Why Elijah Higgins will be the standout for the Dolphins

NFL Combine
NFL Combine / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

With the emphasis on dynamic offenses in today's NFL, the tight end position has grown in importance. When former wide receiver Elijah Higgins announced his move to tight end, many questioned his ability to succeed in the new position. That presented the Dolphins with an opportunity to grab a steal late in the draft. However, with the 2023 NFL season approaching and the Dolphins distinct roster and offensive structure, Higgins is primed for a breakout season.

The Dolphins Offense: Higgins Launchpad

To begin, understanding Higgins unique talents as a converted wide receiver is critical. With a 40-yard dash time of 4.54 seconds and a vertical leap of 35 inches, the Stanford product is an athletic marvel. If Higgins would have been a TE at the combine he would have tied 1st with Hurricanes tight end Will Malory. He finished 14th out of 50 in the NFL Combine in terms of overall athleticism score for WRs, demonstrating his physical abilities. For a player his size, this elite combination of speed, power, and leaping ability is uncommon, making him a potential matchup nightmare.

Higgins unique athleticism will be utilized to its full potential in the Dolphins offense, thanks to play-caller Mike McDaniel's strategic genius. McDaniel, who is well-known for his innovative offensive schemes and ability to tailor game plans to his players' strengths, is expected to make the most of Higgins unique skill set. The combination of McDaniel's play-calling ability and Higgins athleticism has the potential to be a game-changer for the Dolphins, giving them an advantage in mismatches and play designs.

Tyreek Hill and Jalen Waddle pose a speed threat.

Frank Smith, Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle
New York Jets v Miami Dolphins / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

The importance of Dolphins speedsters Tyreek Hill and Jalen Waddle in the offense cannot be overstated. Hill and Waddle, two of the NFL's fastest players, will draw a lot of attention from opposing defenses. Their speed on the outside will force safeties to play deeper, opening up space in the middle of the field for Higgins to operate. As defenses are stretched thin trying to cover all of Miami's weapons, Higgins will have more space to exploit and potentially more targets, but do not fall asleep, Higgins will run by defenders if they do not respect his speed.

Tua Tagovailoa, the Quarterback Factor

Tua Tagovailoa
Green Bay Packers v Miami Dolphins / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

Tua Tagovailoa, the Dolphins quarterback, is known for his keyhole accuracy and decision-making abilities. Higgins will benefit from Tagovailoa's ability to deliver the ball accurately and on time. This will be crucial for Higgins who can outrun linebackers and can out muscle secondary defenders. It does not hurt that Tagovailoa has demonstrated a proclivity for targeting tight ends in critical situations, which bodes well for Higgins potential impact on the offense.

The Function of a Converted Wide Receiver

Despite the difficulties, the move from wide receiver to tight end could provide Higgins with more opportunities in the Dolphins offense. A star studded wide receiver room, would have only had Higgins on the bench. It would have been unlikely the Dolphins draft him if he had stayed as a receiver. On the plus side, his previous experience as a wide receiver provides him with knowledge of route running and catching mechanics that will be useful in his new role. His wide receiver abilities, combined with his increased size and strength as a tight end, make him a difficult assignment for any defense. Look for McDaniel to turn Higgins into a matchup nightmare for defenses in 2023.