Clemson wideout Tee Higgins was projected as a first-round pick in this year’s draft but was grabbed with the first pick of the second round by Cincinnati. Here are Higgins’ odds at Mybookie to win 2020 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year as well as the Bengals’ over/under win total.
The Bengals selected Higgins with the 33rd pick of April’s draft.
Out of Oak Ridge High School in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Higgins was a five-star recruit. He originally committed to Tennessee before changing his mind and heading to Clemson. Higgins also played basketball in high school and was offered scholarships to play college basketball by numerous schools.
As a freshman for the Tigers in 2017, Higgins had 17 receptions for 345 yards and two touchdowns in 179 snaps over 13 games. He averaged a stellar 20.3 yards per reception. The next year, Higgins was named second-team All-ACC. He led team in receptions (59) and receiving touchdowns (12), gaining 936 yards in 550 snaps in 15 games (all starts). In the College Football Playoff semifinal win over Notre Dame, Higgins gained 53 yards on four receptions including an acrobatic, juggling, one-handed touchdown grab against No. 3 Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl. He then caught three passes for 81 yards and a touchdown in National Championship Game vs. No. 1 Alabama.
Last year, Higgins was first-team All-ACC. He had 59 catches for a team-high 1,167 yards (fifth-most in a season in school history) and 13 receiving touchdowns in 550 snaps over 15 games (all starts). Higgins was named Most Valuable Player of the ACC Championship Game vs. No. 22 Virginia after catching nine passes to post ACC Championship Game records with 182 yards and a school-record-tying three touchdown receptions. His third touchdown reception against Virginia tied not only the single-game school record of three, but also represented his 27th career touchdown reception to tie DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins’ career record at Clemson. Higgins became the first player in Clemson history to catch multiple touchdowns in three consecutive games. He gained 52 yards on three catches and scored a 36-yard touchdown on his lone rushing attempt of his career vs. No. 1 LSU in the national championship game loss.
Higgins was the player in school history to record double-digit touchdown receptions in consecutive seasons. He checks in at 6-foot-4, 216 pounds and has drawn comparisons to new teammate A.J. Green due to his frame, catch radius and terrific ball skills. Higgins profiles as a perimeter receiver (19% slot last season) who will do a lot of his damage downfield (14.6 aDOT) and near the goal line. Higgins averaged 3.8 yards per route run in 2019, which was second-best in this year’s rookie class.
The combination of his size, physicality, and contested catch ability make him a mismatch for undersized corners, but he needs to improve as a route runner to reach his ceiling since he lacks elite burst. At his Pro Day, he posted a 31-inch vertical and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.54 seconds, which included an awful 2nd-percentile 10-yard split. Higgins has struggled with physical press-man to date and he’s not an elite separator.
Higgins is great at tracking the ball downfield which can be seen by his 65.2 reception percentage on balls thrown 20 or more yards; that ranked second-best last season in the nation. In the NFL, Higgins is more likely to win against smaller defensive backs because of his size and not because of his ability to separate from defenders.
With Green, Tyler Boyd and John Ross atop the Cincy depth chart, what will Higgins’ role be in 2020? The Bengals may not have 80 targets for him like they did for Auden Tate last season with Green back and Boyd a reliable option from the slot.