Connor Neal | April 17th, 2020
Alex Highsmith, EDGE, Charlotte #5
Weight: 248 pounds
Year: fifth-year Senior
Games Watched: Clemson (2019), Old Dominion (2019), and Buffalo (2019)
Highsmith is probably the best athlete at the edge position in the 2020 NFL Draft. To me, Highsmith is the most slept on player in this class. A former walk-on at Charlotte who was redshirted his first year. It wasn’t until the 2019 season, that Highsmith exploded onto the scene becoming an All-American after posting 15 sacks. He has nearly everything you could ask for in an edge: great burst and a high motor player who is relentless and fearless.
As you can see below, my grading scale is out of 100 and is graded based on 10 skills: first step, bend/athleticism, pass rush ability, block shedding, gap penetration, tackling, pursuit/finish, strength/anchor, outside leverage, and coverage ability.
Make sure to check out all of our other scouting reports here.
|Highsmith has a lethal first step, especially when playing in a three-point stance. He will get two steps on the offensive tackle by the time they get one. One of the fastest first steps in this year’s class. It’s what makes him a special player.|
|On top of Highsmith’s absurdly quick first step is the ability to do it not in just a straight line. He can bend like no other and continue to accelerate while doing so. His athleticism speaks for itself, running a 4.70 second 40, a 7.32 3 cone drill while recording a 33-inch vertical and a 125-inch broad jump.|
|Pass Rush Ability |
|Highsmith is extremely good at putting pressure on the quarterback. His stats from last season back that up after he posted 15 sacks. He uses his hands very effectively, creating great separation between him and the offensive tackle.|
|As I said above Highsmith uses his hands very well. He does a good job slipping blocks, great chopping moves, and a very quick spin move that disorients offensive tackles.|
|Highsmith does a good job of penetrating gaps. His flexibility and bend also play a role in this as he can contort his way through a gap while it’s being clogged by an offensive tackle.|
|He does a good job tackling while moving quickly and doesn’t need to slow down to tackle the ball carrier. I graded this a bit harsh, but that’s because he doesn’t lay a super powerful punch when tackling. That said, he is a trustworthy tackler who doesn’t whiff.|
|Highsmith really shows his motor here. His ability to chase down ball carriers is crazy for being an edge. He doesn’t give up on a play no matter how far away the play may be from him, it’s something I love about him.|
|Highsmith isn’t the strongest edge prospect but he doesn’t get bullied either. He does a good job holding his own position.|
|This isn’t how he wins against the offensive tackle. So for Highsmith, this isn’t a big problem because it isn’t his play style.|
|Highsmith does a great job a standing up and covering. He isn’t your typical edge prospect. He can play in a three-point stance or standing. He can blitz or cover. He can do nearly everything you could want.|
Round Grade: Second Round
Projected Round: Rounds 3-4
Wide Receiver Rank: Tied for EDGE4
Highsmith should be much higher on most boards than he is. If there is one edge prospect who is getting slept on and can have an impact similar to that of Yannick Ngakoue; it’s this guy. He is an athletic freak with quite possibly the strongest motor of all. For more on Highsmith, be sure to check out my interview with him!
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