Heading into 2017, Browns’ wide receiver Rashard “Hollywood” Higgins might face even more questions than he did as a rookie in 2016. The Browns’ 2016 5th round pick out of Colorado State was one of 4 wide receivers selected by the Browns last year creating both competition and a logjam among rookies at the position. Long gone are the days of giving a player 3 years to develop in the NFL especially at wide receiver after the 2014 class exploded. The window for “Hollywood” to produce at the NFL level is closing quickly.
Heading into last year’s draft, Higgins was generating a lot of buzz after a highly productive collegiate career. However, his combine numbers were pedestrian at best and he saw his draft stock dip a bit as a result. He was rumored to have been a little injured during the process, but there is no way to know if that is accurate. On the plus side, Higgins was among the best route runners in the 2016 class and despite his questionable measurables, he has always been one of those players who plays bigger and faster than his numbers might indicate. One number that still stands out was Higgins’ hand size, 9¾”. It’s a very underrated measurable. Look back at the last few NFL combines, hand size not always an indicator of success, but more often than not, receivers with larger hands – not surprisingly – have performed well in the NFL.
During the 2016 draft, the Browns repeatedly addressed the wide receiver position, eventually selecting Rashard Higgins in the 5th round. The Browns’ top receiver spots were filled by Terrelle Pryor and 1st round pick Corey Coleman, and behind them, the rookies and veteran Andrew Hawkins were left to fight for the scraps. That is without even mentioning Josh Gordon who was due back from suspension earlier in the season but failed to return after more setbacks in his personal life. Out of this chaos, Higgins found himself the low man on the totem pole finishing 9th on the Browns in targets, receptions, and yards, only catching 6 passes on 12 targets for 77 yards. Underwhelming to say the least. He was also 5th among the Brown wide receivers playing only 183 offensive snaps all year.
So where does all this leave Higgins and the Browns in 2017? The Browns have once again stockpiled draft picks and given their history and front office, no one knows what they’re going to do with them. You would assume after taking 4 wide receivers last year, they won’t be spending much draft capital on the position this year, but we’ll see. With both Josh Gordon and Terrell Pryor looking at free agency, it’s possible the Brown’s will be without two receivers currently on their roster. The receiver position could be attacked via free agency and/or the draft. Gordon is probably gone, but you’d think the Browns will try to do everything they can to bring Pryor back after his breakout season. How all of these decisions play out will have a big impact on Higgins.
Barring injuries to players ahead of him on the depth chart, it’s hard to imagine Higgins being an important piece of this offense in 2017. He’s pretty much off the radar across the board except for only the deepest of dynasty leagues. Even then, his shelf life is not very long, if an increase in snap counts doesn’t come this season, it might be time to cut him loose.