Michigan NFL Draft Spotlight: Karan Higdon

This is the fourth of a series of stories on Michigan football players and how their play could translate in the NFL

After deciding to return for his senior season, Karan Higdon has not disappointed in his four appearances. Higdon has rushed for 115 yards or more in each of the last three contest and has a total of 479 rush yards and five touchdowns.

ProFootballFocus.com's Josh Liskiewitz sits down with me and gives his thoughts and draft grades for the Michigan players.

Karan Higdon: 6th or 7th Round

Although Higdon is undoubtedly a great college player, Liskiewitz said he is not exactly sure how his skill set translates to the NFL.

“I go back and forth on him. The way that he finished the year last season was outstanding. He was elusive, he was constantly breaking tackles, whether it was with power or if it was just quickness.

“I don’t think that he has ever been a super explosive guy, and if you look at the Notre Dame game, there are a couple of times where he just missed his hole. Some of it may have been his vision, some of it may have been his lack of explosiveness, his inability to accelerate at a high level. Those couple of runs were really concerning to me in terms of an NFL talent evaluator.”

You cannot afford to miss opportunities in the run game at the next level.

“Your windows, they're so much smaller in the NFL. They’re smaller to begin with and then they close faster.”

Higdon’s best trait is his ability to break tackles.

“He broke a lot of tackles last year and that is the kind of thing that does translate very well.”

For his career Higdon only has 11 receptions. If he wants to be able to make an NFL roster and consistently be on the field, he’s going to have to show that he is a factor in the passing game.

“He has got to produce consistently on third down. He has got to be an effective blocker and he has to be an effective catcher of the ball out of the backfield."

“I don’t think that we’ve seen enough of that and it doesn’t mean that he can’t, but you really need to see that out of him.”

There are examples all over the NFL of how important it is to being a factor in the passing game as a running back.

“Look at Denver right now. They drafted Royce Freeman (3rd round, Oregon) high, but Phillip Lindsay (Undrafted, Colorado) out-snapped him in Week 1 and played very well. They instantly announced that he was their third-down back in training camp when the kid hadn’t even played a down of preseason. Why? Because they knew he could pass block and they knew he could catch the ball. He went undrafted because of his size but they knew because he could do those skills that he could play for them right away.”

“That is how you make it in the NFL because those sixth and seventh rounder they are no different than the undrafted free agents, especially at that position. You better be able to play and offer value right away and I’m not saying that Higdon can’t or doesn’t, but he’s got to make the most out of those opportunities and those kinds of situations.”

Because of Higdon’s size and lack of production as a receiver thus far, he is probably looking at being a late round selection.

“I think that he is probably good enough to be picked in the sixth or seventh round, but that doesn’t mean that he will get drafted at all. You have to show the whole skill set because the way you get on the field is to play on third down and you especially have to do that if you don’t have special traits.”