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Clemson’s Nate Wiggins is the third cornerback projected to go in the first round range that the 49ers have met with

NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco reported the San Francisco 49ers recently held a top-30 visit with former Clemson Tiger cornerback Nate Wiggins.

According to ESPN’s draft predictor, Wiggins has the highest probability to be selected No. 22 overall by the Philadelphia Eagles. There is a wide range of outcomes for Wiggins, with his ceiling around the 17th pick and his floor at 37.

Wiggins is in the 88th percentile for height but is 173 pounds. His arm length is in the 18th percentile. So, when projecting collegiate players to the next level, you wouldn’t last long if you ignored Wiggins’ frame.

Then, you watch him play.

He’s been dominant two seasons in a row. Wiggins ran a 4.28 40-yard dash and plays every bit as fast. Wide receivers do not beat Wiggins 1-on-1. Will he give up a completion? Of course, that comes with the territory. He’s always in a position to make a play, and he’s comfortable playing in your face or five yards off. That’s invaluable for a defensive coordinator for a versatile cornerback. You can use endless disguises from off-coverage.

One of the biggest gripes about Wiggins—aside from the obvious: how he’ll match up against heavier wide receivers— is his willingness or overall ability to tackle. Per PFF, Wiggins missed a tackle 13.3 percent of the time. Iowa’s Cooper DeJean is 12.2 percent, while Alabama’s Kool-Aid McKinstry is 9.8 percent.

Wiggins made some business decisions toward the end of the season. To me, it looked like a player thinking about his future. There’s enough evidence of Wiggins being aggressive or making a play when called upon. When I watched him, my takeaway was never, “he’s too small for the NFL.”

There’s also his on-field persona. Wiggins radiates confidence. He will stare at the opposing bench after forcing an incompletion. He’s engaged. Wiggins is a second-contract-caliber player. Think Cleveland Browns ($105 million) cornerback Denzel Ward with Jalen Ramsey’s personality. Those are the kind of players you bet on.

It’s important to get another point of view. Not everybody is as confident in Wiggins at the next level, or he wouldn’t be available late in the first round. Here’s Rohan’s take on Wiggins:

Wiggins raised eyes with a blazing 4.28 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, displaying his elite straight-line speed. That, combined with his 6’2 frame and great length, make him an intriguing cornerback in a class with shorter cornerbacks among the top group.

However, my biggest question with Wiggins is his technique in press coverage, as it feels the Clemson cornerback is better suited for a press bail system or an off-coverage-predominant scheme. Why? I have questions specifically about Wiggins’s hand placement when it comes to pressing receivers at the line of scrimmage, where wideouts are able to gain an advantage, creating initial separation on routes.

Now, Wiggins’s straight-line and recovery speed are both good, but I question his fit in the 49ers system as a physical press-man corner, believing other players in the class to be a better fit in that role.

Wiggins’s size is also a bit of a concern, as he weighed in at 173 pounds, although I take his 182-pound frame at the combine as a more realistic playing weight. Still, with the 49ers’ desire to have physical corners that can tackle, that may be a detractor on their board. Ultimately, I think Wiggins is a prime fit in certain systems, such as with the Philadelphia Eagles or even the Green Bay Packers, but question his fit more in San Francisco, and I have an early second-round grade on the corner.

Wiggins, McKinstry, and DeJean are the potential first-round cornerbacks the 49ers have met with.

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