Jump to content
ExtremeRavens: The Sanctuary

Ravens Insider: Mike Preston: Ravens draft pick Nate Wiggins can be the shutdown corner they need | COMMENTARY


Recommended Posts

When the Dallas Cowboys selected Oklahoma tackle Tyler Guyton one spot ahead of the Ravens with the 29th overall pick in the first round of the NFL draft Thursday night, it basically completed a sweep of the top offensive linemen in the draft.

So, the Ravens countered with another strong move by choosing Clemson cornerback Nate Wiggins with the No. 30 pick.

Besides the offensive line, the Ravens had two other main weaknesses entering the draft: wide receiver and cornerback. Wiggins was generally considered one of the top five at his position in college.

The two-year starter at Clemson has enough versatility to play either cornerback or safety and gives the secondary something it definitely lacked a year ago: speed.

Wiggins can flat-out fly. At the league’s scouting combine in Indianapolis, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.28 seconds. Combined with a 6-foot-2, 173-pound frame, he might develop into a shutdown cornerback, which the Ravens haven’t had for several years.

The Ravens wanted to rebuild an offensive line that had been depleted through free agency with both starting guards, John Simpson and Kevin Zeitler, signing with the New York Jets and the Detroit Lions, respectively. The Ravens also traded starting right tackle Morgan Moses to the Jets in exchange for draft picks.

There was speculation that 10 offensive linemen would go in the first round, and nine were gone before the Ravens were on the clock.

The addition of Wiggins has to help, not only because of his ability but because he gives the team some options. One of the Ravens’ starting cornerbacks, Marlon Humphrey, is coming off an injury-hampered 2023 season in which he missed seven games. His best days might be behind him.

Another starting cornerback, Brandon Stephens, played well last year and turned out to be one of the team’s top defensive players. But Stephens is in the final year of his rookie contract, and if he has another stellar season, he will command a huge payday.

So, Wiggins fits perfectly. He also gives the Ravens the luxury of moving Humphrey back inside near the line of scrimmage or over the slot receiver. That’s Humphrey’s best position, which became evident when he got beat outside several times last season.

Humphrey no longer has the speed to run with outside receivers, but Wiggins does. It’s impossible to teach.

The other things are coachable. Wiggins had 24 pass breakups and three interceptions, including two for touchdowns, in 34 career games at Clemson. According to several draft reports and his film, he has good closing and recovery speed and can change directions well. He played both cornerback and receiver at Westlake High School in Atlanta.

There are questions about Wiggins being strong in run support, but that reminds me of Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders, who once said, “show me a cornerback that can tackle and I’ll show you a corner who can’t cover.”

Wiggins’ size might be a problem to some, but the Ravens have had small cornerbacks who have played well before, such as Duane Starks and Samari Rolle. There have been Hall of Fame players who were “small” for their positions in their rookie seasons but filled out well after a year or two in the weight room.

Besides Starks in 1998, the Ravens have had success with other cornerbacks taken in the first round, including Chris McAlister (1999), Jimmy Smith (2011) and Humphrey (2017).

The Ravens have been hit hard by injuries in the secondary over the past couple of years, but they were able to survive in 2023 with Ronald Darby and Arthur Maulet at cornerback.

Now, they have Wiggins, a player they rated highly.

“We’re very, very excited to draft Nate Wiggins, in my opinion, the best cover corner in the draft,” Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said.

He might be right.

View the full article

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Create New...