Matt Waldman’s RSP Boiler Room analyzes a vertical route from 2020 NFL Draft prospect Tee Higgins (Clemson) and discovers two opportunities for Higgins to get even better as a deep threat.
Tee Higgins has a tantalizing combination of height and speed. For a big-time college football receiver, he’s a good deep threat. As an NFL prospect, he can get even better.
This performance against Pittsburgh, a team not afraid to play tight man coverage against these Clemson receivers, offers a glimpse of what Higgins can do to improve his vertical game and not lose against tight coverage that gets physical with him late in the route.
The first thing is for Higgins to do everything possible to avoid that late-route contact into his catch area.
It begins with keeping the head down during the break and learning to track the ball later in the break—or at least identify the ball is in the air at the break-point and then turn downfield and accelerate. Once you’re closer to the catch point. At that point, relocate the ball from a vantage point where you’ve had a chance to stack the opponent and keep his arms away from yours.
If this level of separation can’t be achieved or the tracking skill isn’t good enough to wait until later in the route, every receiver must develop an instinctive reaction to the feeling of a defender’s arm on top of their forearm. At this point of his development, Higgins must learn to react to that sensation with a counter move so his arm doesn’t remain under the hand of the defensive back.
If Higgins learns these two skills, he becomes a top-flight prospect at the position who can become a dangerous and consistent vertical threat in the NFL—immediately.
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