2021 NFL Draft: James Wiggins Player Profile

James Wiggins NFL Draft

James Wiggins NFL Draft Overview

Position: Free Safety
Height:
5’11”
Weight:
215 pounds
School: 
University of Cincinnati

Pro Day Performance Data

40-yard Dash: 4.42 seconds
Vertical Jump: 38″
Broad Jump: 10’7″
Bench Press: 22 reps

James Wiggins 2021 NFL Draft Profile

After being recruited by the Cincinnati Bearcats as a cornerback, James Wiggins was transitioned to free safety. He also redshirted his freshman year as a result to give him extra time to develop. In 2017, Wiggins was strictly a special teams player and rarely saw the field. As a matter of fact, he only recorded one tackle the entire season. Unfortunately for Wiggins, he tore his ACL in 2019 several days before the start of the regular season. He missed the entire season to recover for his senior year. Because of these circumstances, Wiggins had an inconsistent run during his time in Cincinnati.

However, when he was given a chance to play, Wiggins proved that his athleticism could not be ignored. In 2018, Wiggins had 54 tackles, five pass defenses, four interceptions, two tackles for loss, one forced fumble, and a defensive touchdown. While he was breaking out on defense, Wiggins was also showing off his kick return skills. Although he was not a game-breaking return man, Wiggins was able to show that he could do an adequate job without turning the ball over. He made the All-AAC Second Team in 2018.

Before his senior season, Wiggins was named to the College Football Freaks list by Bruce Feldman for the third straight year. Unfortunately for him, the 2020 season was shortened by the COVID-pandemic and was limited to only nine games. Last season, he had 32 tackles, 6 pass defenses, a tackle for loss, a sack, a forced fumble, and an interception.

Strengths

  • Extremely explosive and athletic
  • Solid kick returner
  • Ball-hawk that can create turnovers
  • Ability to cover the slot
  • Passionate about football

Weaknesses

  • Showed inconsistency in tackling technique after tearing his ACL
  • Injury history
  • Too small to cover tight ends
  • Tight hips causing problems to cover deep routes
  • Had several easily dropped INTs

NFL Comparison: Kevin Byard

Teams With Need at Position: Los Angeles Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles, Jacksonville Jaguars, Las Vegas Raiders, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans, Minnesota Vikings, Washington Football Team

Draft Projection: Mid Third to Late Fifth

Final Word on James Wiggins

Wiggins is arguably the most athletic safety in the 2021 NFL Draft. Because of his torn ACL in 2019, he spent most of 2020 getting back to form. His injury led to some inconsistency in his tackling. In 2018, his tackling was one of his strongest attributes, but in 2020, he had plenty of missed tackles. Wiggins fits best as a Cover-2 Safety where his responsibility is only half the field rather than as a single-high safety. Also, Wiggins has the versatility to play the slot when called upon. Wiggins was a leader on the Bearcats. His floor as an NFL player is very high because of his ability to play special teams as an ace. He was able to put that on display with a blocked punt while in college.

There is a question about Wiggins’ durability and whether his body can hold up in the NFL. Additionally, as a free safety, Wiggins is expected to cover ground quickly. Because of his tight hips, that could cause a problem. It is really hard to pinpoint the negatives in Wiggins’ game as he is a solid overall player. What seems to be holding Wiggins back is his mental state of mind since his injury. If he can get back to his play in 2018, Wiggins looks to be a starting safety in the NFL. He could be a steal in the draft with proper coaching.

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