It is no secret that Western Kentucky tight end Tyler Higbee is one of Acme Packing Company's favorite prospects in the 2016 NFL Draft. Higbee has the length, speed, and hands to make him a deadly receiving threat from the tight end position, and his effort in blocking is unquestioned. Furthermore, Jared Cook's signing with the Green Bay Packers does not preclude the team from drafting a tight end in this year's class; if anything, his presence would allow a young player at the position, perhaps drafted in the middle rounds, to grow into the offense more gradually.
However, Higbee is coming off a knee injury that cost him the last few games of his senior season as well as an opportunity to do on-field drills at the NFL Scouting Combine last month. In Indianapolis, Higbee told the media that he expected to "do everything" at Western Kentucky's Pro Day on March 29th.
Well, that was yesterday, and unfortunately, Higbee was not back to full strength on Tuesday. While he did not run the 40-yard dash or do some of the other typical Combine-style drills, Higbee was running pass patterns and catching balls from his quarterback, fellow 2016 Draft hopeful Brandon Doughty. Reporter Zach Greenwell of the Bowling Green Daily News reports that Higbee put his status at "75 to 80 percent" on Tuesday, which would explain his unwillingness to push himself in the 40-yard dash.
Only two NFL teams were not represented at Western Kentucky's event, but several teams evidently have close eyes on Higbee. The Cincinnati Bengals sent their tight ends coach to scout him, the Rams' GM was reportedly closely watching him, and he told Greenwell that he has private workouts set up with Denver, New Orleans, and Baltimore. One tight ends coach told Scout.com's Jody Demling that he does not expect Higbee to last until round four, so if the Packers want to scoop him up, they may have to do so on day two of the draft.
As for his route-running, take a scroll through this page for several videos from Greenwell's Twitter feed from Tuesday. A few selections are included below.
Doughty to Higbee pic.twitter.com/Y0naoiyqnu— Zach Greenwell (@zach_greenwell) March 29, 2016
Tyler Higbee pic.twitter.com/QDT4stjWNx— Zach Greenwell (@zach_greenwell) March 29, 2016
Doughty to Higbee pic.twitter.com/p6k2AlnNBw— Zach Greenwell (@zach_greenwell) March 29, 2016
At this point, Higbee's consensus value seems to be somewhere in round three, with a Travis Kelce comparison thrown in for good measure. If he is still on the board when the Packers make the 88th overall selection on April 29th, this writer thinks he would be an excellent choice to have his name placed on Ted Thompson's card.