All the nationwide focus rightly falls on T.J. Watt. But regionally, within the OLB room, the highlight rests on Alex Highsmith. Steelers’ followers know who Watt is, one in every of if not the most dominant defensive participant within the sport. The bar’s set excessive for him every season and he comfortably leaps over it yr after yr. The objective of Pittsburgh’s EDGE rush room is to search out an ideal complement to Watt. That man may be Alex Highsmith, who performed properly in the direction of the top of final yr, and somebody Mike Tomlin praised following Saturday’s apply.
“I expect grown-man, varsity ball and he’s given us that thus far,” Tomlin informed reporters through a crew transcript. “He’s highly motivated and highly conditioned. He’s excited about taking the step.”
Highsmith enters yr three making an attempt to hit the double-digit sack mark, revealing in interviews in the course of the offseason he desires to no less than attain ten sacks. He completed 2021 with six of them however obtained scorching down the stretch, choosing up 4 of his remaining 4 video games together with the Wild Card loss to Kansas City. A groin damage bothered him within the first-half of the yr however good well being down the stretch showcased the participant he may be. Highsmith has additionally been strong in opposition to the run, chasing the ball bottom and dealing off blocks. His largest space of enchancment there’s not giving up the sting and dishonest to beat blocks to the within.
As a move rusher, he can create a extra centered move rush plan. Highsmith has as many instruments within the toolbelt as any participant on the crew. Getting nice at say, three of these strikes would make him a extra refined participant. James Harrison didn’t want a dozen strikes to get to the quarterback. If Highsmith can primarily use say, his rip/velocity rush, his inside spin, and his bull, he’ll develop into a greater move rusher. So far, Highsmith has loved a robust camp. Perhaps not fairly as spectacular as his elite efficiency final yr however Highsmith has been pushing LT Dan Moore Jr. every day, every successful their justifiable share of battles.
A giant Year Three from Highsmith will make an ideal Steelers’ move rush even higher. And maybe get the crew to 60 sacks, a quantity that’s eluded them the previous 5 years. A giant yr from him might put him in-line for a payday subsequent summer time, although projecting his precise worth is hard to do that far out. 2023 will mark the ultimate yr of his rookie deal.