2012 NFL Draft: Patriots Trade Up for Dont’a Hightower (LB, Alabama)

Dont'a Hightower Patriots Draft

Dont'a Hightower is the newest Patriot.

NEPD Editor: James Christensen

With the 25th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Patriots traded up with the Denver Broncos and selected former Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower. The Broncos received a 4th round pick for moving down from the 25th to the 31st pick.

Hightower displayed a lot of positional versatility during his time at Alabama. He spent a lot of time at middle linebacker, but showed a lot of talent rushing from the edge in passing situations.

It will be very interesting to see where Bill Belichick envisions Hightower lining up. In my opinion, he can line up at any 3-4 LB position and can put his hand down and rush the passer as a 4-3 DE as well.

He is decent in zone coverage, but isn’t a good man coverage guy. He does excel at taking on blocks on the inside and finds the ball very quickly.

Coming from the Nick Saban defense, Hightower should be ahead of the game compared to past Patriots rookies. Here is Saban on Hightower’s versatility:

He can play inside or outside backer, he can play mike or will inside. He’s played them both here. He can play outside, he’s been a designated pass rusher on 3 downs for us. He’s also been a stand-up fourth rusher when they put all the linebackers in there. He can play any one of those positions.

He’s a smart guy, he’s a signal caller that has really good leadership qualities and understands football extremely well and has a lot of diversity in terms of how you can use him. When you’ve got guys that size, that speed and that athletic who can do so many things, those guys don’t come around very often.

Here is our scouting report on Hightower.

On day two of the 2012 NFL Draft, I’d like to see the Patriots target a coverage linebacker or a cornerback/safety combination.

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18 Responses to “2012 NFL Draft: Patriots Trade Up for Dont’a Hightower (LB, Alabama)”

  1. iceman says:

    Jones ins’t a Serymour type. He would have to gain about 40 LBs. He will be more of a Willie McGinest type but a better athlete.

  2. Ken W says:

    This guy is a football player! Can play any LB spot and even some DE is certain situations. They will be able to mix around and confuse a lot of people with Spikes, Mayo, and Hightower all moving around behind the line.

    Great pick!

  3. Big Dan From Maine says:

    Lets just draft the 2 best DBs and now the defense is shored up. We have 7 picks next year to help fill depth on the offense, and D line. Again getting run against will not kill you. Not being able to pass rush and cover will!

  4. Dano S says:

    Awesome job by BB moving up twice to get two big fast athletic guys for defense.Now I would trade both 2nd round picks and move down and end up with Billy Wynn DL Boise St,Bernard Pierce RB Temple,
    Casey Hayward CB Vanderbilt and Matt Reynolds OL BYU.Awesome job Pats get some additional picks tomorrow.

  5. Dan says:

    This pick makes the Chandler Jones pick much better to me…he can work and get stronger and play situationally and maybe reach some high potential (Jones, that is).
    Hightower is a beast…he’s like Spikes, but with legs that can move…a serious talent.
    Our defense just got so much better…amazing 1st day!
    The fact that the Ravens were stepped over for Hightower only makes it so much sweeter…you know they were sitting there thinking he was falling on their laps.

    The defensive backfield just got that much better, while the pass rush will be better and the overall defense got bigger, stronger and faster.

    Hightower was an absolute steal…

    • paul says:

      The ravens sure did hawl ass after Patriots got Hightower!! agree bigger, faster, stronger

    • warren schrader says:

      What pass rush Jones had 4 sacks in a conference where no o lineman will get drafted.

      • Stanford says:

        You realize Jones was out 6 games with an injury last year right? Those 4 sacks were in 7 games. 2 of those were against #17 West Virginia. He had limited roles the previous seasons but was still learning the game. Still he was a beast against better offenses those years too. Do some research, this kid is good.

        • Mike says:

          Every game he was in he was getting double and triple teamed…Who else is on that Cuse defense to block?

        • Mike T says:

          Also a lot of the biggest teams run a ton, or run their own version of spread/option offenses where defensive ends don’t get a lot of opportunities to pin their ear backs and just GO after the passer.

  6. Dxl says:

    I LOVE this pick!! I think Mayo has the speed to play OLB with Hightower and Spikes playing inside is just amazing

    • AM says:

      I don’t know about Mayo outside–I don’t think he has the ability in the 3-4. If, however, they go back to the 4-3, Hightower could play SLB, or even rush end. Intriguing.

      • Tyjax says:

        I think Mayo stays inside with Spikes, Hightower goes outside with Nink!

        • AM says:

          That would make sense, if he has the speed for it. That would mean that the eventual plan for Jones is either to coach him up to OLB to replace Ninkovich, or have him put on some muscle and play DE. If so:

          DL: Jones, Wilfork, Fanene/Deaderick/Love

          LB: Ninkovich, Spikes, Mayo, Hightower

          Interesting . . .

        • paul says:

          I agree Mayo Spikes in the middle starting but having Hightower to scheme with IN/Out as needed also can help as bothe Spikes and Mayo have had knee issues past two years great insurance. I see Jones as the next Seymour and he’ll add weight over the years .

          Both are great picks!

  7. @59russo59 says:

    am i greedy for wanting Courtney Upshaw next up? There are so many tantalizing prospects left…for the first time I’m almost bummed we only have two picks left in this draft

    • Tyjax says:

      I would love Upshaw too, but I anticipate BB trading back a lot to get mroe picks for later in the draft

      • paul says:

        Bill seems determined this year to make the moves to go get impact players on defens. But maybe he has a player to trade to get a fourth or fifth rounder? Never know!

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