The Philadelphia Eagles badly needed receiver help, so they grabbed Boise State’s John Hightower in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft in a potential steal. Here are Hightower’s odds at Mybookie on to win 2020 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year as well as the Eagles’ over/under win total.
Hightower originally attended Hinds Community College for two years before attending Boise State. In the two years at Hinds, he had 31 receptions for 509 yards and seven touchdowns. During his first year at Boise State in 2018, Hightower started four of 10 games, recording 31 receptions for 504 yards and six touchdowns
Hightower was named to the All-Mountain West Second Team at both wide receiver and kick returner as a senior last year. He appeared in all 14 games, making 13 starts, and led the team in receiving yards (943) and touchdown catches (eight) while finishing second with 51 receptions. He averaged 24.6 yards per kick return with one touchdown.
With a Pro Football Focus grade of 73.4, the 23-year-old averaged 18.5 yards per reception in 2019. If you divide the 82 receptions that year by the 8 touchdowns caught, he scored on every 5.85 catches.
On his production in college, Hightower said that his receiver coach at Boise State told them to take advantage of every opportunity they get, and that’s exactly what he did.
“Tried to score every time I would get the ball, run great routes, get open, try to get the ball, and score,” he said.
The Eagles took him with the No. 168 overall pick in the draft. Hightower has blazing speed. He finished 4th in the 400-meter hurdles at the 2016 NJCAA National Championships. His combine 40 time was a solid 4.43, but that was with an extra 15 pounds of muscle he packed on between the end of the 2019 season and the combine.
However, drafting receivers in the fifth round or later is generally a losing proposition. Other than 1990 fifth-round selection Calvin Williams and 2010 fifth-round pick Riley Cooper, you have to go back to Hall of Famer Harold Carmichael, a seventh-round pick in 1971, to find an Eagles’ late-round receiver that’s made any sort of impact in a Philly uniform.
When asked about a receiver that he models his game on, Hightower mentioned new Buffalo Bills wideout Stefon Diggs.
“He’s from Maryland also. He plays great. Great route running. He’s passionate about what he does. I definitely play my game behind Stefon Diggs,” Hightower said.
Hightower is the third wide receiver the Eagles have added this offseason. The team selected Jalen Reagor in the first round at No. 21 in addition to trading for Marquise Goodwin. Hightower probably won’t start year one as he’s slated to be behind Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, Reagor and Goodwin.
Reagor ran a disappointing 4.47 at the combine but most people agree he’s significantly faster than that and put up times of 4.22 and 4.28 at a virtual pro day.
“We want to be fast,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said. “Now, we don’t want to sacrifice going for speed by giving up talent, but at the same time, this is a speed league.”
Roseman said the team wants to feature more of a down-field passing attack in 2020.
“We want to throw the ball down the field,” Roseman said matter of factly. “We don’t want to be station-to-station football — that’s not what coach (Doug) Pederson wants.”
Philly opens the season as a 6-point favorite at the Redskins.