The growth and maturation of an NFL player, is a dynamic, experienced by all, but the overall outcome is successful in some
After losing star linebacker Bud Dupree to a season-ending knee injury against the Baltimore Ravens, rookie Alex Highsmith found himself with the daunting task of maturing into his position quickly, while maintaining a similar level of productivity, Dupree had established the first 10 weeks of the season.
It would be understandable if a rookie like Highsmith eventually cracked under this pressure, but instead, his maturation has been on full display for over a month. In their season finale loss to the Cleveland Browns, in a game where the Pittsburgh Steelers rested the majority of their starters, Highsmith took it as an opportunity to show fans while he was so highly regarded coming out of Charlotte. Though his performance came with its fair share of mistakes, it was clear he was their best defensive player on the field in this game.
There is no secret that the past month for the Steelers, was one filled with trials and tribulations. Yet, players like Highsmith remained stoic and continued to perform at a high level.
When a player is drafted, one can hope they can acclimate to the point where they be somewhat productive. In Highsmith's case, considering the nature of the situation following Dupree's injury, he has evolved into a player with future All-Pro potential. No matter what Dupree's future is with this team, having Highsmith a successor to continue the high standard on defense, that has defined this franchise for decades, is a reason for Steelers fans to feel good.