Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase. That’s been the talk of the offseason.
And rightfully so, to a certain degree. Those are the two top picks of the Bengals’ last two Drafts, and they were not only teammates at LSU, but record-breaking teammates.
Still, it seems to be a given now that Tee Higgins will be nothing more than a complimentary piece.
Higgins, though, appears to have other plans.
The second round pick out of Clemson from the 2020 Draft has apparently reshaped his body, getting both stronger and faster.
Tee Higgins said he is around 220 and feels good. “I feel even faster”— Lindsay Patterson (@LndsPatterson) June 8, 2021
And both his quarterback and offensive coordinator are pleased with the results.
Joe Burrow said you can see a "big difference" in Tee Higgins this spring. Tee has worked on reshaping his body this offseason getting stronger and losing a little weight.— Marisa Contipelli (@BengalsMarisa) June 15, 2021
"We have some horses on offense that I'm real excited about. Tee's gonna have a big year."
Bengals OC Brian Callahan notes that WR Tee Higgins has gotten "markedly more explosive." Said he now knows what to take to get to the next level of his game.— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) June 16, 2021
Higins had an unofficial 40-yard dash time of 4.54 seconds at Clemson’s Pro Day. And that’s not slow. But if he can improve upon that, he might just give Burrow another big-time downfield threat to go along with Chase.
Hometown: Oak Ridge, TN
Experience: two years
Higgins is in the second year of a 4-year, $8,686,785 rookie deal. This year, he will earn $1,004,854 in base salary.
Higgins played in 13 games as a freshman at Clemson, catching 17 passes for 345 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was named a starter his sophomore year, when he totaled 936 yards on 59 receptions with 12 touchdowns. Higgins was part of a Tigers team that would go on to win the National Championship.
In his junior year, Higgins had 1,167 yards and 13 touchdowns for a team that went 14-1 but lost to Burrow’s LSU team. He decided to enter the Draft early, where he was selected by the Bengals with the 33rd overall pick.
His first year in Cincinnati was positive overall. He finished with 908 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns. He had receptions of 67 yards against the Indianapolis Colts and 54 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Higgins had two 115-yard receiving games in the nine games he played with Burrow and another 99-yard performance with Brandon Allen at the helm against the Houston Texans in Week 16.
Outlook for 2021
Higgins didn’t have the most impressive athletic profile (relatively speaking, of course) coming out of college. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have room to grow. Back in April, ESPN’s Ben Baby told us that he thinks Higgins will take a big leap forward in year two and surprise a lot of people. Here’s what he said:
“I think Tee has the potential to be a WR1. I thought he looked really good, and the thing is: he is really young. I talked to his old position coach at Clemson. I remember he told me right after the Bengals drafted him, they said, ‘His rookie year is not going to be anything like his second year, because he’s still so raw athletically.’ So he’s really going to come into his own in 2021. So this is going to be Tee Higgins’ breakout year.”
And recently, Baby reported that head coach Zac Taylor also feels that Higgins is destined to make significant progress.
Bengals coach Zac Taylor: I'm really excited about Tee." Said the switch flipped for him at the end of last season, praised his ability to battle through no real preseason and early hamstring injury.— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) June 8, 2021
So don’t be surprised if Higgins has a little extra burst in his step this year.
99%. Higgins is at least the third-best receiver on the team after Chase and Tyler Boyd. He is a young, gregarious player with plenty of upside and solid production in his first year. He is bound to make an impact this year, not only because of his improved physique but also because defenses will dedicate significant attention to Chase.