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NFL Draft Report

By Joe Buscaglia

LB Dont'a Hightower, Alabama

Dont'a Hightower, #30
6'3", 260 lbs., 21 years old
Lewisburg, TN
2011: 85 tackles, 11 TFL, 4 sacks, INT, FF
2010: 69 tackles, 3.5 TFL
2009: Medical Redshirt
2008: 64 tackles, 2.5 TFL, FF


- A very instinctive and intelligent player. Coach on the field. Barks out the calls for one of the most talented defenses in the NCAA in 2011. Understands offensive concepts and can diagnose play action.
- A very strong upper body. Can dump a blocker on his rear-end if he's too off-balance.
- Impressive size for a strongside linebacker. NFL type size.
- Good natural feel in zone coverage.

- Overall athleticism is behind where you come to expect for an Alabama defender. Not particularly great at changing directions with speed. Won't track anyone down. Could be exploited by a quick tight end in man-to-man coverage.
- Where does he fit? Has the size to play strongside OLB in a 4-3 but lacks the foot speed. Might only be limited to teams that run the 3-4 defense.
- Not particularly great at getting off the blocker in pass-rushing situations.
- A serious injury history. Underwent reconstructive knee surgery in 2009 on his ACL, MCL and meniscus.

Special Notes:
- Turns 22 in March.

Projection: 2nd to 3rd round
- Hightower certainly has the college pedigree you look for, but his overall lack of foot speed and athleticism may end up costing him during the draft. Some team will give him a look on day two.

Twitter: @JoeB_WGR

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