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Nate Wiggins will test the Lions draft scouting priorities

Clemson cornerback Nate Wiggins had a very interesting Friday in Indianapolis at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine. How the Detroit Lions react to Wiggins’ experience in Indy might say a lot about where GM Brad Holmes and the team are at in their evaluation process.

Wiggins is a prospect generally projected as one of the top Lions considerations for their first-round pick in the 2024 NFL draft. Some projections have Wiggins coming off the draft board in the late teens, but he’s typically available in the picks nearing Detroit’s slot at No. 29.

Wiggins officially measured in at almost 6-foot-2, a great length for an outside corner. But he is a rail-thin 173 pounds, some 15 pounds less than Clemson listed him. His arm length of 30.5 inches is the same as Lions starting CB Cam Sutton, who is a little over two inches shorter.

That lack of mass and weird, short-armed build are flags. Whether they are yellow flags or red flags is up to each team, including the Lions. Whichever primary color of the orange the Lions lead likely got shaded by his on-field workout.

Wiggins was the fastest man in Indy. He blazed the 40-yard dash in 4.28 seconds, faster than any other player who has completed the athletic testing thus far. The incredible display of speed came at a cost, alas.

Wiggins suffered a hip flexor injury at the end of the run, ending his workout. He was on the sidelines with a bulky ice bag on his hip while everyone else completed the athletic testing drills.

The 10-yard split for Wiggins was also unusually slow for that fast of a run. He traversed the first 10 yards in 1.59 seconds, a really slow start. For comparison, Sutton had a 10-yard split of 1.52 in his Scouting Combine 40-yard dash, which he completed in 2017 in a total of 4.52 seconds.

Detroit has typically leaned more on GPS timing than 40 times. Those figures are not immediately available, but finishing in 4.28 after that relatively sluggish start means Wiggins was certainly guilty of a speeding ticket in a school zone. That’s amazing recovery speed on the outside, something the Lions secondary lacked more than anything else in 2023. Wiggins proved he’s got the speed to get back into the play if he misses his jam or gets beat off the release.

The speed certainly showed on Wiggins’ Clemson game film. So did the confidence in playing man coverage on an island, something Wiggins intelligently and enthusiastically talked about in his combine podium interview.

Alas, the lack of mass and oddly short arms also show on his Tigers tape. Wiggins is not a good tackler and tends to get pushed around in the run game by wide receivers. Stronger wideouts can overpower him in close quarters and on contested catches. Wiggins is more willing than capable in that regard.

We might never learn how the Lions wind up summarizing Wiggins as a prospect. He could be drafted before Detroit ever picks. But his wondrous Friday in Indianapolis could also be an interesting litmus test for just how much the Lions value different traits.

Story originally appeared on Lions Wire