3 winners and 2 losers from Steelers 24-22 loss vs. Browns
Winner: Alex Highsmith
On the flip side, rookie Alex Highsmith showed that he has a bright future for the Steelers after yet another solid performance from him. While the previous weeks have shown his ability to apply pressure, this week showcased his ability to beat tackles and actually get to the quarterback. His one sack isn’t amazing, but add in the number of times he was in the Browns backfield and you suddenly have an exciting player in the rookie.
It wasn’t like Highsmith was winning against a lowly player either at tackle. He was getting the better of Jedrick Wills, a top pick for the Browns this past season. His rookie season has mostly been positive, so it was nice to see Highsmith have some success against a decent offensive line. Throw in the fact that he didn’t benefit from T.J. Watt on the other side, and suddenly you have an even more impressive performance.
Even with the Steelers likely losing Bud Dupree this offseason, the team should be hopeful that Highsmith can make the necessary improvements as a player to be a true threat as a pass rusher. He has flashed all season, and this week seemed like a coming-out game for the rookie. If he can build off of this next year, the Steelers will likely be one of the best pass-rushing units in the league once more. At the bare minimum, it seems safe to say the Steeler can survive a Dupree free agency departure with Highsmith waiting in the wings.