Scouting Report: Tyler Higbee, TE


Will the Patriots look to add a Tight End in the draft to compliment Gronk?

Will the Patriots look to add a Tight End in the draft to compliment Gronk?

NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken

The Patriots have the best Tight End in the game, maybe ever. Gronk has revolutionized the position and shown teams what they can do if they have a mismatch at the Tight End position. After Gronk however, the Patriots are very thin. Scott Chandler did very little to warrant a second year on the team and Mike Williams is more of a glorified Offensive Lineman than a Tight End. Last year, the team did draft an intriguing prospect in A.J. Derby, but he is raw and coming off an injury, so he is a long shot at best. Needless to say, the Tight End position could use an influx of youth and talent, so today we take a look at one of the lesser known, but more intriguing players at the position.

Name: Tyler Higbee (#82)

School: Western Kentucky (Sr.)

Height: 6’6″

Weight: 250 Lbs.


Higbee has a great combination of size and athleticism. He has a well proportioned body with thick shoulders, thin waist, and strong legs. He uses his body and long arms to give his Quarterback a big target with a large catch radius and has soft hands to make even the toughest catches look routine. He is a smooth runner with good burst off the line of scrimmage. Higbee is dangerous after the catch as he has the straight line speed to avoid tacklers as well as the power to run over them.  He is a willing and active blocker in the run game. Higbee possesses all the necessary traits to be a great overall Tight End and a real mismatch in the passing game.


Higbee has dealt with his fair share of injuries over his career, with the most recent being a sprained knee that forced him to miss five games this season. Higbee also had to miss the Senior Bowl due to an injury. The injuries have limited his playing time and experience and there will be a learning curve in just about every aspect of his game. While Higbee is a willing blocker in the run game, he does need some refinement in his technique.  He tends to get off balance, lunging towards his opponent rather than squaring up his opponent and locking onto them with his long arms. Because of Higbee’s size, tacklers tend to go after his knees when trying to bring him down, hence the injury concerns. Higbee also tends to body catch the ball rather than attacking the ball with this hands. This leads to some passes that are deflected away, which for a guy with his size and catch radius, should happen.


So far, my exposure to this Tight End class is limited, but it will be tough for the rest of the class to impress me as much as Higbee did. Higbee shows a good all around game that any team could use. I love his combination of size and straight line speed and while he may not possess great agility, he has enough to get open consistently.  He needs some refinement in his blocking, but his shows on tape that he is willing to do it and he has the raw skills to become an asset in that department. He has limited game experience so he may have some growing pains when he gets to the NFL. The injuries are a bit of a concern as well, but the raw talent is very enticing and I think he could be a great weapon for the Patriots with a little time to get acclimated to the speed and intricacies of the NFL. With this weak class, I think if he is still on the board at 60, the Patriots have to think long and hard about taking him.







57 Responses to “Scouting Report: Tyler Higbee, TE”

  1. Dan Sullivan says:


    Kelly would be a take charge and leader for the offensive line. I like the Coach coming
    back and a guy that is going to take charge on the field. Kelly seems to be dropping on
    ratings so we can probable get him in 4th round.

    • steve earle says:

      Not surprised an OC dips a bit in the ratings Dan and I don’t think it reflects ability as much as position. OT’s and OG’s just as a history get rated higher then all but a few centers. Thing to me is how do you quantify “take charge”. That kind if thing is subjective so does Kelly have more “take charge” then Stork or Anderson? I don’t know but if you tell me he is a better pass blocker or run blocker I can see it on tape, I just can’t see the other.

  2. Bigw says:

    First things he is 6’5 240 pounds and he is the best receiving tight end in this class, ok blocker but not his best skill. New England should take him as a replacement for Hernandez that’s what he is and that’s what he can do. The first pick of the third will be too late for him so they might end up missing him. There is absolutely nothing in free agency for TE so leaves a tough choice for Pats.

    • steve earle says:

      And yet he has all those injuries in his history. Remember Easley? And that CB who’s name is now forgotten both taken in the 1st, both with long injury historys? By my count we are currently two high round picks short, can’t see making it three.

      • Russell says:

        CB- Ras-I Dowling is I think you are thinking of Steve, 2nd round 2011. I believe he’s still in the NFL some were.

      • Freemanator says:

        Easley has looked good so far, and hasn’t had any further problem with his knees.

        And that Gronk guy worked out pretty well. Belichick will continue to swing for the fences by taking risks on guys with injury historys, to get a chance at playmakers who shouldn’t be available when we pick.

        • steve earle says:

          Knees one year, hip the next. Point is he can’t stay on the field. He couldn’t in collage and hasn’t with the Pats. It’s classic “injury prone syndrome” some guys have it some don’t, he does.

        • steve earle says:

          Also, face it Gronk is a once in a generation TE and it’s not like there are not other TE options in the draft like Nick Vannett. Plus if your looking for a Hernandaz like guy a good possable is Tanner McEvoy 6-6 230 SS/WR/QB/ ?TE, Wisconson, later down but good upside. Both these guys stay healthy and on the field for the most part.

    • Russell says:

      I feel Higbee will be on the board late 3d early 4th, if the Patriots want him. I’m much more in favor of Vannett a solid blocker and alittle bigger at 255lbs. bigger hands also 10 1/2″ (Gronks are 10 3/4″)

      • steve earle says:

        Agree, Vannett would be my choice of the two. Maybe not the receiving threat of Higbee but not the injury risk too. And if memory serves he a decent receiver, better then average.

        • Mike Gerken says:

          Vannett is a really good blocker, he probably does not get enough credit in this area. He was not utilized enough at Ohio State as a receiver which is too bad. I am not in love with his athleticism when it comes to creating separation and he needs work with his route running, which is understandable.
          The difference I see in Vannett and Higbee is long term potential. Higbee has rare athletic traits to go with his size and while they might not be fully developed, the end product could be really special. Vannett is more polished as a blocker and is a very capable pass catcher, but his upside is much more limited. I think they both have a chance to be good, but there is something about Higbee that says he could be elite. I get the concern with injuries and it has to be taken into consideration and probably will be for most teams. Belichick has said in the past the 2nd round is where you take a player with the skills to be a top player but has a flaw, Higbee’s flaw is the injury concern. That being said, BB and the Patriots have not exactly knocked 2nd round picks out of the park.
          I just think that if TE is a target, you may have to go earlier rather than later because its a pretty weak class. If I knew I could get him with a 3rd that would be great, but if his name comes off the board in between pick 60 and 92 I will be disappointed.

        • steve earle says:

          @ Mike, Understang you like Higbee alot I guess I just don’t see the urgent need for a TE over other positions. If the need is that great Bill should go after Jared Cook released by the Rams the other day. Yea he cost alot more but a proven TE in his prime. On the other hand if it’s not that urgent need Bill should get someone in the later rounds as a temp fix like McEvoy or even a 7-FA like McGowan. I tend to be the cautious type with early picks.

    • Big w says:

      Higbee missed 6 games with a knee sprain, It seem we want to shoot guys for getting hurt but it seems Gronk has missed more games than any of these guys but fairs much better when it comes his aches and pains.

      • steve earle says:

        Right about Gronk but Gronk is a once in a generation TE, Higbee missed over a third of his games in 4 years and that was against lesser compitition then the NFL. Now I don’t want to shoot guys that get injured just don’t want to draft them in high rounds.

        • Big w says:

          Actually the only games he missed due to injury were his senior year other misses were simply didn’t get on the field. Was a WR at the start off his career was told to bulk up and that’s when he became a tight end.

  3. J H TARBORO says:

    UCLA LB Myles Jack and Notre Dame LB Jaylon Smith may move down the draft boards because of injuries. How far will they fall? especially Smith.

    • Russell says:

      It’s hard to see Jaylon Smith playing during the 2016 season. I would say Late 2nd. Myles Jack could play in 2016, I would say late 1st early 2nd.

      • Trev says:

        No way Jaylon Smith gets out of the 1st Rnd, even considering the injury. Jack will go in the 1st as well.

        • Mike Gerken says:

          I have to agree with Trev here. In a draft that lacks top tier talent, teams are going to pull the trigger on those guys because of their talent and long term potential.

        • Russell says:

          I don’t think there is any why Smith Plays during the 2016 season. So “if” you draft him high you will wait a year to see if he can play. A 2nd round pick maybe, but NO -way a 1st round pick, IMO.
          Jack will likely play in the 2016 season, but I still see him late 1st round.

  4. J H TARBORO says:

    2) WR Will Fuller-Notre
    3) RB Kenneth Dixson-LA Tech
    3) LB Jordan Jenkins-UGA
    4) TE Jerrell Adams-S.Carolina
    5)OT Willie Beavers-W.Michigan
    6) DT DJ Reader-Clemson
    6) QB/S/WR/TE Tanner McEvoy-Wisconsin
    7)RB Dwayne Washington-WU
    7)CB Cre von Le blanc-Florida Atlantic
    7)TE/OG LaQuan McGowan-Baylor

  5. Russell says:

    Patriot MOCK no trades:
    2nd #60- Joshua Perry
    3d- TE Nick Vannett
    3d-(comp.)- DE/LB Ronald Blair
    4th -OL Parker Ehinger
    6th (Houston)- QB Kevin Hogan
    6th-(comp.)- WR Alex Erickson
    7th (Houston)- WR Quinshad Davis
    7th- OL Joe Gore
    7th-(comp.)- RB Keith Marshall
    No way Coach Belichick does not make a trade to get more picks.

    • steve earle says:

      Agree likely Belichick makes trades but where, how many and with who? No one has yet broken his system or gotten it all right yet. It’s fun to guess as long as no one thinks anything is a given.

      • Russell says:

        Well Steve, “if’ Coach trades DE Jones for pick(s) this year, or next year (maybe more likely)I think he still trades his 3d to say the Saints for a 4th-5th (14th in the 4th round, and 13th in the 5th round.)
        I have a strong feeling DE Chandler Jones goes to the 49ers, for a 2nd pick next year, or a 3d (5th in the round) and a 4th (7th in the round) this year.
        Nothing happens until the start of the NEW football year.

        • steve earle says:

          You could well be right Russell I’m not saying your not, just that it’s hard enough to figure who, when and where before adding unknows like trades that may or may not happen. If they do fine I’ll deal with them then. My old brain has as much as it can do just with what we know for sure at this point in time and heck the combine hasn’t even started yet so I’m still going with the mock I did back on Feb 4th until I see more.

  6. Dan Sullivan says:

    First to Celtics Markieff Morris would be a nice addition going into playoffs.
    Trader Danny Make it happen!

    Patriots Mock Draft
    2 Jack Allen C Michigan State
    3 Miles Killebrew SS Southern Utah
    3 Jordan Howard RB Indiana
    4 Fahn Cooper OT Mississippi
    5 Hassen Ridgeway DT Texas
    6 Ryan Malleck TE Virginia Tech
    6 Daniel Braverman WR Western Michigan
    7 DeAndre Washington RB Texas Tech
    7 Tyler Johnstone OT Oregon

    • steve earle says:

      Interesting but why do you think taking an OC, Jack Allen would be our first choice when other arears are in need and that position is well accounted for?

      • Dan Sullivan says:


        The Denver game made it clear to me that the Offensive Line needs some changes.
        I think the Patriots made a strong move getting old Offensive Line coach back.
        I think some quality players in draft would work out well helping the Offensive Line.
        I appreciate your comment on my mock drafts. I look forward to draft every year.

        Take Care

        • steve earle says:

          I enjoy your drafts as well as all the others Dan. I’m just trying to understand your thinking on Kelly? For instance why not an OG like Sebastian Tretola or an OT like Jason Spriggs? I don’t have anything against taking an o-linemen just what makes Kelly the better pick in your mind?

  7. Russell says:

    Another Prospect moving up my Patriot draft board is, DE Ronald Blair 6’3″ 273 lbs runs a 4.76 40 yd. look for him to do well at the Combine.
    Just finished article on players to watch at the Combine,

  8. Jeff says:

    Jahri Evans and/or Joique Bell – would anyone like to see the Pats go after these guys as lower-cost free agents?

  9. Trev says:

    Great work on these write-ups, Mike. I’m a big Patriots draft buff and I’m enjoying your insight.

    • Mike Gerken says:

      Thanks a lot Trev,
      I am glad you are enjoying the reports and I hope you find them informative.

      • Trev says:

        Oh yeah, definitely. I live in WA State and farm out here so I don’t really have a ton of time to research a lot of these prospects. Your articles are a nice summary of these guys and give an idea of if they might be a fit for the Pats.

  10. Mike Gerken says:

    OK, I went ahead and did a quick mock over at Fanspeak (fun site if you haven’t done it before.) I used Josh Norris’ rankings and this is the draft that I came away with.
    Note: The site apparently has awarded comp picks even though they have not officially been announced yet.
    #60-Jason Spriggs, OT
    #92-Alex Collins, RB
    #97-Tyler Higbee, TE
    #128-Bronson Kaufusi, DE
    #176-Marquez North, WR
    #199-Vadal Alexander, OG
    #215-Taveze Calhoun, CB
    #241-Tyler Ervin, RB
    #248-Tyler Matakevich, LB
    #255-Glenn Gronkowski, FB

    Thoughts? That is certainly a draft I could live with.

    • steve earle says:

      Well Mike if Bill does this well start making reservations to where ever SB 51 is supposed to be held.

      • Mike Gerken says:

        yeah, I might just stop there with the mock drafts after this one because I am not sure I can top that.

        • Freemanator says:

          What about this? I get a top 10 player with overblown injury concerns, giving us the best LB corps in the league. I get a round 1 talent at WR who can fight for the ball and has the potential to be a #1 WR in this league, plus a guy later who’s raw with off field issues, but was talked about as a first round talent before the season started. I get your man at TE, and an athletic specimen for Dante to train up to be a future OT, along with another guy later who has RT or G potential. Then I get a fantastic return and special teams guy, with upside at CB and a great third down back and bigger hammer back, who slips due to injury concerns. Plus a flyer guy at DT for some extra depth.

          Use our cap space to sign an experienced Guard, and bring back Waddle for the OT competition, and then try and extend our franchise front three in Jones, Hightower and Collins. Look into any cheap experienced options for corner depth, and see if we can resign Hicks for a decent price.

          Just a shame the simulator isn’t realistic.

          2#60 OLB – Jaylon Smith – Notre Dame
          3#92: WR – Josh Doctson – TCU
          3#97: TE – Tyler Higbee – Western Kentucky
          4#128 OT – Le’Raven Clark – Texas Tech
          5#176 CB – Morgan Burns – Kansas State
          6#199: RB – Kenyan Drake – Alabama
          6#214: OT – Joe Dahl – Washington State
          7#241: WR – D’haquille ‘Duke’ Williams – Auburn
          7#248: RB – Jonathan Williams – Arkansas
          7#252: DT – Antwaun Woods – USC

        • steve earle says:

          @Fremanator, Your right that Jaylon Smith’s injuries are overblown so he doesn’t likely get out of the 1st. As for Josh Doctson the book says he hears footsteps over the middle, that’s instinct not a coachable thing. Doesn’t sound like much of a fit for BB even so he too likely will go before the #92 imo.

    • Russell says:

      Holey smokes, OT/G Alexander #199? 2nd-3d round for sure. No-way Matakevich@248??? 3d-4th round.
      Great article on Higbee, But I’m sold on Vannett myself.

    • Jim R says:

      That’s a mike drop and a Dab

    • J H TARBORO says:

      Nice job Mike G.

  11. steve earle says:

    All the positives sound great but the injury history scares the heck out of me Mike. I think I’d pass on him until lower mid rounds.

    • Ryan says:

      Agreed. I think that the second round is too optimistic, given that we have that he’d be a backup at best and a risky one because of his injury history. I don’t think that we should go tight end until Day Three anyway, although I could stomach taking Higbee in the third.

      • Mike Gerken says:

        Let’s remember, Gronk was coming off a much more serious injury than Higbee. I just think taking a TE that not only compliments Gronk, but could play a similar style to Gronk if Gronk got hurt. His impact on the offense would be greater than a WR would.

      • Ryan says:

        I forgot to add, Higbee also had Brandon Doughty throwing to him. He played with a prolific QB against a weak division, which will inflate his numbers even with the games he missed due to injury. It’s just another thing to factor in with this guy.

        • Mike Gerken says:

          That to me is box score scouting. Sure you want the guy to be productive, but the tape tells so much more than just how many catches and how many yards he had. I will give you that there will be a jump in competition though. The traits though are translatable to the NFL and I think he could have an impact year 1 with unlimited upside.

  12. Jose Marques says:

    my mock, the patriots trade chandler jones for the 3 and 4 round picks to the 49ers:

    2:Josh Perry, OLB, Ohio State
    3:Jerald Hawkins*, OT, LSU
    3:Bronson Kaufusi, DE, BYU
    3:James Bradberry, CB/S, Samford
    4:Jerell Adams, TE, South Carolina
    4:Denver Kirkland*, G, Arkansas
    5:Dwayne Washington*, RB, Washington
    6:Devon Cajuste, WR, Stanford
    6:Deon Bush, S, Miami ´
    7:Soma Vainuku, FB, USC
    7:Zeek Bigger, ILB, East Carolina

  13. Jeff says:

    A solid tight end to play a majority of snaps would be a great haul with pick #60 – the Pats were probably hoping that they would gain that player in Chandler last season.

    Is the following trade a pipe dream? Ninkovich and Bostic for Carolina’s 3rd round pick. Carolina may be moving on from Johnson (they save over 10 mil against the cap by releasing him) and Jared Allyn (sp?) at DE, so Ninkovich could pair with Kony Ealy, and Bostic could provide good depth for the type of fast linebackers that Carolina loves. With 3 picks in round 3, the Pats can get replacements for Mayo, Amendola/Lafell, and Cannon. With free agents at slot corner, running back and receiver, the Pats could use their 2nd to reinforce the offensive line with a player that has a higher ceiling and there roster should be fairly complete with some depth added in the later rounds. I think that’s probably too rich to hope for in return, but Carolina does pick at the end of the round.

    • Russell says:

      Coach Belichick thinks a lot of Ninkovich can’t see them trading him. Chandler Jones however is better trade bait, and easier to replace then Hightower, Collins, Butler…worth a 2nd pick next year, or 3d and 4th pick this year. I’m projecting he’s traded to the 49ers.

      • Jeff says:

        Yeah, I think Jones certainly could get a higher return, and if they know they’re not resigning, a trade could make sense (although they’re likely to get a 3rd comp pick for him, so the trade would have to net a return worth more than a third and a year of services of a really good player in his contract year during a season where the Pats are Superbowl favorites… which I would think would be a first (doubt that would happen) or a high second or a second and more). That being said, Ninkovich is getting older and may be on his way out, so getting something for him wouldn’t be a bad move with the DE depth already on the team (remember Vrabel getting shipped out?).

  14. J H TARBORO says:

    Mr. Gerken, great prospect! a former WR coming into college at 190lbs. now at 260! He has really good hands and his speed is a total suprise and haven’t seen much on his blocking. AJ Derby maybe a tick slower but having an ex QB is an upside, if he comes off injury well and with a year with the playbook, he could be the one to watch.

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