting endeavours. As he continues to carve his path, Wiggins looks poised to leave an enduring legacy, setting the stage for his promising future in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Length and Physicality: One of Wiggins' defining attributes is his NFL-caliber size and wingspan. His long arms are deployed masterfully in press coverage, disrupting routes and restricting the catching radius of opposing receivers. This physicality adds an extra layer to his game, making him a tough matchup for any wideout.
Coverage Instincts: Wiggins exhibits a high football IQ, evident in his exceptional route recognition and disciplined tracking of the quarterback's eyes. This keen understanding of the game allows him to read plays, jump routes, and create turnovers, establishing himself as a ball-hawking cornerback.
Fluid Transitions: Operating with a smooth press-bail technique and quick footwork, Wiggins demonstrates a seamless transition between coverage schemes. Whether in press or off-man coverage, he maintains tight coverage on vertical routes, showcasing adaptability that is valuable at the next level.
Competitiveness: Wiggins brings a palpable competitive edge to the field, characterized by his willingness to aggressively attack the body of receivers and contest catches. This physical playstyle renders him versatile, excelling in both press and off-man coverage scenarios.
Zone Coverage Skills: A standout in zone coverage, Wiggins displays a deep understanding of route concepts. His ability to anticipate plays and react swiftly within the zone allows him to disrupt passes effectively, further solidifying his all-around defensive capabilities.
Tackling and Run Defense: While displaying adequacy in tackling, Wiggins could elevate his game by showcasing more enthusiasm and commitment in run defence. Developing a more physical approach could make him a more well-rounded defensive asset.
Elite Change of Direction: Wiggins encounters challenges sometimes in quick changes of direction, impacting his effectiveness in certain coverage situations. Improving the fluidity of his backpedal and enhancing hip flexibility will contribute to better overall agility.
Weight and Need to Add Muscle Mass: Despite his lean frame, adding more muscle mass is an area of potential improvement for Wiggins, particularly in press coverage scenarios. Enhanced physicality would equip him to better handle larger and more physical NFL receivers.
Balancing Physicality: Wiggins's enthusiasm and physical style occasionally manifest in moments of overzealousness in coverage resulting in flags. While his aggressive approach is generally a positive trait, there is a need for him to fine-tune his technique, ensuring he avoids unnecessary contact that may lead to penalties.
Draft Projection: Top 25
Nate Wiggins is not just a highly anticipated prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft; he stands as a potential game-changing force in a team's defensive backfield. Most scouts have Wiggins as a top-five cornerback in this year's class, but I have him in my top two, underscoring his significance in this draft class. The Georgia native's journey from a standout recruit to a dynamic force in the defensive backfield speaks volumes about his dedication, adaptability, and immense potential.
Wiggins is not merely a cornerback; he embodies a dynamic force capable of completely redefining a team's defensive identity. The anticipation surrounding his draft position suggests that teams recognize his transformative potential. With his impressive combination of height, wingspan, and athleticism, Wiggins possesses the tools to become a cornerstone in a team's defensive backfield, bringing versatility and impact to every play.
While acknowledging areas for improvement, such as refining his run support and finding the optimal balance of physicality, the overall package indicates that Wiggins has the potential to be a game-changer in the NFL. As he continues to grow and develop under the right coaching, the prospect of Wiggins emerging as a cornerstone in a team's defence becomes increasingly compelling, making him a prospect to watch closely in the upcoming draft.
Player Comparison: Joey Porter Jr.
In the realm of player comparisons, Nate Wiggins intriguingly aligns with last year's 32nd overall pick, Joey Porter Jr. from Penn State. This parallel draws anticipation and excitement, as Porter Jr.'s established success as a formidable force in the defensive backfield aligns with Wiggins' own tenacious and physical approach to cornerback play. Both share a versatile skill set, excelling in both press and off-man coverage, disrupting routes, and aggressively contesting catches.
The comparison not only serves as a valuable reference point but hints at Wiggins' potential to follow a trajectory reminiscent of Porter Jr.'s success, positioning him as a high-quality starter in his first year at the NFL level. As teams evaluate Wiggins in the draft, the echoes of Porter Jr.'s impact add another layer of anticipation, suggesting that Wiggins could emerge as a transformative defensive asset, bringing competitiveness, physicality, and versatility to elevate any team's defensive prowess.