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NFL Scouting Report: Nate Wiggins

John Moran

Clemson cornerback Nate Wiggins could be the next star corner in the NFL.


It’s that time of year: NFL Draft season. With the Super Bowl in the books, every team looks to retool for the 2024-2025 season, and now, the GOAT’s getting into it. In this article, star Clemson cornerback Nate Wiggins will be reviewed. Remember, watch the film before forging your own opinion, but here’s mine.


The first thing to note is Nate Wiggins’ perfect production number this past season. The stat line here is about as perfect as a corner can be; in 293 coverage snaps this past season, Wiggins allowed only 176 yards. His other numbers include allowing only 4.29 yards per target, an 80.1 PFF man coverage grade, and a 46-yard interception return touchdown. By the numbers, Wiggins played a great season.


Things get more interesting beyond the box score, though. As with the rest of the top corners in this draft, he’s a good mover. He has smooth hips that allow him to efficiently transition from backpedal to downfield sprint, which is important. Wiggins does have a slight hitch in the hips from time to time when making this transition, but more often than not he is fluid in that movement. 


In addition to his solid hips, he is explosive driving down routes. He can close space quickly, which allows him to leave a sizable cushion between himself and the receiver to prevent getting burned vertically while also not having to give up the short hitches and flat routes. He prevents the vertical with the cushion, but his athleticism is such that he can still get back down to the receiver to break up the catch underneath. 


However, of my three top corners, Cooper DeJean, Terrion Arnold, and, of course, Wiggins, Nate is the worst athlete. He is 6’ 2” and 185 pounds, which is considered to be too slender for a corner. That tall, lankier frame won’t be as solid when taking constant NFL-level hits, whereas a 215-pound guy like DeJean is taking those hits with ease. Additionally, this smaller size could lead to getting bullied at the line of scrimmage or downfield at the catch point by a bigger, stronger player. A mismatch on a tight end could prove disastrous for Wiggins. His movement skills are good, and his short term burst is elite, but the general all-around athleticism isn’t there in the way it is with Arnold or DeJean. Also, with that 185 pound frame comes a lack of play strength, making him a weaker run defender. 


Additionally, another detractor to his athleticism is his downfield long recovery speed. To be fair, none of the top corners this year are speedsters, so this doesn’t necessarily bring him down as compared to the other two. Still, his recovery speed is not elite. That’s one of the reasons he leaves such a large cushion for receivers. Only his short-burst explosiveness saves him from being a liability with that cushion. 


However, while Wiggins isn’t a five-star athlete, he has a pair of superpowers that make him elite; his ball skills are unreal, and his technique is pristine. In terms of technique, he is extremely sound. He possesses the innate ability to feel the route a receiver is running and stay in that hip pocket the entire time without needing to grab the jersey and draw a penalty. In fact, he only committed a single penalty over the course of the whole season. Wiggins also has great hand-fighting ability. When playing press coverage, he can swipe away the hands of receivers and get in their chests before they can do it to him, and when they make their break, he has both the fluid, technically correct footwork, and the lateral explosiveness to keep up. He plays very, very controlled, and he is always at balance, making sure to never overextend into a block or on a route. 


With Wiggins’ ball skills, his ball-tracking ability is excellent. As soon as the football leaves the quarterback’s hand, he knows where it’s going to end up. With that instinctual knowledge of the ball’s path through the air, he can time up his punches through the receiver’s hands perfectly, leading to a great PBU ability (while he only posted 6 this year, that’s largely because he wasn’t accurately targeted too many times). 


My verdict on Nate Wiggins is that he is CB2. His technicality is so strong that I am almost certain that he will be a strong, consistent starter in the NFL for years to come. However, the lack of tier-one athleticism makes me afraid to put him on that top shelf. His run defense isn’t elite, and his recovery speed isn’t there. But the lateral ability and ball skills make him really enticing. He’s a difficult prospect to grade, but I think I would rate him as a 6.57, meaning he has boom-or-bust potential. The boom-or-bust label is misleading because I don’t think he has any chance of being a bust. The technical ability is just too strong. I just mean to grade him over Arnold and below DeJean. He will be a consistent starter, and I have faith in his ability. I can’t wait to see what he does this coming season.

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