Continuing our Green Bay Packers draft prospect profiles, we take a look at Cincinnati’s James Wiggins.
James Wiggins – S, Cincinnati – 5’11, 209 lbs
James Wiggins enters the draft with two seasons of college football experience with the Bearcats. After an extraordinary first year in 2018, Wiggins missed the entire 2019 season due to a torn ACL in the weak leading up to the opening game.
Wiggins faced more injury complications later that season, having torn his meniscus during his ACL recovery, in the same knee.
Wiggins then returned to his 2018 form this past season. Overall, he projects as a late day two or early day three pick. He may be viewed as a sleeper by some (including myself).
Wiggins is 209lbs of steel and granite. He has the prototypical size of a versatile NFL safety who can play both deep, and in the box. Wiggins also offers the option to play nickel CB which is a testament to his athleticism.
Wiggins is a sensational athlete to find in the latter stages of the draft. With a phenomenal 9.78 RAS score, he could rise as early as the early 3rd round. With the size and movement skills generally reserved for first or second round picks, there is a lot of ceiling room for Wiggins to grow into.
James Wiggins is a FS prospect in the 2021 draft class. He scored a 9.78 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 18 out of 764 FS from 1987 to 2021.
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 1, 2021
Wiggins is quick to react to the ball being released from the QBs hands. When back-tracking in man coverage, he’ll really put his foot down and drive forward when the receiver breaks off his route. As a QB you need to throw with great anticipation to beat him.
Wiggins has reliable hands. He came down with 5 interceptions across two seasons for Cincinnati. He had the opportunity to get even more, but it’s still a strong area of his game.
Wiggins is a special teams asset. He returned kicks and punts during his time at Cincinnati, showing he can really be nifty and get moving in space despite his larger frame.
CIN S James Wiggins is long, lean, and athletic – he can high-point INTs and reach over WRs to get the PBU as he does here. He plays around the LOS, as well, using his length to trip up ballcarriers coming his way. #SnapScout21 pic.twitter.com/AGQywQKghi
— Chad Reuter (@chad_reuter) December 4, 2020
For a player of his frame, you’d like to see more out of Wiggins as a tackler. He tackles like a bit of a headless chicken, flying in uncontrollably, and letting his aggressiveness get the better of him. He had a disappointing 19% missed tackle rate in 2020 per PFF.
Wiggins takes bad angles to the ball carrier in run defense. To his credit, he isn’t lacking in determination, but again it’s him being too eager to make a play and ending up costing his team because of it.
The recurring knee injury history is something to monitor with Wiggins. While he still performed this season, helping the Bearcats to a 9-1 record, we are yet to see him return to the heights of his 2018 season. It’s entirely natural for a player to become a little more hesitant following multiple knee surgeries.
Overall, James Wiggins is an exceptional athlete, and his traits alone will keep him from falling far down the Draft board. His athleticism will allow him to fill multiple roles in the NFL.
His injury history will remain a concern for teams but he’s clearly shown the passion to get back to football shape, as seen by his recovery in 2020.
With the Green Bay Packers losing Raven Greene, Wiggins can be that replacement jack of all traits who meets all of Brian Gutekunst’s athleticism requirements and could come in and bolster the second and third levels of Joe Barry’s defense.