The Pittsburgh Steelers have reportedly locked up the first of their draft picks, signing third-round draft pick Alex Highsmith according to ESPN’s Field Yates. With the COVID-19 restrictions, NFL teams have not had access to players to complete physical exams. Many teams, including the Steelers, held off on signing their draft picks because of this. But with rookies reporting this week, the time has come to get their draft picks under contract.
Rookie contracts are rolling in fast with reporting dates coming up. A trio of third-rounders that have agreed to terms on their deal, per source: Packers TE Josiah Deguara, Cardinals OT Josh Jones and Steelers LB Alex Highsmith.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) July 21, 2020
Alex Highsmith played college football for the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, a football program that started in 2013. He is the third draft pick to come from the Charlotte 49ers The other two, Larry Ogunjobi (2017) and Nate Davis (2019), were also third round picks. Hopefully Alex Highsmith can follow their successful transitions to the NFL, as both Ogunjobi and Davis have earned starting jobs for their teams.
The Steelers have three outside linebackers that got on the field for the team in 2019 still on the roster, Bud Dupree, T.J. Watt and Olasunkanmi Adeniyi With Bud Dupree playing on the franchise tag Alex Highsmith has a good opportunity to fight for a starting position in 2021. Spotrac.com estimates the contract for Highsmith’s draft slot to be around $4.5 million over 4 years. Bud Dupree holds the highest cap hit on the Steelers defense for 2020, due to playing on the franchise tag. If Alex Highsmith can show enough in his rookie year to give the Steelers confidence he can replace Dupree, the team could free up a lot of cap space for 2021.
With this signing, the Steelers have their first rookie draft pick under contract and five draft picks still unsigned. With rookies reporting to the facility for COVID-19 testing today, chances are the remaining draft picks will be following close behind.
Stay tuned to Behind the Steel Curtain as the Steelers full slate of draft picks look to be signed in a very short period.