4 players who could replace Bud Dupree for Steelers in 2021

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Alex Highsmith (56). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Alex Highsmith (56). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Pittsburgh Steelers lost Bud Dupree to the Tennessee Titans in free agency. Here are four players who could replace him in 2021. 

We knew this day was coming. Steelers pass rusher, Bud Dupree, recently signed a massive five-year, $82.5 million contract with the Tennessee Titans in free agency. After three less-than-stellar seasons for Pittsburgh to kick off his NFL career, Dupree really picked up the pace – setting personal best numbers in tackles, sacks, tackles for a loss, quarterback hits, and forced fumbles in 2019. Last year, Dupree was on pace for another very good season before an ACL tear claimed his 2020 campaign.

The Steelers put a premium on edge rushers as much as any team in the league, and now there are some serious depth issues outside of their top two players. T.J. Watt has been a Defensive Player of the Year candidate in each of the past two seasons, and he will do well no matter who is lineup up across from him, but that may not be good enough for Pittsburgh. With one of their best defensive players now gone, here are four options to replace Bud Dupree in 2021:

Alex Highsmith

One thing most fans expect the Steelers to do is to replace Dupree’s role in-house – more specifically with 2020 rookie Alex Highsmith. Despite coming from a very small football program at Charlotte, Highsmith was thoroughly impressive as a third-round pick last season. He continually turned heads when he had the opportunity to see the field last season, and when asked to fill in for Dupree, he didn’t disappoint.

Despite his splash, however, Highsmith put up very modest numbers – getting to the quarterback just twice on 437 total defensive snaps. There’s no doubt the Steelers are going to get their value’s worth out of their third-round pick, but there is still a question whether or not Pittsburgh can count on him to be a full-time starter in the NFL, and some believe he is best suited to be the team’s third edge rusher. Still, Highsmith seems like a safe bet to fill the void at least temporarily.