GOODYEAR, Ariz. – In the 2016 draft, Rashard Higgins was the fourth receiver selected – by the Browns! Here are the other three: Corey Coleman (first round) and fourth rounders Ricardo Louis and Jordan Payton.
In the fifth round with the 172nd pick, the Browns called the name Rashard Higgins from Colorado State. Higgins left that school as its all-time leading receiver. But his lack of speed didn’t impress NFL scouts. Just as it led to only one Division I offer – from Colorado State.
That was despite being a big-time player at Mesquite High near Dallas, catching 69 passes (10 for TDs) as a senior. He also averaged 17 points a game in basketball as a 6-foot, 154-pound guard.
The first time I talked to Higgins was when the rookies reported in 2016.
“What kind of receiver are you?” I asked.
“I’m a catch-the-ball kind of receiver,” he said.
I loved that. It’s so true. He is a catch-the-ball kind of receiver, which happens to be a very important attribute.
I thought of all this when reports came out of Higgins returning the Browns on a one-year, $2.38 million contract. It seemed Higgins would receive a multi-year deal from someone after catching 37 passes for 599 yards and four TDs this season.
But once again, he was passed over.
Cleveland Browns’ wide receiver Rashard Higgins walks the “red carpet” while quarterback Baker Mayfield takes “photos’ during their Wholesale Cleveland Browns Jerseys touchdown celebration on Sunday. (Cleveland Browns)
WHAT HE’S WORTH TO CLEVELAND
Browns fans know his value. He is clutch, with a special chemistry with QB Baker Mayfield.
Football Outsiders said Higgins snared 37 of 38 “catchable passes” last season. No surprise. He’s a “catch-the-ball” kind of receiver. Not big. Not fast. Not especially flashy.
But somehow, he averaged a healthy 16.5 yards per catch.
It’s hard to believe other teams don’t see more value in Higgins, but good for the Browns and their fans. GM Andrew Berry was patient and brought the 26 year old back on a modest deal.
But this could be a big deal for the Browns.
Cleveland Browns training camp day 14, August 12, 2019
Cleveland Browns wide receivers Rashard Higgins and Odell Beckham Jr. high five during the 14th day of training camp. (Joshua Gunter, cleveland.com)
THE ODELL BECKHAM COMEBACK
Early in Game 7 of the 2020 season, Odell Beckham Jr. suffered an ACL injury. Higgins caught six passes that day and 33 passes in his previous nine games. The Browns and Beckham are hopeful for a strong comeback from reconstructive knee surgery.
Perhaps he will. But it’s worth remembering Beckham has missed 42 percent of his games (27-of-64) over the last four seasons because of injuries. The Browns need depth at that position, especially players who are proven. They have Jarvis Landry, Donovan Peoples-Jones and KhaDarel Hodge in addition to Higgins.
That’s the same group of receivers as last season. Peoples-Jones could take a major step forward in 2021 after his promising rookie year of limited duty. The Browns know exactly what they have in Higgins.
Bottom line for today: Higgins is back and I’m happy.
I bet I’m not the only one.