Karan Higdon, RB, Michigan
40-yard dash: 4.49 seconds (70th percentile)
Vertical: 34 inches (44th)
Broad: 123 inches (81st)
Higdon didn’t participate in the 3-cone drill or 20-yard shuttle at the NFL Scouting Combine or Michigan’s pro day.
Higdon played sparingly as a freshman for a 2015 Michigan squad that went 10-3 in HC Jim Harbaugh’s 1st season. He remained behind De’Veon Smith and Chris Evans on the RB depth chart in 2016 but pulled even with Ty Isaac, who was a year ahead. Higdon ranked 3rd in rushing TDs that year on a run-heavy squad, trailing Smith and goal-line pounder Khalid Hill (10 apiece). Those Wolverines sent WRs Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson and TE Jake Butt to the NFL.
Higdon took the backfield lead in his junior season -- but only by a little. He garnered a 37.6% share of RB carries, averaging 12.6 per game to Evans’ 10.4. Higdon did easily lead the ground scoring, though, tallying 5 more TDs than any other Wolverine runner and owning 42.3% of the total for a team that deployed an abnormal number of FBs.
Higdon delivered 3 games of 150+ rushing yards that season but didn’t eclipse 65 yards in any other. He also continued to trail Evans in receptions among RBs, ranking 9th on the team.
The speedy Wolverine really took over as a senior, claiming 51.3% of the RB carries -- despite missing 2 contests -- for a team that handed to 7 different RBs on the year. Higdon racked up 7 straight games of 100+ yards (8 total) and scored TDs in 8 of his 11 outings. Evans continued to lead the RB receiving, though, more than doubling Higdon’s total with 18 receptions. Higdon again ranked just 9th among Wolverines in catches.
Games watched: Michigan State, Notre Dame, Rutgers, Indiana (2017)
Higdon thrived as a small inside runner in college, winning primarily on speed and agility.
Even though he elected to skip the 3-cone drill and short shuttle through pre-draft season, Higdon’s feet and cuts look solid.
Unlike many other smallish speedsters, Higdon doesn’t look to bounce his runs outside often. Instead, he worked almost exclusively between the tackles.
Higdon runs hard …
But he’s not going to consistently win with power in the NFL.
Perhaps you noticed that there’s no receiving example in the previous section. Higdon caught more than 1 ball in a game just twice in his college career. Both occurrences came in his junior year, and he caught just 2 passes each time.
Higdon tied Darrell Henderson for the 6th-fastest 40 time among RBs at the Combine, and his full workout profile delivered Duke Johnson (90.8%) and Felix Jones (90.5%) as close Mockdraftable matches.
Those are solid names. But here’s the problem: Johnson caught 69 balls in 3 college seasons; Jones grabbed 39 despite sharing a backfield with Darren McFadden and Peyton Hillis. Higdon TOTALED 16 receptions across 4 years at Michigan.
There’s room for Higdon in the NFL, but he reminds me of Wendell Smallwood -- and Smallwood dominated Higdon’s college receiving (68-16).
Higdon will need to WAY outproduce his college receiving to become a significant NFL producer. Betting on that is not wise.