2018 NFL Draft

Dont’a Hightower, ILB

School: Alabama  |  Conference: SEC
College Experience: Junior  |  Hometown: Lewisburg, TN
Height/Weight: 6-2 / 265 lbs.
Projected Ranking
OverallPositionProj. Rnd.
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04/30/2012 - A closer look at the Patriots' picks: Round 1/25 - Dont'a Hightower, ILB, 6-2, 265, Alabama...Once again, the Patriots moved up in the pecking order to get the player they wanted in fear that somebody else (namely the Ravens) might take him off the board. Hightower seems more of a natural fit in New England due to his versatility; he can play with a hand on the ground as a pass-rushing defensive end, or drop into coverage as a run-stuffing linebacker. - The Sports Xchange

04/30/2012 - Their last few drafts have been failures littered with too many mediocre third- and fourth-round selections. Only time will tell whether or not they made the right selections. The only curious move was trading their 62nd pick for a third- and fifth-rounder. They say less is more, and while this year's draft might be lighter in quantity, the Patriots might leave this weekend with more quality than they've had in recent years. BEST PICK: Inside linebacker Dont'a Hightower -- Chandler Jones is the more celebrated of the Patriots' two first-round picks, but Hightower is arguably more versatile based on his ability to stop the run and rush the passer. These are the kind of players that seem to fit the mold best in New England, and Hightower could build a solid career as a hybrid linebacker/defensive end. - The Sports Xchange

04/30/2012 - For once, the New England Patriots eschewed the idea of drafting based on value and instead went with their instincts in making bold moves to get the players they wanted - and, perhaps, needed - in this year's NFL draft. Head coach Bill Belichick is no stranger to making draft-day deals, except he's often moving down in the pecking order to build late-round value or stockpile picks for a future draft. This year, the Patriots traded up twice in the opening round, tossing in two mid-round picks as sweeteners, to ensure they'd get Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones and Alabama inside linebacker Dont'a Hightower. They moved up from No. 27 to 21 to get Jones and up again from No. 31 to 25 to grab Hightower, an unprecedented turn of events for anyone who's followed Belichick's drafts for the past few years. The bold moves should be applauded in New England; if anything, time has proven that swapping one pick for multiple, late-round selections hasn't done the Patriots any good in recent years. - The Sports Xchange

04/27/2012 - After taking Jones, New England sent the 31st selection and the 126th pick to the Broncos to move up to 25 to take Hightower. Hightower is a versatile linebacker who can play all the spots at linebacker in both a 4-3 and 3-4, and also served as a rush end in nickel situations at Alabama. His versatility is clearly his most impressive trait. "Hightower's been in a great program for a great coach (Nick Saban), won a couple of national championships, been the signal-caller for that defense," Belichick said. "He played middle linebacker, inside linebacker off the line for Alabama in their base defense and nickel, but he also played defensive end in their nickel, opposite (Courtney) Upshaw. He rarely came off the field, defensively. "Both players have some versatility we can work with." - The Sports Xchange

04/27/2012 - TEN SURPRISES FROM ROUND ONE: 2. New England Patriots trade up... twice: Under Bill Belichick the Patriots have made a living out of trading out of the first round in an seemingly endless effort to build more picks for next year. With timing running out on Tom Brady's career and the Patriots having the ammunition to move up aggressively, they did certainly did that Thursday, twice moving up to land defensive end Chandler Jones at No. 21 and inside linebacker Dont'a Hightower only four picks later. - Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com

04/27/2012 - 2012 NFL DRAFT: PICK-BY-PICK ANALYSIS: 25. New England Patriots (draft-day trade with Denver, The Patriots acquired the 25th overall pick from the Broncos for the No. 31 pick and a fourth-round selection (126).): ILB Dont'a Hightower, Alabama -- Thumper with pass-rush skills, Hightower had a strong endorsement from Bill Belichick pal Nick Saban. He adds versatility to New England's scheme-flexible front seven. - Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange

04/26/2012 - ROB RANG'S TOP 50 PLAYERS OF THE 2012 NFL DRAFT: 32. Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama: Massive and instinctive, Hightower ranks as the top inside linebacker in the draft by some clubs - ahead of Kuechly due to the greater "pop" he'll provide as a run-plugger. Hightower is making a late charge up draft boards due to the fact that during film review scouts have noticed how much faster Hightower was in the second half of last season than the first - a sign that he's recovered fully from the torn ACL which ended his 2009 season after just four starts. - Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com

04/06/2012 - The best pass rushers like Alabama's Courtney Upshaw, Illinois' Whitney Mercilus and South Carolina's Melvin Ingram are likely to be off the board by the time the Ravens pick. USC defensive end Nick Perry is more of a 4-3 style player, but could be converted to outside linebacker because of his 4.5 speed. "It's pretty good," said Hortiz, speaking generally about the class of pass rushers. "If you look at the defensive end and the rush 'backer position, it's pretty full." It's regarded as unlikely that versatile Alabama middle linebacker Dont'a Hightower, who reminds many draft analysts of Pittsburgh Steelers Pro Bowl outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley, will last until the end of the first round. If he's around, Hightower could fit in at several front seven positions for Baltimore and could eventually be groomed to take over for Lewis. "Hightower is a great player, there's no doubt about it," DeCosta said. "He's an explosive guy. We've seen him play many times, obviously with the Alabama connections. We are going to draft the best player that's available. If that's an inside linebacker and we think that guy can be a really good player for us, we're going to take him." - The Sports Xchange

03/16/2012 - NFL Draft Scout Top Inside linebackers: *Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama, 6-2, 265, 1-2...Like most of his teammates, Hightower didn't give a full workout at his March 7 Pro Day. But Alabama coach Nick Saban gave Hightower, who turned 22 on March 12, an early birthday present when he offered plenty of data for those who would listen. "Inside linebacker, nickel backer, defensive end and odd rusher," recited Saban. "He does all those things very well, he is very smart and he has leadership qualities." As a freshman, Hightower was labeled "a freak who can play any position" by teammate Rolando McClain (No. 8 overall in 2010, Raiders). He played up to the hype until he blew out his left knee in 2009 and required reconstructive surgery on his ACL, MCL and meniscus. It wasn't really until last season that he was playing back to top form, which is comparable to a larger and more athletic Brandon Spikes (New England, second-round pick out of Florida, 2010). Hightower combines dutiful film work and great instinct to help get him quickly into position for plays, and then his substantial physical abilities take over. He is a natural leader and weight-room fanatic. - Frank Cooney, The Sports Xchange/NFLDraftScout.com

03/07/2012 - Quotes from Alabama's Pro Day, Don't'a Hightower, linebacker...On if there is a load off his shoulders now that Pro Day is over: "Just a little bit. I still have another Pro Day I'm going to do with Trent (Richardson) and Mark (Barron) and all those guys. That's actually on the (March) 29, so I still have room for improvement. I'm still going to work on that. I'm just going to keep going the way I've been going." On what he accomplished today: "I feel like I showed everyone that I do have good hips. I'm able to come out of break pretty well. I feel like I did pretty well as far as the position goes. I'm not really a drill guy, but once you get me in the pads and on the field I feel like I did a really good job." On questions about his knee injury: "I still get it all the time which you can't really blame people for asking about it. In Indianapolis I got the MRIs, the x-rays, the whole long of it, but I really feel like I've answered all the questions about the knee." - Alabama football

03/07/2012 - Quotes from Alabama's Pro Day, Head Coach Nick Saban...On Dont'a Hightower's jump from a college defense to a professional defense: "I think that he has done it all here. He's got a lot of diversity as a player, because he has played a lot of different positions. I think he is going to offer the same thing at the next level; inside backer, nickel backer, defensive end and odd rusher. So there are not many other things that you can do, and I think he does all those things very well. I think he is very smart, he has leadership qualities. I think people are starting to recognize that the more and more they are around him." - Alabama football

03/07/2012 - I am beginning to get some of the early results from the just concluded Alabama Pro Day but perhaps the biggest story of the day was who wasn't available to work out rather than who was. Three of the four Crimson Tide prospects currently rated as first round caliber prospects by NFLDraftScout.com did not participate in today's workout. It had been known that running back Trent Richardson (knee) and safety Mark Barron (hernia) would not be working out today. Pass rusher Courtney Upshaw also was unable to workout today due to knee tendinitis. Each is expected to participate in Alabama's second Pro Day workout, scheduled for March 29. All 32 NFL teams were represented today. Expect all 32 to be there March 29, as well. Of course, the defending national champions boast plenty of talent other than these three -- not the least of which is two other potential first round prospects in cornerback 'Dre Kirkpatrick and inside linebacker Dont'a Hightower. Neither Kirkpatrick nor Hightower elected to run the 40-yard dash Wednesday after participating in the event at the Combine. Each participated in positional drills. Hightower did go through other measureable drills, as well, including the three-cone (4.73) and short (20-yard) shuttle (7.55), according to a source on the scene. - Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com

02/25/2012 - Alabama inside linebacker Dont'a Hightower believes he'd fit in perfectly with Pro Bowlers such as Brian Urlacher and Julius Peppers in Chicago. When asked about potentially playing alongside some of the great linebackers in the league, including Ray Lewis in Baltimore and James Harrison of the Steelers, Hightower said he recently dined with Urlacher in Arizona. Hightower, a junior, is training in Arizona at Athletes Performance Institute. He led Alabama in tackles last season with 85, including 11 tackles for loss, four sacks, eight hurries and one interception. That's the kind of production that even Lewis and Urlacher would be proud of. Hightower was more interested in hearing what the 33-year-old Urlacher, a first-round pick in the 2000 draft, had to say about transitioning from college to the professional game and lifestyle. "The transition from student athlete to professional," Hightower said of what Urlacher talked to him about. "To play alongside of those guys, get a lot of experience from those guys, that'd help me out a lot." Did Urlacher sell the Lewisburg, Tenn., native on the big city of Chicago? "He wasn't trying to sell me as much. We talked. We rapped a little bit about football and the NFL," Hightower said. Hightower was an All-American inside linebacker in Alabama's 3-4 defense. He was listed in college at 6-4, 260, but measured at the Combine at 6-2, 265. He wants to drop 5-10 more pounds for his campus workout on March 7. His 2011 season was a bounceback year after the captain was admittedly timid as a sophomore in 2010, his first season back from a season-ending ACL injury against Arkansas the year before. "I feel a lot more fluid as far as my movement," Hightower said. Teams have shown appreciation for his versatility, and he believes based on interest from scouts that he can play inside linebacker or outside linebacker in any defensive scheme. "I feel a little bit more comfortable playing inside," he said. - NFLDraftScout.com

02/23/2012 - NFL DRAFT SCOUT PRE-COMBINE TOP 64: 29. *Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama, 6-4, 260, 1-2...Bigger and badder than your average inside linebacker, Hightower was only a freshman when he caught the attention of former Alabama teammate Rolando McClain. "He is a freak who can play any position on the field," said McClain, the No. 8 overall selection by the Oakland Raiders in 2010. Hightower was playing up to the hype until he blew out his left knee in 2009 and required reconstructive surgery on his ACL, MCL and meniscus. It wasn't really until last season that he was playing back to top form, which is comparable to a larger and more athletic Brandon Spikes (New England, second-round pick out of Florida, 2010). Hightower combines dutiful film work and great instinct to help get him quickly into position for plays and then his substantial physical abilities take over. He is a natural leader on and off the field and is known as a fanatic in the weight room who extols the virtues of good nutrition. - Frank Cooney - The Sports Xchange, NFL Draft Scout

02/21/2012 - 2012 NFL COMBINE, PLAYERS WITH SOMETHING TO PROVE: Dont'a Hightower, ILB, Alabama: Considering his frame (listed by Alabama at 6-4, 260) and penchant for big hits, some consider Hightower to be the best run-defending linebacker in the 2012 draft. To earn a top 50 selection, Hightower has to run well at the combine. A number of teams operating out of the 4-3 defense question whether he has the speed to beat NFL backs to the edge. - NFLDraftScout.com

01/12/2012 - Alabama junior cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and junior running back Trent Richardson announced Thursday that they will be entering the 2012 National Football League Draft. In addition, junior linebacker Dont'a Hightower has decided he will also declare for the draft. Although unable to be present at the press conference on Thursday, Hightower also made his decision known. "After four great years at the University of Alabama, I have decided it is time to make myself eligible for the NFL Draft," Hightower said. "The chance to be a key part of our national championship team this year made for the perfect end of my Alabama career. I can't thank Coach Saban, Coach Smart and the entire coaching staff enough for helping mold me in the player and person I am today. I also want to say thanks to my teammates and everyone at the University of Alabama that helped make this such a special experience." Hightower, a consensus first-team All-American in 2011, captained the Crimson Tide defense and led the squad with 85 tackles. He recorded 11 tackles for loss (-46 yards), four sacks (-26 yards), with one interception, eight quarterback hurries, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Hightower started 40 games, was a part of two national championship teams. During his four years at the Capstone, the Tide posted a 48-6 record. - Alabama football

01/09/2012 - After all the hitting, all the sweating and all the talking, it came down to a margin so slender that one would need a microscope to see it. By .0086 points, the Crimson Tide earned a rematch with LSU Jan. 9 in the Bowl Championship Series championship game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, surviving their regular season loss to the Tigers. It will be the first rematch for a national championship since Florida routed Florida State for the 1996 title. The Gators lost the regular season matchup, which certainly bodes well for Alabama. Players and coaches weren't sure how things would work out after their 9-6 overtime defeat at LSU's hands Nov. 5, but Oklahoma State's Nov. 18 loss at unranked Iowa State ultimately tipped the scales in the Tide's favor. "All season long, we have had a mindset that we wanted to get in position to accomplish the ultimate goal and now we have the opportunity to do that," linebacker Dont'a Hightower said. "We will take the utmost pride in getting this opportunity." - The Sports Xchange

12/30/2011 - There is a wealth of underclassmen considering an early exit to the NFL draft. Enough, possibly, to overshadow their teammates who don't have the option of another college season. There is another outlet to draw support for a pro career for those guys and receiver Marquis Maze is taking advantage. He said he had an invitation to participate in the Jan. 28 Senior Bowl. Nose tackle Josh Chapman said he's received an invitation but hasn't decided if he'll play in the game held annually in Mobile. Linebacker Dont'a Hightower, technically a junior since he was awarded a medical redshirt for the 2009 season, would like to play. As of last week, though, he was still angling for the invite. "I'd love to play in it," Hightower said grinning wide. "Anybody out there, holler at your boy. ... I'll play if they offer." - Michael Casagrande, The Montgomery Advertiser

12/08/2011 - 2011 CHUCK BEDNARIK AWARD FINALIST (MOST OUTSTANDING DEFENSIVE PLAYER): Dont'a Hightower, Alabama, LB, Jr...Hightower is a fourth-year junior for the Crimson Tide. He has started 41-career games and leads Alabama with a career-high 81 tackles in 2011. Hightower has 9.5 tackles for loss (-35 yards) this season with three sacks (-16 yards), one interception, eight quarterback hurries, a blocked field goal and three pass breakups. He is a finalist for the Lombardi Award, the Butkus Award, the Chuck Bednarik Award and the Lott Trophy. - Alabama football

12/07/2011 - 2011 ASSOCIATED PRESS ALL-SEC FOOTBALL SECOND TEAM: LB - Dont'A Hightower, Alabama, 6-4, 260, Jr., has been selected All-SEC Conference Second Team for the 2011 college football season as voted on by The Associated Press. Hightower, who hails from Lewisberg, Tenn., has a team-high 81 tackles on the season with 9.5 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks. Hightower is also responsible for the on-field calls and checks for the front seven. He has added one interception, one blocked field goal, eight quarterback hurries and three pass breakups. - Alabama football

12/07/2011 - 2011 ALL-SEC FOOTBALL FIRST TEAM (COACHES): LB - Dont'a Hightower, Alabama, has been selected All-SEC Conference First Team for the 2011 college football season as voted upon by the SEC head coaches. Hightower, who hails from Lewisberg, Tenn., has a team-high 81 tackles on the season with 9.5 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks. Hightower is also responsible for the on-field calls and checks for the front seven. He has added one interception, one blocked field goal, eight quarterback hurries and three pass breakups. - Alabama football

12/07/2011 - 2011 AFCA FBS COACHES' ALL-AMERICA TEAM: LB Dont'a Hightower, Jr., Alabama, has been selected to the 2011 AFCA FBS Coaches' All-America Team announced by the American Football Coaches Association. Hightower, who hails from Lewisberg, Tenn., has a team-high 81 tackles on the season with 9.5 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks. Hightower is also responsible for the on-field calls and checks for the front seven. He has added one interception, one blocked field goal, eight quarterback hurries and three pass breakups. - Alabama football

11/14/2011 - WEEK 11 SEC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Dont'a Hightower, Linebacker, Alabama, led Alabama with 11 total tackles with 2.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks and a pass break-up in the Crimson Tide's 24-7 win at Mississippi State...Alabama recorded five sacks in the game and nine tackles for loss and held MSU to just 131 total yards and nine first downs (3-of-16 on third down)...Hightower's unassisted sack came on a 3rd-and-8 at midfield late in first quarter, forcing Bulldog punt attempt...The Crimson Tide has not allowed an opponent to score more than 14 points during the first 10 games of the season and 11 dating back to the bowl game (longest since 1975-76 when the Tide did that for 14 games)...Hightower is UA's leading tackler with 66 total stops on the season (8.5 TFL, 3.0 sacks). - SEC football

10/24/2011 - WEEK 8 SEC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Dont'a Hightower, Linebacker, Alabama, totaled seven tackles with a sack, one interception, two pass break-ups and three QB hurries in Alabama's 37-6 win over Tennessee...He returned the interception 29 yards to the UT 9-yard line to set up Alabama's final touchdown...Alabama's defense gave up six total first downs, 155 yards (92 rush, 63 pass) and just two third down conversions on 14 Vol attempts...Alabama held the Vols scoreless in the second half and allowed just 41 total yards (0 first downs) in the final 30 minutes...Tennessee was held without first downs on 10 of 12 offensive possessions...Alabama ranks first nationally in all four major defensive categories (rush, pass effic, total and scoring). - SEC football

09/21/2011 - If someone survives the Southeastern Conference gauntlet unscathed there's little doubt they'll get a spot in the national championship-and a shot at winning the league's sixth consecutive title. That's a big if, especially without a clear-cut favorite in the SEC. There are plenty of contenders, including LSU, Alabama, South Carolina, Arkansas and Florida. All are ranked in the top 15. Others like Auburn, Georgia and Mississippi State have been previously ranked and hope to be a factor in November. But there will be many potential season-breaking showdowns before then. This weekend the third-ranked Crimson Tide hosts No. 14 Arkansas on Saturday while second-ranked LSU plays in yet another contest with championship implications when the Tigers travel to No. 16 West Virginia. Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower prefers starting conference play with such a pivotal game. "It's cool to open that way because you know you have two teams that will fight to the end," Hightower said. "Ain't nobody gonna give up. So whoever comes out the best man in this situation here you have a good chance of going to the SEC championship." Just as it was last season, the Western Division is loaded. "If you win the SEC West, you're the best in the country," Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said. LSU and Alabama are the front-runners. They have the vintage formula for winning the SEC-terrific defense coupled with a sound running game. But both teams have questions at quarterback. - AP Sports

09/02/2011 - PLAYERS TO WATCH: LB Dont'a Hightower - It will be interesting to see just how much closer Hightower is to 100 percent after playing last year on a bum knee. The key will be to watch his lateral movement. If Hightower can go side to side and make plays, as well as cover a running back in pass coverage, that will be a sign that he is ready to terrorize the SEC. - The Sports Xchange

08/28/2011 - Comparing the outstanding defenses of Alabama's championship teams is practically a tradition - and the Crimson Tide does cherish its traditions. The defensive unit from the 2009 title team opened the season amid comparisons to the 1992 championship squad. The current lineup led by All-American safety Mark Barron and linebacker Dont'a Hightower is fielding plenty of questions about whether it can measure up to the `09 champs - or maybe top them. Hightower & Co. aren't exactly dodging such talk. "We can be great," junior linebacker Nico Johnson said. "I honestly think we could be better than `09 defense. We've still got a lot of work to do, but I seriously think that." The Tide returns 10 starters - eight more than last year - from a defense that ranked third nationally in scoring defense and fifth in total yards allowed despite that inexperience. "I feel like the defense as a whole has that ability," Hightower said, referring to the `09 comparisons. The linebackers can afford to boast a little. It's probably the one part of the team where there seems to be no doubt about talent, depth or experience. A secondary led by Barron, safety Robert Lester and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick isn't far behind after being a question mark going into last season. The defensive line goes into the Sept. 3 opener against Kent State less established after replacing No. 3 NFL draft pick Marcell Dareus and several reserves. The returning linemen accounted for a modest 7.5 sacks last season, led by end Damion Square's three. - AP Sports

07/19/2011 - 2011 SEC PRESEASON ALL-SEC FIRST TEAM (COACHES): LB Dont'a Hightower, Alabama, Jr., has been selected All-SEC Football Preseason First Team for the 2011 college football season as selected by the SEC head football coaches. - SEC football

07/18/2011 - 2011 BUTKUS AWARD PRESEASON WATCH LIST: Dont'a Hightower, Alabama, has been selected one of 51 linebackers named to the 2011 Butkus Award Preseason Watch List for the 2011 college football season. The award is handed out annually to the top linebacker in college football. - The Butkus Foundation

07/13/2011 - 2011 ROTARY LOMBARDI AWARD PRESEASON WATCH LIST: Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama, (2nd Team All-SEC in 2010, 69 tackles), has been selected to the Rotary Lombardi Award Preseason watch list for the 2011 college football season. Eligibility for the Rotary Lombardi Award is limited to down linemen, end-to-end, either on offense of defense, who set up no farther than 10 yards to the left or right of the ball, and linebackers who set up no father than five yards deep from the line of scrimmage. This is the 42nd year that the Rotary Lombardi Award has named the nation's college lineman of the year. - The Rotary Lombardi Award Committee

07/11/2011 - 2011 BRONKO NAGURSKI TROPHY PRESEASON WATCH LIST: Dont'a Hightower, Alabama, LB, has been selected one of 87 players named to Preseason Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List for the 2011 college football season. The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is awarded annually to the nation's best defensive player by the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club. - Football Writers Association of America

07/08/2011 - 2011 CHUCK BEDNARIK AWARD PRESEASON WATCH LIST: Dont'a Hightower, Alabama, LB, Jr., has been selected by the The Maxwell Football Club to the Chuck Bednarik Award Watch List for the 2011 college football season, given annually to the best defensive player. - The Maxwell Football Club

05/03/2011 - 2011 LOTT IMPACT TROPHY WATCH LIST: Dont'a Hightower, Alabama, LB, has been named to the 42-player Lott IMPACT Trophy watch list for the 2011 college football season as selected by the Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation. - Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation