Sports Illustrated recently named the most underrated player on each AFC team and they had a great choice for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Conor Orr, a writer for Sports Illustrated, went with Tee Higgins as the Bengals’ most underrated player.
Cincinnati was able to work certain high-low concepts and vertical concepts that forced good defenders to choose between Higgins and Chase. The fact that it was a tough decision is a complement to the Clemson wideout and former second-round pick. Chase’s arrival onto the scene was incredible, but that foundation was laid years ago, with some solid drafting to piece together a worthwhile core around him. Though Chase had one of the best completion percentages above expectation last year, Higgins wasn’t too shabby either, hauling in 1.1% above what was reasonably expected of him. All of this makes Joe Burrow better.
Higgins isn’t just the most underrated player on Cincinnati’s roster, he might be the most underrated player in the entire NFL.
The former Clemson Tigers standout, who is entering his third season in the NFL, is coming off an impressive sophomore season in which he caught 74 passes for 1,091 yards and six touchdowns. Those numbers on their own are impressive, but they look even better when you consider that Higgins was the clear No. 2 wide receiver in Cincy last season behind Ja’Marr Chase. Higgins did all of that damage while fighting for his fair share of targets.
Additionally, Higgins’ 2021 season was better than his numbers indicated. He was the NFL’s leader in Next-Gen Stats’ catch rate over expected (CROE) metric.
CROE measures the difficulty of a catch using various factors: separation from the defender, depth of pass, etc. This stat shows that Higgins routinely made difficult catches more than any other player in the NFL.
The Higgins/Chase combo has to be the most dangerous wide receiver duo in the NFL. Throw in No. 3 wide receiver Tyler Boyd and it’s clear that quarterback Joe Burrow has plenty to work with in Cincy.
Featured image via Kareem Elgazzar / USA TODAY NETWORK / USA TODAY NETWORK