James Wilder Jr. grew up in Tampa, Fla., where his father is still revered after a standout career with the Buccaneers.Wilder was considered a five-star recruit who played running back and linebacker at Plant High School and was selected to the U.S. Army All-American team as a senior and participated in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.He played in 12 games as a true freshman, averaging 4.6 yards on 35 carries, amassing 160 yards while also excelling on special teams. Wilder's powerful style was on display again in 2012, as he rushed for a career-high 635 yards on 110 carries and scored 11 touchdowns.With Devonte Freeman the primary ballcarrier, Wilder found himself in a battle for carries in 2012 as he also dealt with a shoulder injury and a concussion. With Karlos Williams assuming a larger role, Wilder finished the 2013 season with 81 carries for 563 yards and eight touchdowns and decided to forgo his senior season to enter the NFL Draft.A freakish athlete and exciting ballcarrier, Wilder is an easy prospect to like with his combination of balance, power and speed.
STRENGTHS: Explodes out of his cuts and runs with both power and determination. Flexible with twitchy moves and natural bend to lower his pads to take on contact, showing tremendous body control to contort his frame and keep the play alive. Runs with purpose and leg drive, rarely going down at first contact, and sees the field well to anticipate holes and hit it with forward lean, always getting positive yardage. Will utilize a good stiff-arm to slip would-be tackles.Often played his best in the Seminoles' biggest games.WEAKNESSES: Shared carries while at Florida State, having never been the system's true featured back, so there are some questions as to whether he can be a feature runner at the next level and stay durable, especially with his physical run style (shoulder/concussion issues in 2013). Handful of run-ins with the law during his FSU career.COMPARES TO: Harvey Williams, ex-Chiefs/Raiders--Dane Brugler/Rob Rang (1/7/14)
05/13/2014 - Bengals CFA class: James Wilder Jr., RB, Florida State 6-3, 232: Big, strong back...Not a lot of speed, but is physical and agile....Averaged 4.6 yards per carry on a little more 200 college carries before coming out as a junior... had 81 carries for 563 yards and eight touchdowns for national champs this season...Had some scrapes with the law and once pleaded no contest to a charge of resisting an officer without violence....Father James Wilder rushed for all but 51 of his 6,000 NFL yards in nine seasons with Tampa...Hometown is Tampa, Fla. - Geoff Hobson, Bengals.com