NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
As I continue my look into the 2016 Wide Receiver class, I realize that while there may not be the top end talent that previous years have produced, there is a lot of players who should make an impact at the next level. Rashard “Hollywood” Higgins was an interesting and fun guy to watch, but is he a good fit for the Patriots? Read on to find out my thoughts.
Name: Rashard Higgins (#82)
School: Colorado St. (Jr.)
Height: 6’2″ (unofficial)
Weight: 188 Lbs. (unofficial)
Higgins was ultra productive in college, putting up crazy numbers over the past two seasons. He is Colorado State’s all time leader in catches (230), receiving yards (3520), and touchdowns (31). He put up these eye popping numbers by being an excellent route runner and having great hands. Higgins is one of the more advanced Wide Receivers in regards to footwork and route running and route concepts. He plays the game very smart. He shows good awareness to read the defense and find the open gaps. He uses subtle movements to get defenders flat footed and off balance. After the catch, Higgins shows quick feet and good change of direction to make defenders miss. Despite his smaller than ideal frame, he shows no fear going over the middle and will fight for contested balls. He tracks the ball well and shows a good ability to high point the ball. When the ball is not in his hands, Higgins shows a willingness to become a blocker downfield.
The biggest concern I have with Higgins is strength. He has a thin frame that looks like it might be close to maxed out. He can be rerouted by physical defenders and I worry about how he will hold up in the NFL. Another concern I have is his speed. He got open in college with crisp route running and intelligence rather than physical attributes, so I worry that he will struggle to get open consistently at the next level.
I could go either way on Higgins. On one hand, he looks like a player who could contribute right away because of his footwork, route running, and intelligence. He is a reliable receiver who will be where he is supposed to be when he is supposed to be, and in the Patriots complex passing game, that is a big deal. On the other other hand, his lack of physical traits may limit his production and his long term upside. I tend to lean towards the former and think he could be a very good player in the NFL. If he can add some strength, he could be a great #2 receiver in this league. Sure, he won’t wow people with his speed, but he just gets open and makes catches, and that is what receivers are supposed to do, right? Round 2 would be a little rich for me, but end of round 3 seems like a good spot for Higgins.