PROS: Has enough snap anticipation ability and quickness releasing out of his stance to threaten the outside edge track and attack gaps. While he likes to dip and rip the outside edge track, he has showcased a decent inside move that is set up with good hand swipes and an effective spin move to get home as a pass rusher. Hands are generally active as he battles to disengage. Hand are sudden, well-timed and well-placed. Plays with terrific effort and competes throughout the rep. Has good play recognition skills and rarely takes himself out of his fit/rush lane. Experienced working for a stand-up role where he will likely project at the next level. Hard-charging and urgent defender.
CONS: Lacks length and it shows up on tape. He battles with his hands but there are times where he just can’t get the separation needed to get off blocks or effectively deploy counters. Also has some issues finishing tackles outside his frame, reducing his tackle radius. Needs to improve his functional strength to enable him to squeeze gaps against the run and he’s most effective when shooting gaps when defending the run. Core strength needs to improve as his lack of balance throughout his rush can cause problems. Frame might be maxed out.
BEST TRAIT - Motor
WORST TRAIT - Length
RED FLAGS - None
NFL COMP - Kamalei Correa
A former walk-on, Alex Highsmith developed nicely throughout the course of his career at Charlotte and delivered a senior season that included 75 tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, 14 sacks and three forced fumbles. Drawing rave reviews from Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and left tackle Jackson Carman, Highsmith was productive when given opportunities to play against top competition. While he lacks ideal size, Highsmith is an urgent defender with enough appeal as a pass rusher and gap-shooter that he projects as a quality subpackage option with the upside of an eventual starter as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. Highsmith should contribute as a four-phase special teamer as he continues to develop his technique.