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-   -   Alabama linebacker Hightower's pedigree boosts draft status (http://forums.steelersfever.com/showthread.php?t=87230)

mesaSteeler 02-27-2012 07:45 AM

Alabama linebacker Hightower's pedigree boosts draft status
 
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/pitt...#ixzz1naNRjgIv

pancake 02-27-2012 02:39 PM

Re: Alabama linebacker Hightower's pedigree boosts draft status
 
What did Hightower run in the 40? I heard he was slow...

PhantomJB93 02-27-2012 03:01 PM

Re: Alabama linebacker Hightower's pedigree boosts draft status
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by pancake (Post 1000246)
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

Re: Alabama linebacker Hightower's pedigree boosts draft status
 
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

Re: Alabama linebacker Hightower's pedigree boosts draft status
 
I'm just not big on drafting Hightower in the first round.

ricardisimo 02-27-2012 05:17 PM

Re: Alabama linebacker Hightower's pedigree boosts draft status
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by pancake (Post 1000264)
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

Re: Alabama linebacker Hightower's pedigree boosts draft status
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bac151rum (Post 1000253)
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

Re: Alabama linebacker Hightower's pedigree boosts draft status
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Fire Arians (Post 1000268)
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...uncle-rico.jpg

El-Gonzo Jackson 02-27-2012 06:37 PM

Re: Alabama linebacker Hightower's pedigree boosts draft status
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ricardisimo (Post 1000270)

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

Re: Alabama linebacker Hightower's pedigree boosts draft status
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Fire Arians (Post 1000268)
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.


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