Wide receiver seems to be the overwhelming choice of which position the Minnesota Vikings are going to take in the first round of the draft. It is possible that the Vikings decide to go another route with their first pick, though, or even trade back in the draft. If that’s the case, they will need to address the receiver position in another round.
If they pass on that position in the first round, one of the players they could choose to select later on is Colorado State wide receiver Rashard Higgins. He is currently projected to go in the second or third round and the Vikings had him in town earlier this week for a visit and it seems as though he really enjoyed himself.
“Hollywood” Higgins has been one of the most productive players in college football the past two seasons, but his play was overshadowed by the fact he played in the Mountain West Conference. He finished his collegiate career as his school’s all-time leader in receptions (239), receiving yards (3,649) and receiving touchdowns (31).
Vikings needs: The Vikings had the second-worst passing offense in the NFL last season, averaging 183.0 yards per game. They then released veteran receiver Mike Wallace this offseason as a way to free up cap space, but that left them with a lot of uncertainty at the position.
Their receiving corps is filled with unproven players that have shown a lot of promise, but never really sustained any success. They need to bring in a player that has the ability to get downfield, create plays and really excite the offense.
Measurables: At 6-foot-1, 196 pounds, Higgins does not have the ideal size of a true No. 1 receiver in the NFL, but he is not far off. Both Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman have also said that height and weight are not the only things they look at when judging receivers.
Higgins chose to redo most of the workouts he participated in at the NFL Scouting Combine during his pro day. The only score he decided to sit on was the 13 reps of the 225-pound bench press. He improved on all his combine scores, recording a 4.6-second 40-yard dash, 32½-inch vertical, 120-inch broad jump, 4.53-second 20-yard short shuttle and 7.13-second three-cone drill at his pro day.
Analysis: For a receiver coming out of college, Higgins is a pretty good route runner. He sinks into his breaks well and has the ability to come out of them with enough of a burst to create a little extra separation. He has also shown the ability to use leverage along the sideline in order to create more separation later in his routes.
He does need to tighten up on some of his routes and work on releasing from press coverage, according to draft analysts, but overall his route running looks good.
Another thing that is nice to see is that Higgins rarely catches the ball with his body. He understands how to extend his hands away from the body to secure the ball and then bring it in close to him afterwards. He does a good job at focusing in on balls deep down the field and has a knack for going up and getting it at its highest point.
The biggest knock against Higgins is his speed. He does not possess elite speed and that can leave him looking somewhat slow through his routes. He also looked lackadaisical in the red zone from time to time and did not always seem to be a willing blocker during run plays – although he would always get in front of defenders.
Higgins put up a lot of numbers during his time at Colorado State and that alone should land him on an NFL roster. The big question then becomes how he will fit into an offensive scheme. Will he be able to become a team’s No. 1 receiving option, or will he be more of a complementary target?