Through one week of Cincinnati Bengals training camp, we can safely say Tee Higgins has looked the part of an improved receiver.
As a rookie, Higgins was on pace to have over 1,000 yards receiving last season before Joe Burrow went down with injury. Higgins still nearly crossed the millennium mark before an injury of his own prematurely ended his season as well.
The question becomes just how much better can he get with a full offseason to get ready. Former NFL wide receiver Nate Burleson, now with NFL Network, sees Higgins making a huge leap in Year 2.
After just one season, Higgins is already one of my favorite receivers in the NFL. The rangy playmaker is so much fun to watch. He has a long wingspan and shows similarities to ex-Bengal A.J. Green, who the team let walk this offseason in part due to Higgins’ promising rookie campaign, in which he led the team in receiving yards and TDs. With a confident Joe Burrow back from injury and rookie Ja’Marr Chase playing opposite Higgins, I see a huge leap in Higgins’ numbers this fall. The former Clemson standout is just scratching the surface and still has room to grow, having not yet fully filled out physically at 22 years old.
Bur Burleson didn’t stop there. He also gave him Higgins a glowing comparison to a former teammate from his days in Detroit:
Higgins at this stage reminds me a lot of my former teammate Calvin Johnson, who was a threat early in his career but then transitioned into Megatron after putting in time in the weight room. Johnson’s transformation into a dominant WR is a big reason he’s getting enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend.
It really does mean more hearing the Calvin Johnson comparison from a player who saw firsthand how he developed. It is also a good sign that Higgins has already talked about how he really hit the weight room hard this offseason, which goes to show he is trying to meet that potential. The good news is even if Higgins falls a little short of that Hall of Fame ceiling, he will still be one of the best receivers in the NFL.
Even Tyler Boyd thinks Higgins is on the path of “Megatron.”
Tyler Boyd calls Tee Higgins “the other Megatron.”— Charlie Goldsmith (@CharlieG__) August 4, 2021
Many who watched Higgins in 2020 probably walked away impressed with some of the plays he made as a rookie. However, the team’s Week 16 victory over the Houston Texans was when we saw him look even more comfortable with the offense and NFL game. He made several catches at the highest point in that game, and he just looked like he caught up to the speed of the NFL at that point in the year.
Now going into his second season Higgins will have Burrow throwing him the ball again. He will also be surrounded by Boyd and Ja’Marr Chase, who are both threats in their own right. If defenses also have to start respecting Cincinnati’s deep ball then Higgins could become practically unstoppable picking on smaller defensive backs in the short to intermediate game. He could also tower over them in one-on-one situations, which should be a little more common this year as well.
Burleson obviously has plenty of firsthand experience in the NFL as a receiver, so Bengals’ fans should be hopeful that even him being excited in the young wide receiver is a great sign of things to come for Cincinnati’s newest No. 85.