All sacks may count the same on the stat sheet but not all sacks are earned equally. Brandon Thorn does a great job contextualizing quality versus non-quality sacks. According to his latest “sack score” update that ranks the quality of each player’s sacks, Pittsburgh Steelers’ EDGE Alex Highsmith has the second-highest score in the league of 9.5. That ranks ahead of Myles Garrett, Matthew Judon, and everyone else except for Dallas’ Micah Parsons.
Of the ten total sacks he’s given Highsmith this season (in this study, half-sacks count as a full sack in the context of its quality), six of those have been high-quality while two were considered low-quality and two more were of the clean-up variety.
Those six HQ sacks are tied with Garrett for second-most in the league and are only behind Parson’s eight. Thorn included this blurb on Highsmith and his sack compilation.
“Highsmith has six total HQ sacks this season, three of which have come from using his top counter move, the inside spin.”
His inside spin is a move we’ve written and noted multiple times over the years and is among the best spins in the game in both the plan, using it only in big moments, and its actual effectiveness.
Highsmith is far and away the Steelers’ leader in sacks with nine sacks, already a career-high and he’s almost certain to reach his offseason goal of double-digit numbers. Highsmith has nearly as many sacks as the rest of the team’s combined ten and has been the team’s only consistent source of pressure this season. However, his pressure rate is lower compared to other top pass rushers in the game. According to Thorn, he’s averaging 17.1 snaps per pressure, worse than Garrett (10.0), Judon (10.0), and Nick Bosa (8.4) among many others.
Still, Highsmith is having a breakout year that could parlay itself into a big payday next summer. 2023 will be the final year of his rookie deal and if there’s a Steeler in line for an extension, it’ll be him. Determining his market value will be a little tricky but Highsmith will command a pretty penny. Not T.J. Watt-level, of course, but he could land a deal similar to or perhaps exceeding what Bud Dupree received from the Tennessee Titans in 2021.