Right before the NFL draft can be quite a stressful time, especially, for the potential draftees who are under a lot of pressure and scrutiny. One of the first to crack was former Western Kentucky and now current LA Ram, tight end, Tyler Higbee. Higbee got arrested on April 10th and charged with second degree assault, second degree evading police, along with alcohol intoxication. His agent, has let it be known that Higbee defended his girlfriend from another male bar patron. That may or may not reason away a physical altercation, but disregarding the police’s authority and driving while intoxicated are not so easy to dismiss for me. However, I will focus the majority of this scouting report on his college film, as I reviewed his 2015 games against Indiana, Miami (OH) and Marshall to get a better idea of what skills and attributes he brings to the next level. Here are my thoughts:
TE – Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles former Western Kentucky 6′ 6″ 249 lbs.
Perhaps the young man’s first concern is his lack of judgement and timing with his recent arrest. Is he in control of himself? Surely the pressures of the NFL will be more intense than him facing a knucklehead in a bar. This action dropped the tight end down to the fourth round, which is still a bit risky for the Rams when considering that his knees are a bit of an issue. On Western Kentucky’s Pro Day, March 29th, Higbee did not run the 40-yard dash, nor did he do many of the Combine drills, because his knee was at 75-80%. Those same knees caused him to miss five games last season, including the bowl game against South Florida. Also, take into consideration that this tight end only started for one year with only eight healthy games and he didn’t exactly face the highest competition playing in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The new Ram also has issues blocking inline with regard to using the right leverage or delivering power while he blocks. It’s looking more and more like he will be more of a Joker tight end, which doesn’t exactly bode well for his fantasy impact when you consider the recent struggles of Eric Ebron, Jace Amaro and Austin Seferian-Jenkins (whom all resemble Higbee and share some injury concerns).
He has amazing athleticism for a man his size and has the room to put on an additional twenty pounds of muscle without losing any of it. In game film, it seems that the tight end has good straight-line speed with a nice sense of balance that makes him hard to bring down (even when he gets knocked down the new minted Ram bounces back up quickly). Higbee was versatile enough to line up inline, in the slot, or split out; however it is more likely he will get used in the Joker role in LA. The tight end looks to be more of a wide-out with his soft hands in traffic, shielding the ball from the defenders. The former Hilltopper can out-leap his coverage to catch the pigskin at its highest point, tracks the ball well in the air and can run underneath it downfield making the reception in stride. Higbee runs crisp routes, has a good catch radius and will work his way back to his quarterback when he senses trouble. There is a bit of a running back’s swagger to his game when the tight end busts out a spin move, a stiff-arm, or simply lowers his shoulders to run over a smaller defender. He established himself as a red zone threat by scoring in five of the eight games he played.
There are too many character and injury question marks to invest a lot in this young man, especially with the less than stellar Jeff Fisher coaching. When Higbee is on the field, the tight end certainly shows off his athleticism, but how often will that happen? I could take a chance on the former Hilltopper, but not until at least the beginning of the fourth round or lower. He is a riskier player than what I like to get myself invested in, so take that with a grain of salt.
Thank you for reading. You can follow me on Twitter @AndrewMiley.