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Steelers Have a Plan For Alex Highsmith As He Develops Behind Dupree, Watt

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a plan for their newly drafted edge rusher but it's not on defense.

PITTSBURGH -- Drafting a special teams player is always underrated, but the Steelers don't feel any differently than adding a skill position. So, with the 102nd pick, their second of the 2020 NFL Draft, Pittsburgh selected edge rusher Alex Highsmith from Charolette. 

Unlike their second-round pick Chase Claypool, Highsmith had a feeling Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert were headed his way at some point. And what they told him is that he'd have an immediate role on their roster.

"I had an interview with coach Tomlin and Kevin Colbert a couple of weeks ago and they talked to me about really being a special teams guy this year; that guy behind Dupree and Watt," Highsmith said. "I'm just excited to learn behind those guy. Two of the best pass rushers in this league, so I'm just ready to suck up everything like a sponge, just learn so much from them and do whatever I can do help this team get back to another Super Bowl." 

Highsmith tallied 15 sacks in 2019 playing on the edge but it took his entire college career to find a position that fit best. Bouncing around Charolette's defense, he moved from the inside to the end position, and will now adjust again heading to Pittsburgh.

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"I know coming into this team, they run a 3-4 so I knew that was the position I was going to be," he said. "That's a position I feel like I can play because I played it my first two years of college. I played 'hand in the dirt' defensive end the past two years but I've been working a lot at my drives so I'm really ready to step into that role." 

Pushing through multiple positions in multiple years, Highsmith didn't get to show off his pass rush ability until his senior year. 

"My junior year was tougher for me. My junior year, I played the four in our scheme that year so it was cover 2 defensive tackle so it was harder for me to get a bunch of sacks that year and press the quarterback," he explained. "But this past year, running a 4-2-5 and really just being an edge guy, I feel like that was the role to help me rush the passer better, get to the quarterback better."

Now, coming from a small school to the city of Pittsburgh and one of the NFL's most historic franchises - especially at his position - Highsmith is ready. 

"I'm ready for the challenge," he said. "Me being from a small school, I don't get as much good competition, but some of my best games the past couple years were against the top five teams we played. I'm excited for the transition. I'll just do whatever I can and be the hardest worker on the team and do whatever I can to help this organization get back to the Super Bowl."