Photo of Dont'a Hightower
Drafted By: Patriots
  • Round 1
  • Pick 25
  • Overall 25

Combine Results

Grade
85.0 ?
  • 4.68 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 32.0 INCH
    Top Performer

Draft Analysis:

Mayock's take: "Bill Belichick's M.O. is to trade down. However, I believe he knows a thoroughbred when he sees one. He knows that defense is what they lacked in last year. So all of a sudden, they get one of the best linebackers in this draft to go with one of the best pass rushers."

  • 6'2" Height
  • 32 5/8" Arm Length
  • 265LBS. Weight
  • 9 3/4" Hands

Overview

Alabama has developed some impressive inside linebackers in the past couple years, and Hightower is a shining example of the type of NFL-ready players in the stable that allows the Crimson Tide to be so successful at the collegiate level. Hightower has looked the part of a starting middle linebacker in the NFL for two years. If he can keep his weight steady and not lose any speed, Hightower can do many of the same things that Oakland's Rolando McClain or New England's Brandon Spikes did working as the physical inside presence of a defense. Hightower could be a better fit within a 3-4 scheme, as he has the size to shed big offensive linemen who would work free to block him in the run game.

Analysis

Strengths

Hightower is lengthy and imposing in the middle of a defense. He has long arms that he uses effectively to fight off blockers, dip and push to avoid trash at his feet, and keep balls close to him. He is not the most athletic player in space, but he uses his arms to tie up receivers within his zone and fight tight ends off the ball. He is technically sound, although his style of play looks effortless. There are not many wasted motions in his movements, and he takes good angles to the ball when working both sides of the field. Although Hightower doesn't quite possess the speed to be a true sideline-to-sideline inside linebacker or the sole tackler in the middle of a 3-4 defense, he uses his instincts well and remains in position.

Weaknesses

Hightower has a big frame and can labor at times to move in extended spaces on the field. He excels within the box but likely won't run down many scatbacks at the next level. He is good to defend the pass in zone but struggles to maintain coverage in man after trying to disrupt at the line. Hightower struggles to flip his hips in man looks, and there are times when he has to change direction unexpectedly. He isn't heavy-footed, but he pursues the ball with a lot of momentum and can overshoot plays at times.
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Grade Title Draft (Round) Description
96-100 Future Hall of Famer Top Pick A once-in-a-generation type prospect who could change how his position is played
85-95 Immediate Starter 1st An impact player with the ability/intangibles to become a Pro Bowl player. Expect to start immediately except in a unique situation (i.e. behind a veteran starter).
70-84 Eventual Starter 2nd-3rd A quality player who will contribute to the team early on and is expected to develop into a starter. A reliable player who brings value to the position.
50-69 Draftable Player 4th-7th A prospect with the ability to make team as a backup/role player. Needs to be a special teams contributor at applicable positions. Players in the high range of this category might have long-term potential.
20-49 Free Agent UDFA A player with solid measurables, intangibles, college achievements, or a developing skill that warrants an opportunity in an NFL camp. In the right situation, he could earn a place on a 53-man roster, but most likely will be a practice squad player or a camp body.

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