The Miami Dolphins have added another skill player to their depth chart in the sixth round of the 2023 NFL draft. Elijah Higgins joins an offense looking to take a major step up this season.
The Dolphins entered the offseason with a need for a tight end following the departures of Mike Gesicki to New England and Hunter Long, who was sent to the Rams in the Jalen Ramsey trade. Higgins is a multi-purposed player who’s shown the ability to play both receiver and tight end.
There’s reason to believe Mike McDaniel intends to use Higgins in the offense as soon as this season. Before his skills are put to use, here are a few things Miami fans should know about the talented young rookie.
Good Size and Speed
At 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds, Higgins has the size and skillset to be a versatile threat on offense. He also has good speed,running a 4.54-second 40 time.
He’s shown the ability to do damage lining up in the slot during his college career.
Addresses Team Need
Going into the offseason it was obvious the tight end position was maybe the biggest hole the Dolphins needed to fill. Gesicki caught five touchdown passes a season ago which was the third most on the team behind Jaylen Waddle (eight) and Tyreek Hill (seven).
It’s likely that Smythe will hold the top spot on the depth chart to start training camp since he was active in 16 games last season.
It’s imperative that one of these tight ends makes a quick impact for the Dolphins if the offense is to excel.
NFL.com graded Elijah Higgins as a 6.20 out of a possible 8.00. This grade projects Higgins to “eventually be an average starter.”
It’s not easy to judge a player on what he’ll do on the field based off pre-draft numbers, but taking a guy in the sixth round who’s projected to be a starter is a safe and strategic move for a player who fits the scheme.
Miami must have put serious thought into taking Higgins, considering they only had four picks to work with in the draft.
Complements the offense
The Dolphins have created an offense around quarterback Tua Tagovailoa featuring players with unique skill sets. It’s obvious that McDaniel is invested making Tua’s job easier.
Tagovailoa battled concussions all season in 2022, rendering him unavailable for the Wild Card game against Buffalo. His health is critical for Miami’s success in 2023 and it starts with him taking less hits.
Higgins will give Tagovailoa a reliable slot target when the pocket collapses with no receivers open.
Higgins’ ability to play in the slot will also allow him to get open considering the deep threat trio of Hill, Waddle and Chosen Anderson.
The rookie showed the ability to make many types of plays while at Stanford such as jump balls, catching in traffic, running after catch and field awareness.
Grateful to be a Dolphin
Waiting to get drafted can be a long process for players especially when they wait until the final rounds to get the call.
Higgins was overcome with emotion when he received the call from general manager Chris Grier and McDaniel.
“Y’all going to get the best from me, I appreciate it,” said Higgins.
It’ll be exciting to see how McDaniel uses Higgins in an offense featuring supreme talent.