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Bengals earn solid grades for Tee Higgins pick

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Higgins was viewed as a very nice selection for the Bengals.

College Football Playoff National Championship - Clemson v LSU Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

With the first pick of the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals selected Clemson wide receiver, Tee Higgins.

The First-Team All-ACC receiver hauled in 59 catches for 1,167 yards and 13 touchdowns for the Clemson Tigers last season and played in two national championship games while winning one in his college career.

With the 6-4 receiver, the Bengals fit a glaring need and gave first overall pick Joe Burrow a huge target. On paper, it looks like a really nice pick, but what do the experts have to say?

CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso gave the pick an ‘A+’ grade:

Higgins did not the have the best pre-draft process but he still possesses a lot of talent. There are some injury concerns but few are better down the field when healthy. Cincinnati now has A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd and Higgins along with Joe Mixon in the backfield to pair with rookie quarterback Joe Burrow.

Chris Trapasso gives the pick an ‘A+’: “Bengals get the premier rebounder in the class. Separation good enough. Deceptive after the catch. Gigantic catch radius. Perfect apprentice to A.J. Green.”

Bleacher Report’s Mike Tanier gave an in-depth breakdown and graded the pick as a ‘B+.’

Speed and Quickness: B. Higgins is a size-speed specimen who catches some defenders in off coverage by surprise by hitting an extra gear off the snap. He isn’t shifty, though.

Routes and Releases: A-. Higgins possesses an inside release which, with his size, creates a positioning advantage for slants and in-breaking routes. He’s very good at snapping off short outs and quick slants. He varies speeds in the open field and can pinwheel safeties with crafty double-moves. But separation was an issue in college against elite cornerbacks such as Jeff Okudah.

Hands: A+/B-.Higgins has an exceptional catch radius and ability to bring down contested and deflected balls. He once went horizontal to keep one toe in on a sideline grab vs. Virginia. As with many collegiate receivers, he suffers from focus drops.

YAC Potential: B. He’s a big, fast dude who will house it if he turns upfield. But Higgins can be corralled on screens.

Blocking and such: C. He’s a “catch the defender” blocker.

The current Bengals receiving corps of A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd and John Ross III looks good on paper, but Green has played only nine games in the last two seasons, and Ross has battled injuries and inconsistency for his entire career. Joe Burrow needs some reliable weapons to call his own.

Higgins projects as a possession receiver and a mismatch target at the NFL level. Sammy Watkins was a better prospect leaving Clemson, but Higgins may be a similar pro: dangerous when facing soft coverage and/or a second-tier cornerback, but ordinary if asked to be the first option in a passing game. If Green can still provide some juice and Boyd remains a steady producer, Higgins should be fine.

Grade: B+

Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer gave the pick as ‘A.’

After getting QB Joe Burrow in the first round, the Bengals get some big-time help for him while also complementing A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd. Higgins is a dangerous, all-around playmaker who can be a force in the red zone at 6-4, 216 pounds. He posted 59 receptions for 1,167 yards and 13 TDs in 15 games last season. He also rushed for a 36-yard score against LSU in the College Football Playoff national championship game

Grade: A

For the folks at BengalWire, this pick was only worthy of a ‘B’ grade.

Chris Rolling of BengalsWire explained the grade by writing, “One could argue Denzel Mims or Michael Pittman were better wideout prospects on the board. There were also massive talents at safety (Xavier McKinney), defensive line (Ross Blacklock) and offensive line (Josh Jones). Wideout is also arguably the deepest position in the draft.”

While he makes a fair point about players such as McKinney or Blacklock, it’s hard not to go with a wide receiver in Higgins who has thrived on the biggest stage in college football and shows Burrow the team is serious about making the team around him better.