When Tee Higgins was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals and chose the No. 85 jersey to be his, a new era of 9 to 85 had been born.
The old 85, Chad Johnson, has been a proponent of the Higgins hype train since it left the station in late April. When asked on Twitter about how good Higgins can be, he put Higgins over himself at this point in his young career.
He’s better than i was as a rookie, people thought he had big shoes to fill wearing the 85, at this point his feet are bigger than mine ®️ https://t.co/Jp6O1ujiEX— Chad Johnson (@ochocinco) November 7, 2020
Johnson certainly had his best seasons when the former No. 9, Carson Palmer, was throwing him the ball, but he played a few seasons in Cincinnati before Palmer took his place under center in 2004.
In Johnson’s rookie season in 2001, he only started three games behind starters Darnay Scott and Peter Warrick and ended the season with 329 receiving yards, 28 receptions, and 60 targets. He began hitting his stride in 2002 and crossed the 1,000-yard threshold for the first time in his career.
At his current pace, Higgins will finish his rookie campaign with a little under 1,050 yards and a starting-level contributor of 15 games. If he hasn’t already established himself as Joe Burrow’s No. 1 receiver, he surely will soon.
Johnson’s praise is as warranted as it is complimentary. He and Higgins are very different receivers, but there’s no denying how productive the 21-year old Higgins has been in just his first year donning the jersey with the No. 85 on his back.