Analytics Expert Names Alex Highsmith Steelers Most Underappreciated Player

The second-year linebacker is looking to fill pretty big shoes for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
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The Pittsburgh Steelers will turn to Alex Highsmith as Bud Dupree's replacement this season opposite of T.J. Watt. 

The second-year edge rusher stepped in as the starter for the Steelers' last five games, recording 48 tackles, two sacks and five tackles for loss in his rookie year. 

According to NFL.com analytical expert Cynthia Frelund, Highsmith comes into the 2021 season as the team's most under appreciated player. 

In an equation calculated from the player's production in 2020, contribution towards wins and salary, Frelund found that the outside linebacker is Pittsburgh's biggest asset for the least money. 

"In his rookie season, the third-rounder made a tackle on nearly 10 percent of his snaps (9.9 percent tackle rate)," Frelund writes. "This was the second-highest rate among edge defenders last season (min. 400 snaps). While I don't expect his rate to stay that high -- with the departure of Bud Dupree, he'll play a higher volume of snaps and have a more visible role that will command more attention -- but I do expect big things to continue."

Frelund listed two reasons for Highsmith being named the team's most under valued player.

"1) In terms of his speed in the first 3 yards traveled, Highsmith ranked in the top 10 percent in 2020; and 2) his hips stayed facing the quarterback even after contact at a rate in the top 15 percent (this helps predict recovery and pursuit of pressure)."

Noah Strackbein is a Publisher with AllSteelers. Follow Noah on Twitter @NoahStrack, and AllSteelers @si_steelers.

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