STRENGTHS - Erik is a big strong receiver and shows a nice ability to fight off jams and get into his routes. He shows a nature ability to run crisp routes and make himself a nice target for the QB and shield defenders from the ball. He shows good toughness and a willingness to go across the middle. When the ball is thrown his way he is very sure handed and shows the natural instinct to come back to the ball and make tough catches. He is a solid blocker that helps spring his running backs for big time gains.
WEAKNESSES - Highsmith's ability to run good routes is the only way for him to create any meaningful separation. He lacks the explosiveness or quickness and to run away from defenders. His top end speed makes sure he will not be a downfield threat. He also does not show great leaping ability and allows the ball to get into his body which allows defenders to knock it away and recover. He is not a fluid athlete which also makes him easier to cover for less athletic defensive backs.
SUMMARY - Erik Highsmith has been a contributor and part time starter since getting to Chapel Hill. When starting as a senior it was in the three wide receiver sets and does his best work between the numbers. His big body allows him to knock DBs around and make tough catches all over the field. His inability to create separation is a big concern for any team at the next level. He is at his best in the red zone where he was most effective during his time in college. His limitations as an athlete also keep him from being of any use on special teams as a return most due to being a straight line guy. The lack of explosiveness could knock him out of the draft all together, but his consistent ability to make catches and hold on the ball should give him a chance to be drafted late. Overall Erik Highsmith is a limited player that would be a decent pick up at the end of the draft. For him to have any chance to make a roster he is going to have to show value on the coverage squads of special teams. At best he is a practice squad player for the first few years.