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With their third pick of the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns selected side receiver Rashard Higgins of Colorado State. Nicknamed "Hollywood," this selection gave the Browns their fourth receive of the draft, completing the big overhaul of one of the team’s biggest weaknesses.
As a junior last season at Colorado State, Higgins caught 75 passes for 1,062 yards and eight touchdowns. He ended his career as the all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown receptions at Colorado State. He is definitely a highly productive player who will add depth to a position of great need for the Browns, but what exactly is Cleveland getting in their new wide receiver? Lets take a look at the film to examine Rashard Higgins’ strengths and weaknesses.
This play shows Rashard Higgins’ reliable hands. On the play, he runs a fade route to the corner of the endzone. The quarterback throws a little too far, but Higgins is able to grab the ball and make the tough catch over his shoulder. According to Pro Football Focus, Higgins dropped only 11 passes of 171 catchable opportunities over the last two years at Colorado State. He catches the ball with his hands, rather than using his body to secure the pass. He has good eye hand coordination to make tough catches in traffic and while taking on contact. Higgins is a reliable receiver for his quarterback.
Higgins best asset as a receiver is probably his route running. On the play, he is running a five-yard sit down route. But when he sees an opportunity, he makes a great stutter move, freezing the defender, allowing him to easily get past him and get open for a touchdown reception. Higgins is a crisp route runner, running sharp cuts that help him gain separation from the coverage. He uses subtle body movements to fool his coverage and make it difficult to anticipate his direction. He gets low at the top of the route, which helps him transition quickly, changing directions on a dime. Higgins’ route running helps him make up for his average athleticism, allowing him gain separation from the defender.
Deep Ball Tracking/Body Positioning
Higgins does a good job of tracking deep balls and getting into the right position to make a catch. This play shows both of these traits. On the play, he is running a streak route down field. He tracks the ball incredibly well, turning his head to see that he needed to get under the defender to make the catch. He then uses good body positioning to get in position to make the catch. He turns completely around to get square and make the catch. Higgins is not a burner, but he tracks the ball very well on deep routes, maneuvering to get to the right spot to make the catch. He also has good body positioning to be in the best position to make the catch. He shields defenders away from the ball so that he can make the catch away from the defender. Higgins is a smart receiver who seems to always get into the best position to make a catch.
Higgins has really good vision and awareness as a route runner and player with the ball. On the play above, he is running a dig route in the middle of the field. He makes his usual hard cut, but he shows good awareness to run behind the front line of the coverage and nestles himself in the pocket in front of the back end of the coverage. He finds the open window, giving his quarterback a lane to complete the pass. Higgins is able to find the open pocket of the defensive coverage, giving his quarterback a clear window to throw to him. With the ball in his hands, he has good vision to find running lanes to makes yards after the catch. Higgins has good vision and awareness to know where to go on the field to make a positive play for his team.
At just 196 pounds, strength is something Higgins must improve on in the NFL. This play illustrates his lack of strength. He is running a short route to the front pylon of the endzone. First of all his route was a little sluggish, but his lack of strength comes into play at the end. He allows the defender to come through his body, failing to hold strong and shield the defender away from the ball. Higgins’ lack of strength also comes into play in his route running. He can get pushed off his route by stronger corners, which hurts his ability to get open. His lack of strength impairs his ability to be a strong 50/50 pass catcher against strong defenders. Higgins must get bigger and stronger in order to play against the bigger competition of the NFL.
This play shows that Higgins does not possess game-breaking speed. On the play, he runs a streak down field, but he is unable to gain any sort of separation from the cornerback. He does not have the speed to outrun the corner and get space to make a catch. Higgins will not be a burner in the NFL. He will not be able to gain a lot of separation based purely on his speed. His lack of speed also will limit his ability as a runner with the ball. He cannot outrun an entire defense and make huge plays using breakaway speed. His big play ability will be limited a little because of his average speed. Higgins will need to make up for his average speed with other areas of his game.
Higgins is not an explosive receiver who can dominant with pure athleticism. On the play above, he runs a fade route to the corner of the endzone. He is unable to explode into the air and snatch the ball away from the defender, allowing the defender to keep with him and be able to knock the ball out of his hands. He needed to out jump the defender, making it more difficult for the defender to reach his arms. Higgins is just not an explosive athlete. He will not out jump coverage and make the amazing acrobatic catch in the air. His lack of explosiveness will also impair his after-the-catch ability. He does not have explosiveness to blow past defenders and make multiple defenders miss. Explosiveness is not part of Higgins’ game as a receiver.null