NAME: Alex Highsmith
WEIGHT: 245 pounds
Today’s draft prospect profile, looks into a former walk on who became an All American for the Charlotte 49ers. As we will talk about, he has the explosiveness, strength and big hit ability to win in the front seven. There will need to be development in hand usage and pass rush moves. However, the footwork and effort is there, combined with the traits we mentioned earlier. Now, let’s get things started with our breakdown of Alex Highsmith.
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First Step Quickness
From the first game I watched of Highsmith, I was quick to notice how often he jumped out of a cannon. When the ball is snapped, he shows the sudden twitch and drive to get up field. He can get a little reckless with his angles. But, when Highsmith gets going with momentum on his pass rush lane, it is like a freight train coming into the quarterback. Once he figures out his angles in short areas, Highsmith will be just fine.
Pass Rush Counters
His hand usage and counter moves are not the most flashy. Highsmith does his best, when he can swim around opposing offensive linemen. Furthermore, his spin move and inside step has potential. He just needs more timing and consistent separation skills to better perfect those moves. Fortunately, Highsmith has the strength to move blockers out of the way or to the side. This helps to make up for instances when his pass rush counters fail to appear. With that, his feet can become stuck and his power does not resonate with any sort of pop in his punches.
As a run defender, Highsmith wins more with quickness than beating blockers to make a tackle behind the line of scrimmage. His effort showed in this area, as he makes a good amount of tackles on running backs from behind. Just like we said with pass rush moves, his arms and hands do not fool opposing blockers too well. Highsmith is a consistent and violent tackler. Overall, he can set the edge and set himself up for tackles. But, there is a sort of love and hate feel, in terms of his ability to finish.
Generally, Highsmith has played mostly as a defensive end in a three point stance. Not that he cannot thrive there, but his stand up ability is intriguing. In a defense like the Kansas City Chiefs’, Highsmith has the potential to play as a base defensive end or stand up outside linebacker. His hips and lower half are pretty fluid. Also, when getting off of blocks, he comes in at a good angle. Highsmith displays significant drive and can accelerate at a hasty pace.
When Highsmith starts to get going, he will fly through opponents. His explosiveness in his finish can lead to fumbles. His quickness, strength and flexibility all combine to an overall smart and punishing tackling style. His sense of urgency impressed me, and that would combine well with Kansas City’s defenders who are already in place. Consequently, this secondary part of his game is strong enough for him to find a spot on the field early on. Even if his pass rush skill needs fine tuning, Highsmith has the instincts and consistent tackling to thrive early.
Alex Highsmith can fit as a defensive end or outside linebacker in a base 3-4 defense like Steve Spagnuolo‘s. His motor and quickness allow him to play in wider alignments. Meanwhile, this gives him a better chance to best opposing blockers. Seeing his violent hitting style, will make up for his pass rush ability for where it is at right now. In Kansas City, Highsmith could fill and play to the style that Emmanuel Ogbah did this past season.
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– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.