Alex Highsmith got his first taste of the NFL on Primetime against the New York Giants. He was nervous going into his first NFL game because he didn't know what to expect, but once the game was over Highsmith knew he belonged in the NFL. In his first game, Highsmith had 4 quarterback pressures, 2 stops, and a PFF grade of 76.2. His first game was 5x more impressive than Bud Dupree's first game with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Dupree went down against the Baltimore Ravens with an ACL tear and the Steelers had no choice but to throw him into the fire. He did exceptionally well starting in 5 NFL games during the 2020 season. He ended the season hurt unfortunately so we didn't get to see a healthy Highsmith going into the Steelers Wild-Card playoff game. Highsmith ended the 2020 season with 48 combined tackles, 30 solo tackles, 18 assists, 5 tackles for losses, 6 quarterback hits, 2 sacks, and 1 interception. That is pretty impressive for only starting 5 games during his rookie season.
Bleacher Report feels the Pittsburgh Steelers breakout player of 2021 will be Alex Highsmith. I tend to agree with them because he should be starting in Bud Dupree's place. The only thing that can prevent Highsmith from having an unstoppable season in 2021 would be if he gets hurt. Let's hope that doesn't happen and he has an incredible season because the Steelers are thin at the outside linebacker position. Bleacher says the Steelers have been a linebacker factory since the 1970s. Every time a star player retires or signs with another team the Steelers always find a way to replace them.
The Steelers prepared for life without Bud Dupree by drafting Alex Highsmith in 2020. Highsmith was one of the best pass-rushers in college by putting up 15 sacks in his senior season with Charlotte. Pro Football Focus ranked Alex Highsmith as the second-best rookie edge-defender behind only Defensive Rookie of the Year Chase Young tells you everything about Highsmith's potential in the NFL going forward.
Bleacher Report feels Highsmith will be the Steelers breakout player in 2021 because he will get numerous one-on-one matchups as a full-time starter opposite of TJ Watt. Since TJ Watt will get most of the attention in 2021 it should allow Alex Highsmith to take advantage and put up incredible numbers in 2021.