2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Alabama's Hightower sees draft stock climb

By JOHN ZENOR - AP Sports Writer
    2012-04-20 13:30

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Dont'a Hightower insists he's right where he expected to be all along: A projected first-round NFL draft pick.

The former Alabama star just had to convince NFL teams that he was worth such an investment, and that he was fast enough to play middle linebacker at that level.

``I always knew I was going to be a first-round draft pick,'' Hightower said Friday. ``That's the way I've always worked. I pride myself on going out and doing the best I can to the best of my ability. I might have started slow during the season but whenever my teammates needed me to make a play or make a call, I was always there and did my job.

``It's not about what the media thinks. It's about what the team thinks.''

Teammates Trent Richardson, Mark Barron, Courtney Upshaw and Dre Kirkpatrick just had to prove their first-round projections were on the money before next week's draft.

Hightower needed to change a few minds.

ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay called Hightower ``the guy I'm most surprised with'' after studying tape in the weeks leading up to the draft.

``I think he's a Top 20 player in this draft,'' McShay said. ``I know he had the knee injury (in 2009), and he doesn't have elite speed. But he's 265 pounds, somewhere in that range, great versus the inside run. Pass rusher that can get off the edge, which was an addition to his game this past year.

``It's not just something that he did that was cute to help out for Alabama this year.''

Hightower's agent, Pat Dye Jr., thinks the 6-foot-2 linebacker has improved his stock by 20-25 spots since regular season's end.

Dye said the teams that have expressed the most interest in Hightower are the Chargers (No. 18), Bears (19), Titans (20) and Steelers (24). He said several teams who pick later with needs at linebackers and are high on him include the Ravens, Patriots and Giants.

He said teams have commented on his ability to line up at end in three-man fronts, like another client, the Dallas Cowboys' Pro Bowl linebacker DeMarcus Ware.

Hightower was a finalist for four national awards last season and had career-highs in tackles (85) and sacks (four). He also was responsible for play calls and checks.

He capped the season with a sack in the BCS championship game against LSU, when coach Nick Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart also gave him more freedom to get the front seven into the right formations with quick on-the-field judgments.

``(NFL officials) know coach Saban and they know coach Smart, and the fact that they gave me that much leeway in the national championship game against a big time team like that, kind of opened their eyes,'' Hightower said.

Hightower feels he's resolved uncertainty about whether he would be moved to defensive end because of his speed.

``All those questions are kind of in the past now about can I do it,'' he said. ``It's more about am I going to be able to apply myself to learn a new playbook that's different from what I've known for four years.

``The defense I played in at Alabama is a lot more complex than a lot of defenses that a number of defenses in the NFL. A lot of teams have told me that.''

Hightower was an almost instant starter for the Tide and a two-time team captain, but missed most of the 2009 national championship season with a knee injury. He opted not to seek another year of eligibility from the NCAA.

His Alabama coach doesn't think he had anything left to prove in college.

``I think that he's really done it all here,'' said Saban, a former NFL assistant and Miami Dolphins coach. ``He's got a lot of diversity as a player because he's played a lot of different positions. I think he's going to offer the same thing at the next level - inside backer, nickel backer, defensive end, odd rusher. There's not very many other things that you can do, and I think he does all those things very well. He's very smart and has leadership qualities. I think people are starting to recognize that the more they're around him.''

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Paul RichardsonMar 26 12:43a

Seattle Seahawks WR Paul Richardson (knee) might not be ready for the start of the season, head coach Pete Carroll indicated Wednesday, March 25. Carroll did say Richardson's rehab [ More ]

Blake BortlesMar 25 08:43p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles received an endorsement from head coach Gus Bradley Tuesday, March 24. Speaking at the AFC Coaches Breakfast at the NFL Annual Meetings Tuesday, Bradley [ More ]

Travis KelceMar 25 06:03p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce played at roughly 250 pounds in 2014, but head coach Andy Reid wants Kelce to report bigger in 2015, and Reid thinks Kelce [ More ]

Drew BreesMar 25 05:03p

Oregon QB Marcus Mariota isn't an option for the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, according to head coach Sean Payton. Payton said [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 25 04:33p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is wanted back in Minnesota, but the question is if Peterson wants to come back. Head coach Mike Zimmer said he doesn't believe Peterson [ More ]

Ifeanyi MomahMar 25 03:13p

Free-agent TE Ifeanyi Momah (Lions) signed a one-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals Wednesday, March 25. Financial terms were undisclosed.

Terence NewmanMar 25 01:53p

Free-agent CB Terence Newman (Bengals) agreed to a one-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings Wednesday, March 25, according to a source. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Jordy NelsonMar 25 12:23p

Green Bay Packers WR Jordy Nelson (hip) underwent hip surgery this offseason and is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks.

Victor CruzMar 25 11:53a

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (knee) could miss the start of the 2015 season with a torn patellar tendon in his knee, according to head coach Tom Coughlin. [ More ]

Josh HillMar 25 11:03a

New Orleans Saints TE Josh Hill is expected to have a bigger role in the offense in 2015. Head coach Sean Payton has mentioned him quite a bit since [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 25 10:53a

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is disgruntled and reportedly wants out of Minnesota, but head coach Mike Zimmer said the team has no plans to trade him.

Cody LatimerMar 24 09:33p

The Denver Broncos plan to use WR Cody Latimer as the third receiver behind WRs Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in 2015. 'I think it's time for him to [ More ]

Casey MatthewsMar 24 06:32p

Free-agent LB Casey Matthews (Eagles) agreed to terms with the Minnesota Vikings Tuesday, March 24. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

R. Griffin IIIMar 24 04:42p

Washington Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan said that the team will go with the best player available in the 2015 NFL Draft with the No. 5 overall pick, which [ More ]

Michael CrabtreeMar 24 03:02p

Free-agent WR Michael Crabtree (49ers) is having a hard time being signed this offseason, reportedly due to concerns regarding lower-leg injuries and a negative perception about his attitude.

Ray McDonaldMar 24 02:02p

Free-agent DE Ray McDonald (49ers) is signing an undisclosed deal with the Chicago Bears Tuesday, March 24.

Stephen BowenMar 24 01:32p

Free-agent DE Stephen Bowen (Redskins) is signing an undisclosed deal with the New York Jets Tuesday, March 24.

Geno SmithMar 24 01:22p

New York Jets QB Geno Smith will be the starting quarterback ahead of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick entering training camp this summer, according to new head coach Todd Bowles. 'You [ More ]

Zach MettenbergerMar 24 01:12p

Oregon QB Marcus Mariota is a realistic option for the Tennessee Titans with the second overall selection in this year's NFL Draft, and head coach Ken Whisenhunt is impressed [ More ]

Jarvis JenkinsMar 24 10:42a

Free-agent DE Jarvis Jenkins (Redskins) agreed with the Chicago Bears Tuesday, March 24, on a one-year deal.

Johnny ManzielMar 24 08:52a

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel is expected back with the team for offseason workouts April 20 after completing more than two months of treatment.

Adrian PetersonMar 23 07:52p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's agent, Ben Dogra, said Monday, March 23, that he doesn't think 'it's in Adrian's best interest to play in Minnesota' in 2015 and beyond. [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 23 06:02p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is expected to be part of the Vikings next season, according to general manager Rick Spielman. 'Adrian's a member of our football team,' Spielman [ More ]

Drew BreesMar 23 01:22p

New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees will not be traded, according to general manager Mickey Loomis. Recent speculation said that Brees may be on the trade block after his [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 23 12:52p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's preference is to play elsewhere than with the Vikings in 2015, according to a league source. He is under contract through the 2017 season [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 22 08:32p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's future remains unclear, but head coach Mike Zimmer recently said that the Vikings are 'excited' to have him back. Zimmer had previously said that [ More ]

James HarrisonMar 22 12:42p

Free-agent LB James Harrison (Steelers) signed a two-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, March 22. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Branden OliverMar 21 03:52p

San Diego Chargers RB Branden Oliver is penciled in as the starting running back at this point.

EJ ManuelMar 21 12:52a

Buffalo Bills QB EJ Manuel is not locked in as the starting quarterback. Head coach Rex Ryan said Friday, March 20, that the quarterback competition will be open. 'It's [ More ]

Kevin VickersonMar 20 05:52p

Free-agent DT Kevin Vickerson (Chiefs) agreed to terms on an undisclosed deal with the New York Jets Friday, March 20.

Matt MooreMar 20 04:32p

Free-agent QB Matt Moore (Dolphins) re-signed with the Miami Dolphins Friday, March 20. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Adrian PetersonMar 20 02:42p

Updating an ongoing story, Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is clearly wanted back by the organization, and general manager Rick Spielman once again stressed that they will make every [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group