Up, Down or Stay: Clemson WR Tee Higgins’ Pro Day drops him down rankings

2020 NFL draft
Tee Higgins

Here’s the problem when you have a high number of qualified candidates for a job opening: Anything, no matter how big or small, can knock you down the pecking order.

And that’s precisely the challenge Clemson wide receiver Tee Higgins faces now as he can do little to make up for his subpar Pro Day, one of the last to be held before teams were ordered to cancel travel and one-on-one contact.

The draft is April 23-25.

Higgins comes with elite size. According to Mockdraftable:

  • Height: 6-foot-4, 90th percentile
  • Weight: 216 pounds, 82nd percentile
  • Arm length: 34-1/8 inch, 96th percentile

Those are the measurements of a first-round receiver.

As for the rest? That’s what has scouts and analysts alike scratching their heads:

  • 40-yard dash: 4.54 seconds (Clemson results), 37th percentile; 4.59 seconds (adjusted results), 22nd percentile
  • 10-yard split: 1.66 seconds, 3rd percentile
  • 20-yard split: 2.72 seconds, 4th percentile
  • Short-shuttle: 4.53 seconds, 2nd percentile
  • Vertical: 31 inches, 7th percentile
  • Broad jump: 10 feet, 3 inches: 67th percentile

Only one word can be used to describe those numbers: Yikes.

To be fair, Higgins said he tweaked his groin a few weeks before the Combine, which is why he didn’t participate in drills. Clemson’s Pro Day was held a few weeks later, where he said he re-aggravated the injury while running his 40.

Furthermore, his broad jump of 10 feet, 3 inches is in the 67th percentile.

And Higgins was in a tough spot: Clemson’s Pro Day was one of the last to be held. That meant, healthy or not, he likely wasn’t going to get another shot at any on-field drills before the draft.

So that begs the question: Where do you rank Higgins when you’re customizing your own On The Clock big board?

SB Nation’s Niners Nation offers great advice: Look at the tape.

What the tape shows

Watch any Clemson games from the past several years, and it’s hard not to notice Higgins. His hands and catch radius, physicality and playmaking are what helped him rise up draft charts.

But you also see instances where Higgins’ perceived lack of speed becomes an issue, as he sometimes struggles to create separation. Scouts also question his route-running.

From Jeff Medina of Niners Nation:

“Every year in the NFL Draft, there are prospects who were able to produce at a high level in college, but will ultimately fail to do the same at the next level. And everything about Higgins tells me he’s going to be one of those players. But the fact is, it’s hard to believe. He was amazing in college in terms of how he competed on the field, contested catches, ball skills, physicality, run after the catch.”

But, again, you can’t ignore the speed concerns, which is why Higgins comes with a “buyer beware” label and has likely dropped out of the top-40 rankings.

 

Jake Rigdon (jake@sydwriting.com) covers the NFL draft for Fanspeak and the On The Clock, which is the only NFL draft simulator that allows you to customize and use your own big board while giving you control over trades.


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