ARIZONA CARDINALS

Cardinals’ Elijah Higgins’ rookie season of transition between teams, positions

Dec 23, 2023, 11:34 AM

Elijah Higgins...

Elijah Higgins speaks to the media during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 03, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Arizona Cardinals tight end Elijah Higgins has had to manage a rookie season between two franchises while adapting to life at a new position.

A receiver at Stanford, Higgins was selected in the sixth round of the NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins, but his tenure there was short. Miami waived him on Aug. 29 in the cutdown to 53 players, and he was a Cardinal the following day. In Arizona he was reunited with his college teammate, wide receiver Michael Wilson.

Higgins is starting to play more after he was inactive for the first six weeks, and he had a career day in Week 15 against the 49ers with four catches, 44 receiving yards and his first touchdown.

“It definitely hasn’t been the smoothest road,” Higgins told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke on Friday. “I think more than anything, coming from Miami to Arizona, I’m just very grateful for the team and the coaches, they were very welcoming. I felt very comfortable here from day one. I felt like I could go on the field and just play my type of ball and enjoy it and have fun. Big shout out to the team and organization and the culture here, because it’s really allowed me to progress as an individual and as a football player at this level.”

Higgins is listed at 6-foot-3, 235 pounds, making him the smallest tight end on the roster but bigger than any receiver. Jumping into the NFL from the Pac-12, especially as a Day 3 pick, is a challenge without changing position groups, and it took a while to acclimate.

He said landing on waivers came as a surprise, and he was not sure another team would pick him up.

“Obviously just the jump from college to the NFL, honestly, I think it’s a mindset thing more than anything,” Higgins said. “So, just cultivating that throughout the course of the season has allowed me to be where I’m at today. Just (I’m) cultivating that mindset, cultivating confidence and playing my game.”

The Cardinals lost veteran tight end Geoff Swaim (calf) for the season after he was carted off the field last week. Arizona picked up tight end Travis Vokolek, so three of the four tight ends on the 53-man team are rookies with second-year Trey McBride the elder stateman.

There is opportunity alongside McBride over the final three games, and Higgins is the next-most experienced tight end on the active roster.

“If you watch the game, and you really pay attention to what’s going on, Geoff is a game changer for us,” Higgins said. “He does an amazing job in the run game, in the pass game as well blocking and helping us with protection. … But we still have him in the room, and that’s probably been the most important part in my growth and I know a lot of guys on our team, too.”

Presented By
Western Governors University

Arizona Cardinals

Notre Dame offensive lineman Joe Alt runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine, Sunday, Mar...

Tom Kuebel

Cardinals could trade up to pick OL prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft

After an impressive showing by the offensive lineman at the 2024 NFL Draft Combine, the Cardinals might have to trade up from pick No. 27 to get a top prospect.

19 hours ago

Rome Odunze...

Alex Weiner

How did Rome Odunze measure at NFL Draft Combine after meeting with Cardinals?

Before taking the field to run the 40-yard dash, Rome Odunze met with several teams sitting atop the draft, including the Cardinals.

2 days ago

Olumuyiwa Fashanu...

Jesse Morrison

NFL Draft OL prospect Olu Fashanu had ‘smooth meeting’ with Cardinals, Jonathan Gannon

One of the top prospects in the NFL draft, offensive tackle Olumuyiwa Fashanu seemed interested in the Cardinals at the NFL combine.

2 days ago

JC Latham...

Alex Weiner

Alabama OT JC Latham met with Cardinals, says playing with Kyler Murray would be a ‘dream’

JC Latham met with the Cardinals at the NFL Scouting Combine, and he was enthusiastic about the prospects of playing with Kyler Murray. 

2 days ago

Quinyon Mitchell runs 40-yard dash at combine...

Jesse Morrison

With Cardinals needing cornerback, Nate Wiggins, Quinyon Mitchell excel at NFL combine

The Arizona Cardinals need to address cornerback and two corners, Quinyon Mitchell and Nate Wiggins, showed out in Friday testing.

2 days ago

Terrion Arnold looks on...

Tyler Drake

‘He did jam me:’ Cardinals’ Jonathan Gannon goes 1-on-1 with Terrion Arnold at NFL Combine

Jonathan Gannon confirmed Terrion Arnold jammed him up during the defensive back's formal interview with the Cardinals at the NFL Combine.

2 days ago

Cardinals’ Elijah Higgins’ rookie season of transition between teams, positions