Shortly after Clemson’s loss to LSU in the national title game, Tigers junior receiver Tee Higgins announced he would forgo his final year of eligibility and enter the NFL Draft.
While there were a few critics early, most thought it was one of those “no brainer” decisions. Most of the experts had Higgins as a lock for the first round, despite this being one of the deepest draft for receivers in recent memory.
Then came the NFL Combine, where Higgins chose not to work out, citing a hamstring injury he’d suffered a couple of weeks prior. It was at this point his stock started to slip.
Higgins did work out at Clemson’s Pro Day, and while he has never been known as a burner, his 4.55 forty time still hurt. That, combined with the number of elite level receivers in the draft class, caused Higgins to slip to day two of the draft, when the Bengals picked him with the first pick of the second round.
Dabo Swinney appeared on the NFL Network on Friday and said despite Higgins falling into the second round, he is one of the best wideouts to come through Clemson in the history of the program.
“He’s as complete a receiver as we’ve had come out of Clemson,” Swinney said. “And we’ve had a lot of great ones, but everyone makes their own decisions and evaluations and whatever, and there were a lot of good receivers in the draft this year and to each his own.
He went on to talk about how each player has their own set of circumstances, and that what may be right for one player, may not be for the next, and that being the first pick of the second round is still something to be very proud of.
“Everybody’s got to make a decision that they think’s best for them,” Swinney said. “And you can ask that question over and over as time goes, you know, ‘How did that guy go this late,’ or whatever. But he’s the first pick of the second round, so I guess that’s, what, the 33rd pick? There’s a lot of great football players in the country and for him to be in the top 33 is special.”
Swinney also made sure to note that he was 100% on board with Higgins decision, and that he was ready. However, that doesn’t mean the Tigers head coach doesn’t think Higgins couldn’t have helped himself by coming back for one more season.
“And I think had he come back, he probably would’ve been a top-five, top-ten pick,” Swinney said. “But he was ready and I certainly supported him in that, and I really fully thought he would go in the first round. But he didn’t, he went 33rd. But he’s going to do well.”