Cleveland Browns: 3 players who need more freedom in 2019
3. Rashard Higgins, Wide Receiver
Originally selected in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft out of Colorado State, wide receiver Rashard Higgins has turned out to be quite the find for the Browns. As a rookie, Higgins saw just 12 targets come his way and he had only six receptions for 77 yards. He was then released in his second year and added to the practice squad.
Higgins didn’t stay there for long as he was promoted to the active roster ahead of their Week 2 contest and he played in 15 games as a sophomore. He improved in every area, finishing with 27 receptions for 312 yards and two scores. As good as that was, it wasn’t anything compared to what the 6-foot-1, 198-pound Higgins showed in 2018.
Showing an increased proficiency in his route running, Higgins found himself in much better position throughout this past season. Despite having only three more targets on the campaign, the third-year wideout had 39 receptions for 572 yards and four touchdowns. His season could have been even better had he not missed three games, and part of another, due to a knee injury.
Where Higgins really improved was in his ability to bring in contested passes. He often gave quarterback Baker Mayfield an option deep on a 50-50 ball and usually came down with it. The best example of this came in their Week 10 victory over the Atlanta Falcons when Higgins made a leaping 28-yard touchdown despite having a defensive back right there with him.
Looking ahead to 2019, it’s easy to forget about Higgins. The Browns added Odell Beckham, Jr. to a receiving corps that already had Jarvis Landry and Antonio Callaway.
Even with the big names, Higgins is arguably their best option to play outside opposite OBJ. The coaching staff needs to make sure not to forget about him with all the big names and unleash the young man who enters his contract year.