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Nate Wiggins Arrives in Baltimore With a Chip on His Shoulder

Clemson cornerback Nate Wiggins (2) defends against Georgia Tech wide receiver Eric Singleton Jr. (13) during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, in Clemson, S.C.
Clemson cornerback Nate Wiggins (2) defends against Georgia Tech wide receiver Eric Singleton Jr. (13) during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, in Clemson, S.C.

As he studied Nate Wiggins on tape, Defensive Coordinator Zach Orr saw a cornerback who played his best when the stakes were highest.

"What stood out to me the most was, in the big-time moments – you're talking about third down, fourth down, end of game, end of half – whenever the ball came his way, he made the play," Orr said. "We expect great things out of him. He plays with a little edge, which we like."

It didn't take long for Wiggins to display his competitive nature during Friday's introductory press conference as he fielded questions from the media. He looked extremely dapper wearing a white suit and Ravens' draft cap, smiling easily as he fielded questions from the media.

However, when asked to describe his emotions over the past 24 hours, the chip on Wiggins' shoulder appeared. He isn't ready to take a back seat to anyone taken in the first round Thursday night. As the 30th pick, Wiggins plans to be the next Baltimore rookie who proves he should've been taken much higher. He was the third corner selected after Eagles took cornerback Quinyon Mitchell (No. 22) and the Lions traded up to take Terrion Arnold at No. 24.

When General Manager Eric DeCosta called Wiggins to tell him he was a Raven, Wiggins promised him multiple times that he got the best cornerback in the draft.

"The draft process, it was crazy but I'm here now," Wiggins said. "I'm about to make everybody pay who looked over me."

Wiggins ran a blinding 4.24 in the 40-dash at the Combine, and his over-the-top ability at 6-foot-1 was part of his secret sauce to being a shutdown corner at Clemson. He competes with a relentless motor, he diagnoses formations and passing routes quickly, and he plays bigger than the 173 pounds he measured at the Combine.

However, what intrigued the Ravens just as much as Wiggins' measurables were his intangibles. They have no doubt he has the size and tenacity to be a sure tackler and capable run defender in the NFL, just as he was at Clemson. Orr noted that Wiggins is still only 20 years old and will add more muscle mass to his frame.

"He comes up and tackles, he comes up and hits; he plays physical, and he's only 20 years old," Orr said. "I was a kinesiology major, and they say a full man doesn't stop growing until like 27 years old.

"He's got a lot of time to grow. We have a great strength staff, nutritionist and everything like that. On tape, I didn't see anything about him being undersized as anything that we critiqued. He flew up, set the edge in the run game, played physical with receivers at the line of scrimmage, came up, tackled, getting the ball off people, so he played like a Raven. We have no concerns about that at all."

Assistant Head Coach/Pass Game Coordinator Chris Hewitt talked X's and O's with Wiggins at the Combine and came away impressed. It didn't take long into their session for Hewitt to realize that Wiggins is a quick study.

"I think I stopped the meeting at like three minutes," Hewitt said. "It didn't even matter. It was over. The guy was so smart. He had all the athletic ability. All of those things were a given. It was all about what was in between the ears.

"That's the only thing that I really needed to know. As far as him having any issues or anything, I'm not worried about that. We're going to get this guy on the field, and you're going to see a great player for years to come."

Adding Wiggins' coverage skills at outside corner to a secondary that already includes Kyle Hamilton, Marlon Humphrey, Brandon Stephens and Arthur Maulet gives the Ravens even more ways to mix and match coverages.

"It's all about the fit," Hewitt said. "How he plays the game, how he approaches the game. It matches what we do in Baltimore. It's about what's in between the ears and how this kid plays, and you see that on tape and how he talks. It's just what he is."

"As soon as you turn on the tape, you're like, 'God dawg, look at this guy go'. They guy's a blur on the field."

Wiggins drew laughs when he was asked about playing cornerback as a youngster.

"I used to play quarterback back in the day," Wiggins said. "I thought I was going to be Cam Newton."

However, Wiggins is now focused on being a first-round pick who becomes what the Ravens expect, and more. He's entering the NFL with plenty of talent, and a message for teams looking for cornerbacks who decided not to take him.

"They're going to see what they passed up," Wiggins said. "They're going to see."

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