Pro Football Focus has released their breakout candidates for the 2021 season and believes Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Alex Highsmith is in for a big year.
Highsmith was thrust into the starting lineup following fellow edge rusher Bud Dupree’s season-ending injury, and showed a knack for causing disruption and making plays.
The rookie finished his 2020 campaign with 48 combined tackles, two sacks, five tackles-for-loss, six quarterback hits and an interception. According to PFF, Highsmith recorded 22 total pressures on 224 pass-rushing snaps.
With Dupree likely moving on from the Steelers in free agency this offseason, Highsmith is primed to be the Week 1 starter opposite T.J. Watt.
Elsewhere around the AFC North, PFF likes Baltimore Ravens defensive lineman Justin Madubuike, Cincinnati Bengals tight end Drew Sample and Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to have big years as well.