Vision - Patience is most effective with pullers between the tackles, understands importance of letting his OL set a hook before bursting out into space. Would like to see more consistency out outside rushes to wait out developing blocks, is more confident tucking up between OTs.
Feet/Change of Direction - Hard steps through the hole, runs confident and has ample spring in his cut to break across the face of a tackler. Can string moves together in succession to pick his way through a high traffic area and possesses effective jump cut to bounce a gap when stopped at the LOS.
Durability - Not a grinder and isn't going to be a high volume workload back in the NFL. Smaller frame doesn't provide a lot of success when looking to pound defenders and wear out tacklers. Low mileage on his legs due to predominantly being a timeshare back (took over in 2018).
Balance - Aggression as a runner allows him to negate lateral contact but doesn't have the ability to pinball through heavy hits or keep his pads square when pressing through a crowded second level. Stays upright on his cuts and transitions well with quick feet.
Pass Protection - Does not possess desirable skills in protection role. As a result, faces an uphill battle for a role as a 3rd down back. Lean lower half and does not possess the natural strength to jolt up free runners without conceding a ton of space in the pocket.
Elusiveness - Has great burst out of the backfield. Creative runner who will put a defender on his heels in open space. Not afraid to challenge smaller defenders with aggression but has very good short area quickness and contact balance to slip laterally out of a head up challenge.
Receiving Ability - Has been offered minimal opportunities to touch the football, only a handful of receptions during his time in college. Especially odd, given the team's lack of production at the WR position during that time frame. Fleeting glimpses have offered clean hands as a check down option.
Short Yardage Skill - Does not have great contact balance and is pulled down much too easy in the box when hit with an arm or light challenges. Won't churn the pile despite hard leg drive due to lean, light lower body and general lack of functional strength.
Football Intelligence - Expanded role in 2018 has further refined strong vision skills and understanding of how to set up his blocks. Projection is favorable specifically to gap/power schemes due to high success rate and natural feel for finding gaps.
Effort - Doesn't let his size dictate anything relating to effort. Runs violently and maximizes his abilities when he's provided a crease to hammer up into. Is close to popping a lot more big plays but simply lacks contact balance and power to push through.
BEST TRAIT - Elusiveness
WORST TRAIT - Short Yardage Skill
BEST FILM - Penn State (2018)
WORST FILM - Notre Dame (2018)
RED FLAGS - None
Karan Higdon will bring explosiveness to an NFL backfield. He projects most favorably to a gap/power rushing offense, as many of his chunk plays at the college level came behind such concepts. Higdon shows some nice patience pressing through the LOS and his second level acceleration will enable him to create gashes in the defense, but only if and when his line is able to create consistent creases and holes up front. Won't grind for yards by himself.