All 90 is a Pittsburgh Steelers Now series profiling each of the 90 members of the Steelers 2021 offseason roster.
56 • Alex Highsmith, second-year outside linebacker
6-foot-4, 242 pounds
Acquired: Drafted by the Steelers with the No. 102 overall pick in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Last season: It was a strong rookie season with a quicker-than-expected rise to a starting role for Highsmith, who started the season as the team’s top reserve at outside linebacker before ascending to the starting lineup for the final five games after Bud Dupree suffered a knee injury.
Highsmith played in all 16 games, finishing with 39 tackles, four tackles for loss, five quarterback hits, one sack, one pass defended and one interception.
College: Originally joined Charlotte as a walk-on before earring a role as a redshirt freshman in 2016.
Highsmith broke out as a redshirt junior in 2018, settling a school record with 18.5 tackles for loss and adding three sacks in an All-Conference USA performance.
He topped those marks as a senior, racking up 21.5 tackles for loss and 15 sacks — both school records — on the way to All-American and all-conference honors.
Camp outlook: Highsmith will inherit Dupree’s starting job opposite T.J. Watt after Dupree moved on in free agency to the Tennessee Titans.
Top backup Ola Adeniyi also went to Tennessee, leaving the Steelers without much depth behind their starters, which means the pressure will be on Highsmith to prove he deserves the greatly increased role he’s in line for.
Future: Highsmith will be an unrestricted free agent after his rookie con tract ends following the 2023 season.
The rest of the 90: