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Alex Highsmith NFL Draft 2020: Scouting Report for Pittsburgh Steelers' Pick

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterApril 25, 2020

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - NOVEMBER 23: Alex Highsmith #5 of the Charlotte 49ers during the first half during their game against the Marshall Thundering Herd at Jerry Richardson Stadium on November 23, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Edge Alex Highsmith, Charlotte

  

STRENGTHS

—Outside pass-rusher who dominated small-school talent at Charlotte before impressing against Shrine Bowl talent.

—Former walk-on who has worked his tail off to improve as a football player and learned a new position in college.

—Speedy outside rusher who will beat tackles to the corner and then drop his hips and come around the edge with very good closing speed to the quarterback.

—Takes the shortest path to the passer; instinctive athlete.

—Uses his hands better than expected for a small-schooler.

—Former linebacker who knows how to move in space.

—Upside prospect teams might have to invest a redshirt season on but has a high ceiling.

   

WEAKNESSES

—Has never faced top-tier NFL prospects at offensive tackle and beat up on some bad players in college. His film is almost worthless because of who he's lining up against.

—Thin frame at 248 pounds projects to a stand-up role only.

—Built like a basketball player with very thin legs and little power in his base to stack up against blockers.

—Not quite as twitchy as his production and body type would make you think; doesn't blow you away with quickness.

—Would like to see him set up on the outside of the tackle and counter back to the inside; a move he didn't utilize in college.

   

OVERALL

Highsmith's good tape is really good. He dominated to the tune of 16 sacks after moving to a full-time rusher role in 2019, but he's untested against top-tier tackle prospects and will need time to acclimate to the NFL. He projects best to a stand-up pass-rush role, but his new team is getting a lot of speed and a savvy, instinctive football player.

    

GRADE: 70

PRO COMPARISON: Dee Ford/Carl Lawson