Alex Highsmith, EDGE
2022 rank: unranked
2023 rank: 96th
Just looking at the history of the NFL's Top 100 list, it's remarkably hard for more than a couple of tight ends to make the cut. That probably rules out Pat Freiermuth from showing up at the bottom of the list for the first time. However, players who vote have shown a ton of love for pass rushers, and I think that it's possible Alex Highsmith could find himself on the list for the very first time.
In 2022, Highsmith actually outproduced Micah Parsons in terms of sacks (14.5 to 13.5) and forced fumbles (5 to 3). Obviously, there's so much more that goes into the game than raw numbers and Highsmith has nowhere near the same level of dominance to his game. But his production is sure to raise eyebrows.
This could help him find his way on the NFL's Top 100 list for the first time in his NFL career. Highsmith has been one of the most pleasant surprises in the NFL since entering the league in 2020. The third-round pick and former college walk-on at Charlotte has done nothing but impress since he has been here, and his spin move when rushing the passer might be the most lethal in the game right now.
It's certainly a debate whether or not Alex Highsmith deserves to be considered a top 100 player in the NFL, and I can see arguments to be made on both sides. If he does crack the list, it won't be by much. I have him being one of the first names called at 96th overall as the NFL Network releases this list in reverse order.