John Hightower has the tools to be great for the Philadelphia Eagles.
One of the more exciting late-round picks for the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2020 draft was Boise State wide receiver, John Hightower. The front office might’ve found a diamond in the rough in the fifth round. Think about it. If the receiver class wasn’t so deep in this year’s draft, there’s a good chance Hightower could’ve been picked on day two. It’s going to be difficult for him to transition to the NFL with the lack of on-field time that he’ll receive this offseason, but he can still make strides and become a solid starter at some point down the road.
Hightower has good size, standing at six-foot-two, and even though some scouts want him to add some muscle to his 190-pound frame, that doesn’t affect his ability to take the top off of the defense. He also has a 38.5-inch vertical which makes up a little bit for his frame. Plus, he’s a solid route runner.
After being a football and track star at Hinds community college, he transferred to Boise State and had two productive seasons. His senior season was the better of the two as he collected 51 receptions, 943 receiving yards and eight receiving touchdowns to go along with 16 carries and 154 rushing yards in 14 total games. His 4.43 speed was on display for the entire year.
It almost feels like Hightower could be this year’s Darius Slayton, who averaged 20.3 yards per catch during his college career at Auburn. Slayton was a six-foot-two and 191 pounds prospect that ran a 4.39 forty-yard dash. Not only that, but his 40.5-inch vertical jump also earned him a shot as a fifth-round pick by the New York Giants in 2019.
Slayton had better marks than Hightower in the broad jump, three-cone drill, and twenty-yard shuttle. He also had the benefit of facing NFL-caliber cornerbacks in the SEC. Not to mention, he had offseason workouts without a pandemic getting in the way. The Giants didn’t have as much competition at wide receiver as the Eagles do heading into 2020. It may be asking a lot of Hightower to put up similar numbers to what Slayton did in his rookie year, but Hightower does have all of the potential to turn into a player of Slayton’s caliber.
What are the expectations for John Hightower in the 2020 Philadelphia Eagles’ training camp?
Expect to see Hightower on the field for a few drives at the start of preseason games (if they happen). He’s competing for one of the last few wide receiver spots and needs to get reps before the season starts if they Eagles want to utilize him in the offense.
It wouldn’t be shocking if he did or didn’t make the team, but many are expecting to see him in midnight green every Sunday. If there are any injuries, Hightower will be asked to step in as a deep threat, so the Eagles may want to avoid overexerting him in the preseason. He’ll be getting a lot of work in during training camp with Aaron Moorehead to make up for the lost time.
Here’s what Philadelphia Eagles fans should expect from John Hightower in 2020.
Hightower should improve as the season moves forward. While he needs to be better versus press coverage and needs to be more physical with stronger corners, he should still get some playing time. Most rookie receivers have those same issues. Boise State used him often on jet sweeps evidenced by his impressive rushing stats so we’ll probably see the Eagles try to utilize him in different ways. His above-average run blocking should earn him some snaps as well.
He’ll also be one of the guys in the running for kick returner this year with the numbers he put up in college. This past season, he returned 26 kicks for 639 yards (24.6 yards per return) and took one of those returns all the way to the endzone. It also wouldn’t be a surprise to see him on the field on punt or kick coverage because of the burst that he possesses.
Hightower should become a solid weapon for this offense and get more and more playing time as the year goes on if all goes well. We’ll probably see more development from him in year two after he gets a full offseason under his belt. Either way, Hightower can change a game once the ball is in his hands. He’s an exciting prospect to keep an eye on moving forward.