NEPD Staff Writer: Tony Santorsa
With the 25th overall pick in this year’s past draft, the New England Patriots traded up with the Denver Broncos to select linebacker Dont’a Hightower out of Alabama.
My immediate reaction to this selection was that I loved it. I felt that Hightower was the perfect fit for the Patriots.
Throughout the entire scouting season, I was all over Hightower and felt that he’d be a perfect fit for New England. Hightower impressed me in so many ways, not only because of how he flourished with Nick Saban at Alabama, but his versatility and athleticism.
All in all, Hightower had a pretty solid rookie season with New England.
Much like fellow rookie Chandler Jones, Hightower wasn’t able to play the entire 16 game season as he dealt with a hamstring injury in Weeks 5 and 6.
Hightower’s most impressive showing came against the New York Jets back in Week 7. The 6’3″ 270 pounder recorded seven total tackles while recording a sack for a loss of 10 yards and was a major factor in New England’s 29-26 overtime victory.
At this point of Hightower’s career, he’s merely just a run-stopping linebacker—which is completely fine, as long as he continues to progress into a well-groomed every-down linebacker.
There is no doubt in my mind that Hightower has the potential to be one of the NFL’s top tier linebackers, but it’s going to have to take some time.
Hightower, along with Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes, could ultimately end up being the best linebacker corps in all of the NFL for many years to come.
2012 Stats: 14 games played, 60 tackles, four sacks, one defensive touchdown and three pass deflections
Letter Grade: B+