By Matt Vensel, herald-mail.com:
Today’s player is Alabama inside linebacker Dont’a Hightower, one of four Crimson Tide defenders who are expected to be selected in the first round. Background: Born and raised in Tennessee, the now-22-year-old started as a true freshman for Alabama coach Nick Saban. He blew out his knee in 2009, but returned a year later to captain a Tide defense that allowed an NCAA-best 8.8 points per game. Hightower was named a consensus All-America in 2011 and was a finalist for four major individual honors, including the Butkus Award.
There are few visible flaws in Hightower’s game, especially if you’re looking at him for the 3-4. He is an intelligent linebacker who quickly diagnoses plays and takes good angles. He is a thumper, unloading his big frame on ballcarriers. And he can rush the passer, too, on occasion (four sacks in 2011). Plus he was a two-year captain at Alabama, which counts for something. “For years Baltimore has wanted a top-shelf playmaking linebacker to be trained by Ray Lewis. Here he is,” said Sports Illustrated’s Peter King. [More]