Tee Higgins listed as Bengals’ breakout candidate in 2021

In the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals made sure to get their No. 1 overall pick a trusty wide receiver to throw the ball to. That trusty wideout was Clemson’s Tee Higgins, who went on to compile 67 receptions for 908 yards and six touchdowns as a rookie.

Higgins had an impressive rookie season, so it was a bit surprising to see Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report pegging him as the Bengals’ breakout candidate in 2021. I say it’s a surprise because Higgins was good in 2020 and proposed breakout players are typically guys who were either okay or hurt for a large portion of the previous season.

Knox explains why he picked Higgins as the breakout candidate with this analysis:

It’s worth noting Higgins wasn’t targeted in Week 1, didn’t have a catch in Week 16 and played six of his 16 games without starting quarterback Joe Burrow.

Higgins could have been a 1,000-yard receiver as a rookie, and he should be one in year two.

While the Bengals drafted Ja’Marr Chase fifth overall, they also parted with A.J. Green, who was targeted 104 times last season. The Bengals should also have a healthy Burrow under center after losing him to a knee injury 10 games into 2020.

Chase will get plenty of attention, and Tyler Boyd remains a big piece of the passing attack. However, Higgins has Pro Bowl potential entering his sophomore campaign.

These are all fair points.

Higgins had games where he was invisible and also played in six of his 16 games without the quarterback he entered the league with. This could have really hurt Higgins but he thrived and made the most of the opportunities given to him as a rookie.

Watch out for Bengals WR Tee Higgins this year.

I liked Knox’s line about how Higgins could have gone for over 1,000 yards and that he likely will in year two. It’s hard to argue against this other than how stacked Cincinnati is at wide receiver, which could take some targets away from Higgins.

The hype for Higgins has been through the roof this summer with both Zac Taylor and Joe Burrow praising him and getting fans pumped for the season that’s ahead. The former Clemson Tiger was a star during his college years and after one year in the pros, Bengals fans know he’ll be one in their offense too.

I expected someone like Jonah Williams to be the breakout candidate on this list due to his injury history or even Logan Wilson, who had a good year last year before suffering an injury. Instead, Higgins gets the nod and no one would be surprised to see him as one of the best receivers in the league when the season is all said and done with.