Flipping the script of nine years ago, the Bengals selected Tee Higgins with the first pick of the second round Friday and paired Clemson's massive big-play wide receiver with LSU quarterback Joe Burrow.
The move conjured up memories of 2011, when the Bengals drafted wide receiver A.J. Green in the first round and quarterback Andy Dalton in the second to jump-start a run of five straight play-off runs.
The 6-4, 215-pound Higgins, a junior who has been one of the most productive receivers in the college game the past two seasons, has hellacious ball skills that produced 27 touchdowns in 37 games and apparently made him the highest-rated player on the Bengals draft board at the end of Thursday night's first round.
The Bengals, who have traded back in the second round in the last three drafts, apparently didn't get an enticing enough trade offer. With Houston tackle Josh Jones and Wisconsin linebacker Zack Baun on the board at positions that interest them, the Bengals went for a guy that was ranked No. 25 on the profootballfocus.com big board.
And many media big boards have Higgins ranked as a first-rounder. At one of the last pro days last month, Higgins ran a 4.5-second 40-yard dash and while he may not be a blazer, he's only 21 years old, has a big-body radius that allows him to make tough catches down field and in tight windows that helped him average 18 yards per his 135 catches during three seasons.
Check out the best images of wide receiver Tee Higgins after he was selected in the second round by the Bengals.
And he has won fans like Bengals all-time leading receiver Chad Johnson.
At the end of the first round, Johnson tweeted "Tee Higgins is game-changing player. I'm headed to bed."
So their first move of the Joe Burrow Era is to get him a big-play receiver in a second round that has produced some of the Bengals best receivers, from Johnson to current two-time 1,000-yard receiver Tyler Boyd.
"Higgins is probably the most complete 'big' wide receiver we've seen come into the league in quite some time," says the Cincinnati-based PFF. "The things you normally worry about with tall wideouts is their ability to get off press. Higgins proved he could do that against two of the best press corners in the country during Clemson's playoff run."
According to PFF, Higgins has produced a receiving grade among the 10 best wide receivers in the FBS in each of the last two seasons with a two-year PFF grade that is the second-best in college football. According to PFF, Higgins is the only receiver to produce a two-year PFF grade above 90.0 against tight coverage.
The Bengals are expecting Green back after missing 23 of the last 24 games with toe and ankle injuries in a season both he and the other staring receiver, John Ross, are heading into their contract years.
Higgins decided to come out early after a season he led the Tigers to a meeting against Burrow's Tigers in the national championship game averaging nearly 20 yards on his 59 catches while scoring 13 touchdowns in 15 games.