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Alex Highsmith could become the defensive end of the future . . . if Chase Young isn’t drafted

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Marshall v Charlotte Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Alex Highsmith, DE

School: University of North Carolina - Charlotte | Conference: Conference USA

College Experience: RS Senior | Age: 22

Height / Weight: 6’3” / 248 lbs

Projected Draft Status: 3rd - 4th Round

Player Comparison: Nate Orchard

College Statistics

Player Overview

One might call Alex Highsmith an overachiever. He went from walk-on to record-breaker at the UNC-Charlotte. Despite the program’s short history, he holds the record for most sacks in a game (4.5), season (15), and career (21). He also holds the record for most tackles for loss in a game (5) and a season (21.5). He was the first player from UNC-Charlotte to earn All-American honors and be named first-team All-C-USA twice. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Highsmith was good enough to “play for anybody in the country.” Now, this team captain hopes to join alumni Larry Ogunjobi and Nate Davis in the NFL.

Strengths

· Quick off the snap with speed around the edge and the ability to flatten to the QB.

· Does not take plays off and will pursue the ball, even if not to his side of the field.

· Adept at play recognition and has good instincts.

· Has athleticism to occasionally drop into coverage.

Weaknesses

· Will probably have to put on weight to play 4-3 DE in the NFL.

· Not much strength at the point of attack. May struggle to bull rush or set the edge against the run.

· Lack of power and length makes him struggle to disengage from blocks to make plays, especially in the run game.

· Displays a variety of pass rush moves, but needs to learn when to use them. Relies on his speed too often.

Let’s go to the video tape

How He Fits On The Team

He has the tools to become a good pass rusher in the NFL, and being a former walk-on, will put in the work to get there. The question is whether he can develop the strength and power necessary to play DE at the next level. It flashes sometimes (1:20 of the Buffalo tape), but it has to be more consistent and it has to show up in the run game. If Chase Young is chosen with the second pick, it’s unlikely another DE will be drafted. But, in the event of a trade down, it is possible the team will look for a DE. Highsmith would be an ideal pick if he’s there on Day 3. He would sit behind Ryan Kerrigan and Montez Sweat while he develops his strength and technique. With his burst and bend, he could play the role of pass rush specialist until he is ready to become a full-time starter, eventually replacing Kerrigan at the very end of his career. If all else fails, convert him to Sam OLB. Giving college players a new position is what we do best here Washington, right ¯\_(ツ)_/¯