Tee Higgins Won’t Need First-Round Money to Be the NFL’s Newest Star

In a normal draft year, former Clemson standout Tee Higgins may have been the first receiver off the board. Higgins instead waited until the 33rd overall pick in last week’s NFL draft to learn his NFL home.

The Cincinnati Bengals used the first pick of the second round — and the seventh overall pick on a receiver — on Higgins, the 6-foot-4 receiver who dominated ACC defenses the last few years.

Although Tee Higgins won’t receive first-round money, he will definitely cash in later on. The Bengals found a steal and their future No. 1 receiver in Higgins.

Tee Higgins had a historic career at Clemson

Tee Higgins played an instrumental role in Clemson‘s recent success. Higgins totaled 135 catches for 2,448 yards and a Clemson-record 27 touchdowns in three seasons with the Tigers. The 6-foot-4 Higgins averaged 19.8 yards per catch last year and scored 14 touchdowns from scrimmage.

NFL Media’s Lance Zierlein, fittingly, compared Tee Higgins to one of his newest teammates in the pre-draft process. Zierlein wrote he believed Tee Higgins resembled A.J. Green, the Bengals’ first-round pick in 2011 and one of the greatest players in franchise history.

“He’s played all three receiver spots and can be moved around to match up against cornerbacks. His size and “above the rim” talent make him a uniquely dangerous playmaker deep and in the red zone. The transition to NFL press corners will be an early challenge that could take some time to solve, but he’s an instinctive ball-winner whose traits should win out and make him a very good NFL starter.”

Higgins battled adversity even during the NFL draft

New Bengals receiver Tee Higgins enjoyed a record-setting career at Clemson.
New Bengals receiver Tee Higgins enjoyed a record-setting career at Clemson. | Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

Tee Higgins should have spent Friday night solely celebrating his entrance to the NFL. Higgins’ arrival, though, was caught in controversy. ESPN displayed a graphic noting Higgins’ mother Camilla, fought a drug addiction for 16 years.

The network apologized Sunday and told the Washington Post that the graphic “should not have aired” and it “lacked proper context.”

Tee Higgins handled the incident well. Higgins tweeted how proud he was of his mother for turning her life around and he had “no problem” with ESPN showing the graphic.

Tee Higgins previously discussed his mother’s substance abuse issues during the NFL Combine.

Tee Higgins fits what Joe Burrow and the Bengals need

When the Cincinnati Bengals drafted A.J. Green in the first round nine years ago, they gave him a franchise quarterback, Andy Dalton, one round later. The duo combined for five playoff appearances and Green made the Pro Bowl every year in his first seven seasons.

Cincinnati did the opposite last week. The Bengals selected LSU’s Joe Burrow, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, with the No. 1 overall pick and gave their new franchise quarterback his new franchise receiver.

Andy Dalton is now a backup and the Bengals have not publicly announced what they will do with Green. Green missed all of last season with an ankle injury.

Tee Higgins is a polished prospect who can immediately contribute at the NFL level. His length and catching skills, especially on 50-50 balls, will be crucial in the AFC North Divison.

The Bengals had five playoff berths in the first five years of the Dalton-Green era. It may be too much to ask for the same at the start of the Burrow-Higgins era, but the two are welcome additions to a team that has struggled in recent years.