Should Steelers pass on WR Tee Higgins if he falls to pick 49 in the NFL Draft?
The Steelers have some franchise-altering decisions to make later this month. After poor testing, should Pittsburgh pass on Clemson star, Tee Higgins, in the second round?
In years past, it has been easier to narrow down Pittsburgh’s draft needs. With an aging James Harrison and a failing Bud Dupree on the roster in 2017, edge defender was clearly the Steelers target in the draft. Fortunately, T.J. Watt fell into their lap.
In 2016, the Steelers were desperate for a cornerback when they reached for Artie Burns, and in 2018, they needed a safety to play opposite of Sean Davis before they decided to take Terrell Edmunds in the first round.
This year is different. Not only do the Steelers not have a first-round pick, but it’s hard to narrow down which need is the most important. Something that could be on their radar is wide receiver. JuJu Smith-Schuster is entering the last year of his rookie deal, and Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert could look for an insurance policy if he decides to leave.
In addition, Pittsburgh is just three wide receivers deep at the position with JuJu, Diontae Johnson, and James Washington. If an injury were to occur, the Steelers offense – even with Ben Roethlisberger leading the charge – could be in trouble.
Early in the draft process, it would have been a dream for the Steelers to land a player like Tee Higgins. He was a big, young, productive weapon for Clemson’s offense and was slated to be a lock in the first round of the NFL Draft.
However, a poor Pro Day threw a curveball in his evaluations. According to Clemson’s official Pro Day results, Tee Higgins posted just a 4.54 and 4.56 in the 40-yard dash. While this is a number I can live with, his 10-yard split was concerningly low. According to Mockdraftable’s database, Higgins’s 10-yard split was tied for the 10th lowest in Combine history at the wide receiver position.
In addition, many scouts add 0.6 seconds to Pro Day 40 times to make them more accurate to where they would be had they tested at the Combine. If we were to do this with Higgins, that would mean that his official Combine time probably would have been closer to a 4.60 or 4.62.
Clearly, Higgins has some solid build up speed (which explains why his historically bad 10-yard split doesn’t exactly match his below-average speed). Because of this, he could still poise as a threat down the field – especially with his 6’4” frame and 34 1/8” arms. However, he doesn’t exactly jump out the stadium with his modest 31” vertical.
Though Higgins has a lot of good tape at Clemson, the question will be whether or not he will be able to create consistent separation at the NFL level. A big body at the wide receiver position will only get you so far. With NFL cornerbacks running in the 4.4’s, Higgins will be forced to rely on route running and body fakes to create some space.
I’m not going to say that Higgins can’t be successful at the NFL level, but even players like 240-pound Kelvin Benjamin posted better a better 10-yard split and vertical jump. The Steelers could use all the help they can get on offense, but perhaps they should shift their attention to a receiver who isn’t so big of a risk early in the draft.