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mesaSteeler
02-27-2012, 07:45 AM
Alabama linebacker Hightower's pedigree boosts draft status

By Scott Brown
PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, February 27, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS The game within a game has a relatively simple formula.

Points are awarded for tackles, interceptions and forced fumbles, among other things. They are taken away for blown assignments and missed opportunities.

By the end of a championship season, Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower had amassed more points than any of his teammates. Considering how dominant of a defense Alabama fielded in 2011, that's like grading better than classmates in a particle physics course at MIT.

"We all compete, and that's another reason why we came to Alabama and the SEC to compete against some of the best athletes in the country," Hightower said at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Hightower's transcendent play in the crucible of SEC competition puts him on a short list of players who are likely to make an immediate impact in the NFL. He is of particular interest to the Steelers given their need at inside linebacker the team may part ways with 15th-year veteran James Farrior and the reality of this year's draft.

"It's not a real deep group at inside 'backer," Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said.

Hightower, who interviewed with the Steelers at the Combine, appears to be a Steelers inside linebacker straight out of central casting.

He is 6-foot-2, 265 pounds, and he is best suited for a 3-4 defense given his ability to take on and shed blockers.

Hightower led the Crimson Tide with 85 tackles last season, including 11 for losses. The consensus All-American also recorded four sacks and eight quarterback hurries in helping Alabama win the national championship.

His versatility would add to his appeal to the Steelers, who place a premium on that quality.

"I can play both inside and outside and the defensive end in the 4-3, so it ultimately comes down to which teams need what," Hightower said, "and I feel like I have just as much ability as anyone at the Combine at either (linebacker) position."

One concern teams may have about Hightower is the torn ACL he sustained in 2009, which wiped out much of his sophomore season. Then again, Hightower answered most if not all questions about coming back from a major knee injury with the way he played the past two seasons.

His speed is still a bit of an issue Hightower is hoping to run a 4.6 in the 40-yard dash today at the Combine to allay any concerns but he has been working on improving that at API Institute in Arizona.

Hightower dropped about five pounds before the Combine, and he said nutrition has become a big part of his training regimen. He hopes to lose about five to 10 more in advance of the draft to further enhance his speed.

"I feel as fast as I've ever felt, even before the knee injury," Hightower said. "I feel a lot more fluid as far as my movements go, so I'm definitely moving in the right direction to get myself in the best performance ability."

He proved to be at his best last season, and on a defense for the ages.

Four players from that unit Hightower, outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw, cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and safety Mark Barron are widely projected to go in the first round of the draft.

The depth and talent on that defense makes it all the more impressive that Hightower racked up more points in a season-long competition with his teammates.

There was a subjective element to the scoring, as coaches could award or deduct points based on judgment calls they made while watching film.

"But he won it fair and square," Upshaw said of Hightower, "and I'm proud to say I was in the top three with those two guys (Barron was the other). It was a fun competition."

Top of the class

Here are NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock's top five linebackers in the draft. Mayock ranked them before the NFL Scouting Combine, so they will likely change:

Rank, Player, College, Ht./Wt.

1. Courtney Upshaw, Alabama, 6-1/272

2. Luke Kuechly, Boston College, 6-3/242

3. Dont'a Hightower, Alabama, 6-2/265

4. Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma, 6-2/253

5. Sean Spence, Miami (Fla.), 5-11/231

Scott Brown can be reached at sbrown@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.

Read more: Alabama linebacker Hightower's pedigree boosts draft status - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/print_783700.html#ixzz1naNRjgIv

pancake
02-27-2012, 02:39 PM
What did Hightower run in the 40? I heard he was slow...

PhantomJB93
02-27-2012, 03:01 PM
What did Hightower run in the 40? I heard he was slow...

He ran a 4.62 which actually isn't bad at all for a guy his size (he is 6'4, 265).

Both our potential defensive picks (Poe and Hightower) are looking great in the combine right now, Burfict's stock is plummeting though, he might still be there in the second for us at this point.

bac151rum
02-27-2012, 03:09 PM
4.92 and 5.10 in his two 40's. Burflict may be there in the 4th for us.

pancake
02-27-2012, 05:10 PM
I'm just not big on drafting Hightower in the first round.

ricardisimo
02-27-2012, 05:17 PM
I'm just not big on drafting Hightower in the first round.
I'd prefer him in the 4th, actually, and Glenn in the 3rd, Poe in the 2nd and DeCastro first.

Fire Arians
02-27-2012, 05:18 PM
4.92 and 5.10 in his two 40's. Burflict may be there in the 4th for us.

wow his 40 times were that slow? coupled with his attitude problems I wouldn't be surprised if he goes undrafted. he won't be the first nfl prospect who early on was considered 1st round talent that goes undrafted.

ricardisimo
02-27-2012, 05:22 PM
wow his 40 times were that slow? coupled with his attitude problems I wouldn't be surprised if he goes undrafted. he won't be the first nfl prospect who early on was considered 1st round talent that goes undrafted.
Just like me, sadly...

http://blogs.nwaonline.com/slophouse/files/2009/08/uncle-rico.jpg

El-Gonzo Jackson
02-27-2012, 06:37 PM
Just like me, sadly...

http://blogs.nwaonline.com/slophouse/files/2009/08/uncle-rico.jpg

Yeah, but the film on you was scarce. Except for that farm animal sex tape.

I thought this article was gonna be about him being related to the cop from Police Academy.

PhantomJB93
02-28-2012, 02:19 AM
wow his 40 times were that slow? coupled with his attitude problems I wouldn't be surprised if he goes undrafted. he won't be the first nfl prospect who early on was considered 1st round talent that goes undrafted.

Won't happen. People who that happen to have SERIOUS problems, like criminal record serious. Burfict's problems are "James Harrison" problems, IE on field temper and stuff like that. Physically he didn't look great at the combine but he'll still be drafted by the end of the second round.

Kingmagyar
02-28-2012, 07:16 AM
Where did Burfict disappear to after his 40 time? I did not see him in another drill. He probably pretended to be hurt to explain his slow 40 time and not have to look more like a fool in the other drills. Mike Mayock says he is so all over the field over pursuing running plays. He blames everybody else for his own woes including teammates and coaches. This guy is a moron. A slow moron at that.

Hightower by far the better choice for the Steelers looked real good in his drills and 4.60 isn't bad, however I would hope by some miracle Luke Kuechly falls to us instead.

El-Gonzo Jackson
02-28-2012, 10:55 AM
Won't happen. People who that happen to have SERIOUS problems, like criminal record serious. Burfict's problems are "James Harrison" problems, IE on field temper and stuff like that. Physically he didn't look great at the combine but he'll still be drafted by the end of the second round.

Sounds like some NFL scouts dont think the same.

After speaking to NFL scouts and assistant coaches at the Combine, CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman suggests Arizona State ILB Vontaze Burfict is in for a draft-day plunge."I'm not sure any player here sparked a worse reaction than Vontaze Burfict," writes Feldman. "I wouldn't touch him," one scout said. "... The guy is completely out of control. There's no way you could trust him. I can't believe they (ASU coaching staff) didn't cut him loose." Added one NFL coach, "You just scratch your head at some of the knucklehead things he does on tape. It was the same thing over and over and over again with him."
http://www.rotoworld.com/player/nfl/7435/vontaze-burfict

Bayz101
02-28-2012, 10:59 AM
You can have all the skill in the world, but the minute you disobey coaches orders, you severely hurt yourself in the long run. I love Vontaze's skillset, but I HATE his attitude. James Harrison would make this punk look like Satans worst enemy.

Fire Arians
02-28-2012, 11:54 AM
Won't happen. People who that happen to have SERIOUS problems, like criminal record serious. Burfict's problems are "James Harrison" problems, IE on field temper and stuff like that. Physically he didn't look great at the combine but he'll still be drafted by the end of the second round.

i wouldn't say it's james harrison problems. james doesn't have an anger or attitude problem, he is just intense and hits people freaking hard.

burfict's issues are more along the lines of a child who can't control his anger problems a la bryan cox. or like chris kemoeatu but even worse, he plays a position that requires a LOT more composure than guard. i will be surprised if this guy isn't a complete failure in the nfl. it's a shame because he is ultra talented, but the game of football is much more mental than physical