Cleveland Browns: Which offensive rookies will make the team?
By Joel W. Cade
With the selection of Rashard Higgins, the Browns took their fourth (fifth if you count DeValve) wide receiver in the draft. Fortunately for the Browns they may have saved the best (well second best) for last. The 2014 consensus All-American and Biletnikoff finalist was graded as high as the second round. How then did he fall all the way to the fifth round? Speed, or Higgins’ perceived lack of speed, in part, caused him to fall in the draft.
The Browns drafted Higgins with the 35th pick of the fifth round of the NFL Draft. At Colorado State, he played in a Pro-Style offense and ran a complete route tree. He excels at catching the ball with his hands, high-pointing the ball and winning contested catches. His speed is a concern. He runs routes well enough to create separation but lacks the speed to maintain that separation at the NFL level.
Higgins is polished enough to see reps at the number two wide receiver position. In Jackson’s offense this means getting the ball in space and racking up yards after the catch. His ability to high-point and win contested battles makes him a possibility in the deep passing game. Higgins has the tools to be a contributor on Sundays.
Higgins would be battling other rookies and a handful of veterans to make the team. The wide receiver position is in the midst of a total makeover. Higgins brings the ability to play a technically sound game at receiver but lacks breakaway speed. At best, Higgins compliments Corey Coleman on the outside next season. At worst, he comes off the bench in multiple receiver looks and contributes on special teams.
Verdict: Higgins makes the team either as the number two receiver out of camp or contributes as a possession receiver and special teams player. “Hollywood” is coming to Cleveland this fall.
The Cleveland Browns spent eight of 14 picks in the NFL Draft on offensive players. It was an attempt at restocking the offense after a dismal season and loss of key players to free agency. They picked up four receivers, a quarterback, a tight end, and two offensive linemen. But will it be enough heading into the 2016 season to make the Browns offense effective? Or even mildly mediocre?