Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney was surprised that his former star wide receiver Tee Higgins was not one of the six players at his position taken in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft last week.
Higgins, a projected first-round selection by many entering the draft, slipped into the second round but was snatched up by the Cincinnati Bengals with the first pick of the round (No. 33 overall).
“Everybody 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,” Swinney said recently on “NFL Now” on the NFL Network when asked how Higgins lasted until the second round. “Everybody’s got to make the decision that they think is best for them, and you can ask that question over and over as time goes … How did that guy go this late or whatever? But he’s the first pick of the second round, so I guess, what is that, 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 believes Higgins could have benefited from another year at Clemson and been one of the first players off the board in the 2021 NFL Draft. However, Swinney says he was behind Higgins’ decision to forgo his final season of eligibility and enter this year’s draft following his junior season in 2019.
“I think had he come back, he would have probably been a top-five, top-10 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.”
Higgins finished his three-year career from 2017-19 with 135 career receptions for 2,448 yards and 27 receiving touchdowns, which are tied for the most touchdown receptions in school history with DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins. Higgins departed as the only player in school history to record double-digit touchdown receptions in consecutive seasons.
The 10th wide receiver in Swinney’s head coaching tenure to be drafted into the NFL, Higgins is as complete of a receiver the Tigers have had according to Swinney, who sees a bright future for him in Cincinnati.
“I can just tell you Tee Higgins is going to be an impactful guy the first day he can get on that practice field,” Swinney said. “He’s an awesome young man, but truly as complete a player as we’ve had come out of here at his position.”
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