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2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Nate Wiggins

In recent NFL drafts, cornerbacks have taken the league by storm. Pat Surtain, Sauce Gardner, Devin Witherspoon, Trevon Diggs, and Christian Gonzalez were all drafted from 2020-2023. We have seen defenses completely change for the better based on just these players. My point is that the talent at the cornerback position is constantly improving, where you can now immediately plug in a draft pick and make them your No. 1. In my opinion, Nate Wiggins can be one of those guys you can trust to go man up on the opposing team's best wide receiver.


The Clemson standout is now officially foregoing his senior season and entering the 2024 draft. As a Freshman, Wiggins saw limited play time and struggled off the field. Dabo Swinney described Nate as immature, and Nate took that personally, taking the time to work on himself in the offseason. Sometimes constructive criticism is all you need because he improved greatly in his sophomore campaign. He finished the 2022 season with 30 tackles, 11 passes defended, and an interception. That interception came in the 2022 ACC Championship game, where Wiggins took one back to the house for 98 yards. He set the record for the longest pick-six in ACC Championship history. This season, Wiggins also started to gain increased interest from NFL scouts.


Although Clemson didn't have the year they expected in 2023, Wiggins followed his impressive 2022 season with an even more impressive 2023. He finished with 28 tackles, two forced fumbles, two interceptions, six passes defended, and a sack in just 10 games. He also took one of those interceptions back for a touchdown. If he didn't miss two weeks with a knee injury, his numbers would have looked even better. Stats aren't everything with Wiggins, however. His size and speed combination make him someone NFL quarterbacks will want to actively avoid targeting.


Wiggins does struggle with accountability. As mentioned he didn't play much during his Freshman year because the organization thought he was immature. Some of those problems flashed in the 2023 season. Wiggins didn't start two games in a row against Notre Dame and Georgia Tech. At Clemson, Dabo Swinney implemented an "accountability points" metric. Wiggins missed a tutor session and dropped into the negative for accountability points. Per team rules, Dabo said, a player with negative accountability points can not start in the upcoming game. "You show up to tutors, show up on time, you'll be alright. So he cares. He cares. I mean, we're not kicking him off the team because he missed a couple of tutors. But we are gonna hold him accountable. And you know if you're gonna be a starter for this team, you gotta be accountable." Those were Dabo's words after the win against Georgia Tech. Wiggins still played a majority of those two games that he didn't start, but the organization has its own rules, and the players must follow them.


Player Bio

Name: Nate Wiggins

Jersey: No. 2

Position: Cornerback

School: Clemson

Class: Junior

Height: 6'2

Weight: 185 lbs


Games Watched:

UNC (2022), NC State (2022), FSU (2023), Miami (2023), UNC (2023)


Major Injury History:

Nate Wiggins only missed two games due to injuries in his career. He suffered a bone bruise on his knee that sidelined him for a very short period. Health hasn't been an issue during his time at Clemson.


Player Breakdown

Man Coverage (12.5/15)

Wiggins can run with the best of them. Even if an opponent does get a step on him, he has the closing speed to rarely get burnt in coverage. He is the prototypical cornerback due to his length. Long cornerbacks are seeming to take over the NFL in the modern day. Wiggins uses this size to break up passes and keep his arms close to receivers at all times. The one flaw to his man coverage is that sometimes he gives the receiver way too much space. He does this to prevent being beaten deep in coverage, but he has the speed to make up for it. So, improving on press coverage is something he needs to work on if he wants to be an elite corner who can play both man and zone.


Zone Coverage (14/15)

In my opinion, Wiggins would fit best in a zone-oriented defense. Not that he doesn't have the talent to play man coverage, but he excels best when playing zone. The reason for this is because of his ability to move freely. He is patient and disciplined in zone coverage and can immediately snap to where the ball is heading. His awareness is amazing, which can be deadly for quarterbacks who are risk-takers. He only had three interceptions throughout his college career, but he will make people pay if put in the fitting scheme for him.


Instincts (9.5/10)

Wiggins plays exceptionally well in zone coverage due to his instincts. He recognizes routes well and reacts to breaks in an instant. This allows him to undercut passes and make plays on the ball. He can turn his hips at an elite level and has that "twitch" factor. This allows him to make quick decisions and be in a position to make the necessary play.


Ball Skills (8.5/10)

The 6'2 corner has amazing ball skills. When he faces receivers in man coverage, he can stay stride for stride with them and always seems to make a play on the ball. If he had more interceptions, I would have bumped his rating up a bit, but he always seems to swat the ball, preventing the receiver from holding onto the ball. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this, but there have been times when he had chances for interceptions and either dropped them or decided to bat them away instead. He can make many plays on the ball because of how athletic he is and how high he jumps. The vertical, combined with his size, provides a scary threat that quarterbacks should not want to throw deep on.


Press/Physicality (6/10)

As I previously mentioned when discussing his man coverage, Wiggins occasionally gives receivers a lot of breathing room in man. He plays far off the receiver in hopes of not getting beat deep. In the NFL, quarterbacks will look to expose that and complete the easy throw that he is allowing to be made. He is also only 185 lbs. At 6'2, that is a very light frame that bigger receivers will attempt to take advantage of. That is another reason why he doesn't press far up too often. He will get outmuscled by those types of receivers at the line, resulting in that player probably making themselves open. Most definitely has room to add more mass to his frame and improve his overall strength. The weight room should be the main focus for Nate during the offseason.


Long Speed (10/10)

Long speed is Nate's best feature. He made two outlandish plays this year against Miami and UNC. North Carolina's running back, Omarion Hampton, looked like he had just broken free for a 64-yard touchdown. It didn't look like anyone could catch him until Wiggins tracked him down at the one-yard line and knocked the ball loose. Not only did he save a touchdown, but it resulted in a touchback, giving Clemson possession of the ball. On this play, Wiggins recorded a maximum speed of 22.6 MPH! This was the second-fastest recorded time of the season.

A similar play happened in the Miami game this year as well. Miami looked like they had an easy 80-yard rushing touchdown. There was nobody in the camera shot, then suddenly Wiggins appeared and hawked him down, punching the ball out at the one-yard line again. This time, Miami recovered it for a touchdown, but it was a phenomenal play. His hustle is unmatched and is a trait NFL scouts need to appreciate. He also has the long speed to keep up with receivers deep. He rarely gets beat deep due to his speed.


Tackling/Run Support (7/10)

Due to his light frame, Wiggins needs to improve his strength to get better at tackling and to get better at stopping the run. If unblocked, he can wrap up well and make the tackle. In other words, he is a good open-field tackler. This is due to his length and his hustle. But if there is a receiver blocking him, there's a good chance he won't be the first to make a play on the ball. They will outmuscle him, and ensure he doesn't get to the ball carrier.


Athleticism (9/10)

Nate can run with the best of them, jump with the best of them, and defend the best players. His athleticism is off the charts and should be something viewers notice right away. He flashed this athleticism at an all-time high in Clemson's game against Florida State this year. The game was tied 24-24 with 20 seconds left. On 3rd and 10, Wiggins broke up a pass that was in Johnny Wilson's hands. Keep in mind Johnny Wilson is 6'7, 238 lbs. Then, the very next play, fourth down, game on the line, Wiggins jumps extremely high in the air and tips a ball intended for Keon Coleman just shy of the endzone. Keon Coleman is 6'4, 215 lbs. He single-handedly took over on the most crucial drive of the game, while defending receivers that were much bigger than him in size and weight.


Change of Direction (4.5/5)

Wiggins poses a quick change of direction due to hip speed and twitch factor. This allows him to mirror receivers effectively, making it a challenge for them to gain any separation. If he is guarding someone, and the ball is thrown to someone else, he has the speed and instincts to quickly turn and attempt to make a play on the ball.


Length (5/5)

Nate's length is everything in his game. It helps him be a sure tackler despite his weight, allows him to break up passes, and can keep his hands connected to the receiver, not giving the opponent any space. He is 6'2 with a massive wingspan. That is what teams look for in the drafts nowadays because of the many benefits it can be developed into.


Player Summary

The lengthy cornerback should be a plug-and-play day-one starter in the NFL. He can match up with any offensive weapon due to his speed, length, and athleticism. He constantly makes plays on the ball, and his instincts are what separates him from the competition. If he gets drafted by a team that focuses on zone defense, he has the chance to excel to his full potential. His weight is a little bit concerning, however. Building mass should be a priority, as the difference between college and the NFL is no joke.


Rookie Projections: Starting Cornerback

Third-Year Projection: Above Average/Pro Bowl Caliber Cornerback

Final Grade (86/100): Late-1st Round Talent


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