ESPN’s Rivers McCown released his list of the top-25 prospects in the NFL on Sunday, which focuses on players that could surprise NFL fans and emerge as household names throughout the upcoming season despite not being taken in the first round of their respective draft.
Two Steelers landed on the list: linebacker Alex Highsmith at no. 5 and offensive lineman Kevin Dotson at no. 6.
Highsmith was able to receive a much more significant role on the Pittsburgh defense last season after linebacker injuries plagued the defense throughout the season. With five starts under his belt as he enters his sophomore campaign, McCown sees Highsmith growing this season. He recorded two sacks and had 44 total tackles in 2020, but might have made his biggest impact against Baltimore when he picked off Lamar Jackson deep in Ravens’ territory.
McCown thinks that with Bud Dupree, who Highsmith replaced following his ACL injury, now in Tennessee, the Charlotte product has a chance to step up and prove to be a more trusted part of the Steelers’ defense.
Pittsburgh’s offensive line has been the talk of the offseason in most cases, but McCown envisions that Dotson can play an integral part in turning the line around. After impressing last year in his four starts, Dotson can make a real impact at left guard during the 2021 season due to his pass blocking. He also needs to be a leader, according to McCown, due to the retirement of Maurkice Pouncey.
New England running back Damien Harris topped the list with Saints’ tight end Adam Trautman and Ravens’ defensive lineman Justin Madubuike rounding out the top three.