Former Florida State Seminoles running back James Wilder Jr. was arrested for the third time in as many years on Sunday evening. According to Tallahassee.com's Natalie Pierre, Wilder was driving with knowledge of a suspended license and was taken into custody at 7:21 p.m. in Tampa, then posted bond at $1,000 early Monday morning.
This was the third such legal situation for Wilder in driving with a suspended license alone, occurring in his hometown after a recent visit with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday.
Wilder didn't appear in court after being cited for a suspended license in Tallahassee in January 2013, and was cited in Tampa in February for driving with knowledge of a suspended license. That culminated in a bench warrant being issued and Wilder's subsequent Sunday arrest.
With this latest legal run-in, Wilder is doing himself no favors in what will be an uphill battle to be drafted at this point. One positive is that Wilder, after running a rather poor 4.86 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, redeemed himself with a strong pro day, per Pierre:
Much better starts in the 40 from James Wilder Jr. today. Looks like he's moving MUCH better than he did at the combine.— Natalie Pierre (@Natalie_Pierre) March 18, 2014
James Wilder Jr. said he was overweight at the combine (233 lbs). Said he felt better weighing 227 today. Was told he ran around 4.56 in 40.— Natalie Pierre (@Natalie_Pierre) March 18, 2014
Bleacher Report's Michael Schottey was not impressed with Wilder's display in Indianapolis:
James Wilder Jr. literally doesn’t look like he trained for the 40, at all. Really bad start, awkward transition into stride...— Michael Schottey (@Schottey) February 23, 2014
Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher felt that talent evaluators would get a clearer picture of who Wilder was at the pro day, as reported by Pierre on March 18:
I personally think you see more of who the guy really is (during Pro Day), because he’s in an atmosphere and environment that he’s used to and he’s comfortable. I think you don’t see as many nerves and things as you would see at a combine. Plus, they’ve already been through it once so the second time through it they send to do better.
Where should James Wilder Jr. be drafted?
At 6'2" and 229 pounds, the 22-year-old Wilder figures to be an intriguing project as an NFL prospect. He declared for the 2014 draft following his junior campaign in which the Seminoles won the BCS national championship. It was an interesting decision, since Wilder registered just 81 carries in 2013.
However, FSU's backfield was stacked with the likes of Devonta Freeman and Karlos Williams getting more carries. There is little doubt that Wilder has the talent to excel at the professional level, and the lack of mileage on him actually works to his benefit.
The big concern is whether or not Wilder can stay in trouble away from the field. With the short shelf life running backs have in the modern era, it wasn't likely that Wilder would be much more than a mid-round prospect at best, especially since he didn't have a great chance to prove himself on the field at Florida State.
Character concerns can extinguish a player's opportunity to even get a legitimate shot to compete in the pros. As long as Wilder can clean up his act, some NFL team will take the minimal risk on him because of his massive size and the talent he flashed in scoring eight touchdowns last season on his limited carries.