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Old 03-25-2012, 01:09 PM    (permalink
bucfan12
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Default Donta Hightower: 4-3 MLB?

Question: I think Hightower has the athleticism, from his film, to be a 4-3 MLB, but many scouts say he's only a 2 -down thumper inside in the 3-4.

If Scott Wright or any others have a thorough evaluation after watching his film, any ideas?
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Old 03-25-2012, 01:15 PM    (permalink
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I think he could be a 4-3 LB yeah. He's definitely a better fit in a 3-4 though and i wouldnt feel comfortable picking him if i was a 4-3 team.
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Old 03-25-2012, 02:31 PM    (permalink
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Originally Posted by bucfan12 View Post
Question: I think Hightower has the athleticism, from his film, to be a 4-3 MLB, but many scouts say he's only a 2 -down thumper inside in the 3-4.

If Scott Wright or any others have a thorough evaluation after watching his film, any ideas?
Personally, I don't see it. Like many college LBs, Hightower is at his best moving forward. I'm probably a little harsher on him then most, but the guy just does not move well in coverage. I suppose he could play in a 4-3 if you wanted him to just be Jeremiah Trotter and plug holes before subbing him out on 3rd downs, but his skillset would be much, much better utilized in a 3-4. Hell, in a 3-4 you can move him around and blitz him from several locations, which also takes advantage of his skillset much better then placing him in a stereotypical 4-3 would.

I guess I should start getting excited about the guy though, there's a very, very good chance he becomes a Raven in April. I just get really anxious when I try and picture him covering a Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski.
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Old 03-25-2012, 06:20 PM    (permalink
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Besides Mark Barron, these Alabama defensive prospects are getting way more overrated than usual. This didn't happen for Auburn last year besides Newton but he is a physical specimen at quaterback so it's different. (granted Auburn didn't have that many NFL prospects on that team)

Like said above Hightower can't move unless it's going forward. He has a place in this league but he isn't as good as people think.

After watching more and more of Courtney Upshaw I don't get how this guy is even considered a first round pick? He has no explosiveness at all. He's a quality run stuffer with average pass rush ability who really belongs in the 3rd round. Put him on an average D1 program who went 8-4 and went to the Brute Sun Bowl or something like that and he's a mid to late 3rd rounder.

Kirkpatrick is intriguing because of his size at the position, but I remember early in the process people were mocking him in the top ten. He probably belongs in the late 20's. He definitely needs to bulk up and people need to remember the supporting cast all of these guys played with. I guarantee at least 60% of the contributors on the Alabama defense (starters and primary back-ups) will be on an NFL roster in the near future.

Back to the subject, Hightower is probably a late 3rd rounder as a 4-3 ILB who a team can try and develop, while he's probably a mid 2nd round talent as a 3-4 ILB. He will obviously go higher than that, but that is the nature of the draft.
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Old 03-25-2012, 06:30 PM    (permalink
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Personally, I don't see it. Like many college LBs, Hightower is at his best moving forward. I'm probably a little harsher on him then most, but the guy just does not move well in coverage. I suppose he could play in a 4-3 if you wanted him to just be Jeremiah Trotter and plug holes before subbing him out on 3rd downs, but his skillset would be much, much better utilized in a 3-4. Hell, in a 3-4 you can move him around and blitz him from several locations, which also takes advantage of his skillset much better then placing him in a stereotypical 4-3 would.

I guess I should start getting excited about the guy though, there's a very, very good chance he becomes a Raven in April. I just get really anxious when I try and picture him covering a Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski.
I would get anxious seeing him try to cover Heath Miller. :(
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Old 03-26-2012, 07:02 AM    (permalink
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I don't think Hightower has the lateral agility to be a 4-3 MLB. The only way he plays in a 4-3 is if he's at DE.
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Old 03-26-2012, 11:14 AM    (permalink
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After watching more and more of Courtney Upshaw I don't get how this guy is even considered a first round pick? He has no explosiveness at all. He's a quality run stuffer with average pass rush ability who really belongs in the 3rd round. Put him on an average D1 program who went 8-4 and went to the Brute Sun Bowl or something like that and he's a mid to late 3rd rounder.
ive seen alot of comments like this. Upshaw has gotten to the point where he's underrated. The dude is an absolute beast. No Explosiveness? How can he dominate SEC offenses, the national championship game and the Senior Bowl practices with no explosiveness? the guy went straight from Nat Champ to Senior Bowl without a break. He took time off to train after Mobile, which is why he's running late on 40 yard times.

but If he was on an average D1 program he'd blah blah blah. Yeah and if my aunt had balls she'd be my uncle. The fact that Upshaw was the meanest toughest player that Saban ever coached on Alabama (His words not mine) is like catnip to the NFL coaches. The guy was just nasty for 4 years. Dominating at Bama is different than dominating at Marshall. Starting right away at Bama as a true frosh is a lead into being great. No offense to Vinny Curry but Upshaw had to fight off 5 star recruits every year.

as for Hightower, he's another player who is underrated, and he actually fits well as a 3-4 OLB at 260+ and running a 4.6. He can play any LB position. This is a player that every mock has going to either Pittsburgh or Baltimore, but actually I bet he goes higher than that. The Jets could look at him if both Upshaw and Ingram are gone (which is possible).

I guess that's what the draft process does. Makes people think Upshaw and Hightower are overrated but Ryan Tannehill's going top 10. Ok... whatever.
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Old 03-26-2012, 11:22 AM    (permalink
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I liked that he didn't train for his 40 or didn't get as much time. This way we get to see their true speed.
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Old 03-26-2012, 11:53 AM    (permalink
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I think he can, but I prefer thumper Mikes anyways (even in a 4-3).

The coverage MLB is probably the most over-rated position in football right now. Unless you have a freak like Urlacher and get really creative in your linebacker coverages, I'd much rather have an Antonio Pierce than a Jonathan Vilma - especially with how many nickel/sub pass defenders teams use on defense these days.
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Old 03-26-2012, 10:17 PM    (permalink
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i like him as a 4-3 DE. but if brandon spikes can play OLB/MLB in the patriots hybrid defense, and even grab interceptions, i will give hightower the pass and say indefinatly he can, hes a better athlete anyways
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Old 03-27-2012, 09:41 AM    (permalink
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I think he will get looks to move outside to a 3-4 OLB, he can put his hand on the ground and is a better edge setter than most DE converts which makes him more valuable to some and a 3 down player.

PFW recently has him being selected by KC in the 1st round...and I think PFW gets it right with risers and fallers
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Old 03-27-2012, 09:56 AM    (permalink
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I think he will get looks to move outside to a 3-4 OLB, he can put his hand on the ground and is a better edge setter than most DE converts which makes him more valuable to some and a 3 down player.

PFW recently has him being selected by KC in the 1st round...and I think PFW gets it right with risers and fallers
I think he's what people think Upshaw is as a 3-4 OLB prospect. Will set the edge, has the ability to be an issue rushing the passer, and definitely has the size forthe position.

I think 3-4 teams should be in love with this guy. He's a legitimately awesome 3-4 LB prospect who can play any role. Upshaw too but he's more of a DE/LB rather than ILB/OLB. Love both players' style of play, even if I have some size/athleticism questions for Upshaw.
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Old 03-27-2012, 03:03 PM    (permalink
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i like him as a 4-3 DE. but if brandon spikes can play OLB/MLB in the patriots hybrid defense, and even grab interceptions, i will give hightower the pass and say indefinatly he can, hes a better athlete anyways
He doesn't have the instincts that Spikes has though.

I gotta agree with people saying he might be a better fit outside in a 3-4. He reminds me of Ahmad Brooks coming out of UVA. Big guys who played inside in the 3-4 in college, but were athletic and had pass rushing skills. Obviously Brooks is having his breakout in SF as an OLB. That said, some 3-4 team is going to fall in love with Hightower's versatility. I think the 3-4 fits his style of play as well.
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Old 03-27-2012, 03:06 PM    (permalink
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heres my write up of him going to the steelers in round 1

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I think if Higtower is there at 24, he will be the pick. MLB is a need, but in this case it is also a luxury pick. Hightower has had his stock up and down over the last few years, looking like a first rounder early and then a mid rounder after his injury when he didnt really play that well and looked sluggish off the snap. Since then however he has been a force in the middle of the Alabama defense. Running a 4.6 at the combine has me sold on any speed question marks he once had. At 6-4 260 that speed is ridiculous. He is a perfect compliment to timmons in the middle and will start early in his career. Has the size to take on blockers, he has the blitzing ability to get to the QB both through the middle and off the ede at OLB so if harrison and woodley both are hurt we wont be crippled at OLB, and he has the size and strength to play DE on passing downs and just get after the QB. Very versatile, but will be a key in the middle of the defense for us, ive compared him to Adalius Thomas in that he can line up anywhere on the defense pretty much. imo hes a better prospect than Rolando mcclain in every way and twice as versatile
43 MLB would be a terrible place for him imo
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Old 03-27-2012, 03:12 PM    (permalink
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He doesn't have the instincts that Spikes has though.

I gotta agree with people saying he might be a better fit outside in a 3-4. He reminds me of Ahmad Brooks coming out of UVA. Big guys who played inside in the 3-4 in college, but were athletic and had pass rushing skills. Obviously Brooks is having his breakout in SF as an OLB. That said, some 3-4 team is going to fall in love with Hightower's versatility. I think the 3-4 fits his style of play as well.
On the field smarts are probably the biggest pluses for both Hightower and his teammate Barron.
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Old 03-27-2012, 04:24 PM    (permalink
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On the field smarts are probably the biggest pluses for both Hightower and his teammate Barron.
He's definitely smart and has been praised by Saban for knowing the defense and what others are supposed to be doing. Not saying he has no instincts, but as far as finding the football and reacting, he is not as good as Spikes in my opinion.
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Old 03-27-2012, 04:25 PM    (permalink
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ive seen alot of comments like this. Upshaw has gotten to the point where he's underrated. The dude is an absolute beast. No Explosiveness? How can he dominate SEC offenses, the national championship game and the Senior Bowl practices with no explosiveness? the guy went straight from Nat Champ to Senior Bowl without a break. He took time off to train after Mobile, which is why he's running late on 40 yard times.

but If he was on an average D1 program he'd blah blah blah. Yeah and if my aunt had balls she'd be my uncle. The fact that Upshaw was the meanest toughest player that Saban ever coached on Alabama (His words not mine) is like catnip to the NFL coaches. The guy was just nasty for 4 years. Dominating at Bama is different than dominating at Marshall. Starting right away at Bama as a true frosh is a lead into being great. No offense to Vinny Curry but Upshaw had to fight off 5 star recruits every year.

as for Hightower, he's another player who is underrated, and he actually fits well as a 3-4 OLB at 260+ and running a 4.6. He can play any LB position. This is a player that every mock has going to either Pittsburgh or Baltimore, but actually I bet he goes higher than that. The Jets could look at him if both Upshaw and Ingram are gone (which is possible).

I guess that's what the draft process does. Makes people think Upshaw and Hightower are overrated but Ryan Tannehill's going top 10. Ok... whatever.
Completely agree. Were talking top notch production against top notch competition, and he always turned the volume louder when it was important. Teams that sleep on him will be thoroughly disappointed when he blasts their QB.
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Old 03-27-2012, 04:26 PM    (permalink
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He's definitely smart and has been praised by Saban for knowing the defense and what others are supposed to be doing. Not saying he has no instincts, but as far as finding the football and reacting, he is not as good as Spikes in my opinion.
Probably closer to Maualuga than Spikes IMO. Both of them are more explosive in a phone booth than Spikes, but can struggle diagnosing. Spikes has better instincts.

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Old 03-27-2012, 07:11 PM    (permalink
Cudders
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Originally Posted by Steady Lurkin View Post
I think he can, but I prefer thumper Mikes anyways (even in a 4-3).

The coverage MLB is probably the most over-rated position in football right now. Unless you have a freak like Urlacher and get really creative in your linebacker coverages, I'd much rather have an Antonio Pierce than a Jonathan Vilma - especially with how many nickel/sub pass defenders teams use on defense these days.
This.

Hightower can man the middle of a 4-3 without hamstringing coverage capabilities too much. Profiling as a classic, downhill linebacker isn’t a scheme-specific trait. In fact, some 4-3 teams even prefer having a thumper like Hightower at MIKE, their general belief being that a strong run defense is built inside-out. Stack the middle of the defense with big bodies, plug at the point, funnel the runner to the perimeter, and let the athletes get there. In that regard, he grades out well and a team looking to fill that role would consider him, even if the consensus is that he belongs behind an odd front. If a 4-3 team does draft him though, we can argue if the value of that role is worth a premium selection, but the fit itself shouldn’t be a question. That is, unless the coaching staff proceeds to utilize him in an inappropriate manner. But, if the defensive coordinator is leaving him stranded on an island against an elite pass-catching tight end in third-and-forever situations, then the problem isn’t a sole function of poor talent evaluation. Linebacker corps are becoming more specialized for a reason, so there’s nothing wrong with the idea of drafting Hightower (given the right value) and platooning him with a coverage specialist for sub-packages. Every-down linebackers are a dying breed.

Casting aside generalities, I think Hightower can make an easier transition to a 4-3 than most. During his freshman season, I believe his weight hovered around 245 pounds, but an Alabama fan would know better. Regardless, he was more explosive in 2008, and I’m not certain if his apparent loss of athleticism can be attributed to just the torn ACL when we’ve seen others make full recoveries. At the Combine, he weighed in at 265 pounds. Now, Nick Saban is one of those coaches that desires imposing size down the middle of his defense, so it made sense for Hightower to add the bulk for the Tide’s 3-4. But, if I’m a 4-3 team, I would be curious about the prospect of him slimming down to see if he regains some sideline-to-sideline speed and short-area athleticism as a result. He’s got the kind of natural, explosive power that would allow him to thrive in the phone booth still. Just something teams and their trainers will (or should) be thinking about.

As for the prospect himself, I like Hightower’s game. He has some inconsistencies that need to be ironed out, but the skill set is there to mold. As has been said, he’s got explosive power, and that’s quite an attractive trait to aggressive defensive coaches. You can hear the pads pop when he lowers the boom. And, as I alluded to, I think his coverage deficiencies are overstated. He isn’t Patrick Willis or Brian Urlacher, but few linebackers are. With some seasoning, he’s got long arms he can use to re-route underneath stuff and he’s capable of sitting in a shallow zone. He shouldn’t be asked to do much more than that.

Overall, I have him rated as a (close) second best 3-4 inside linebacker and a late first-rounder at that position. If I were drafting for a 4-3, his stock would be lower than that, but that isn’t as indicative of him as a prospect as it is a reflection on the value I would assign to his role.
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Old 03-29-2012, 04:45 PM    (permalink
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Any chance Hightower falls to the Chiefs' second round pick? We could use some one to play next to Derrick Johnson in our 3-4 and potentially rush in passing situations.

As far as Courney Upshaw goes, I think he is a bit underrated by some. No, he's not a blazing fast speed rusher. But the kid is bull strong and was a highly effective player in the best football conference in the country. Even though we have Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, I'd still consider taking Upshaw if I were the Chiefs sitting there at 11 because we were near the bottom of the league in sacks last year. Won't happen of course. But the Chiefs need another pass rusher nonetheless.
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Old 03-30-2012, 04:27 AM    (permalink
HellonEarth84
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Besides Mark Barron, these Alabama defensive prospects are getting way more overrated than usual. This didn't happen for Auburn last year besides Newton but he is a physical specimen at quaterback so it's different. (granted Auburn didn't have that many NFL prospects on that team)

Like said above Hightower can't move unless it's going forward. He has a place in this league but he isn't as good as people think.

After watching more and more of Courtney Upshaw I don't get how this guy is even considered a first round pick? He has no explosiveness at all. He's a quality run stuffer with average pass rush ability who really belongs in the 3rd round. Put him on an average D1 program who went 8-4 and went to the Brute Sun Bowl or something like that and he's a mid to late 3rd rounder.

Kirkpatrick is intriguing because of his size at the position, but I remember early in the process people were mocking him in the top ten. He probably belongs in the late 20's. He definitely needs to bulk up and people need to remember the supporting cast all of these guys played with. I guarantee at least 60% of the contributors on the Alabama defense (starters and primary back-ups) will be on an NFL roster in the near future.

Back to the subject, Hightower is probably a late 3rd rounder as a 4-3 ILB who a team can try and develop, while he's probably a mid 2nd round talent as a 3-4 ILB. He will obviously go higher than that, but that is the nature of the draft.
The Alabama defensive players have a lot going for them


1. Experience in a complex pro style defence

2. Experience in a 34 defence (something the most prospects lack)

3. Pedigree of recent successful players taken in the Top 8 that have turned into good pros (Rolando McClain and Marcel Dareus)

4. Good coaching (Nick Saban)

5. They all have good weight for their positions (must be something in the water down there?)

6. Proven against top competition in the toughest division in college football (SEC)

7. Experience playing in big games

8. Were a part of the #1 ranked defence in college football


I think they're all pretty safe picks. All of them are high motor players. Fitzpatrick is all over the field and is a playmaker. Upshaw doesn't have top notch athleticism but he can be a James Harrison type of OLB. He will be one of the better players to come out of this draft class. Explosion is not everything. Hightower has all 8 things I listed above plus above average size for a Middle Backer.

You don' have the #1 defence in college football while playing in the SEC if they're all "overrated". Upshaw, Barron, and Fitzpatrick are all the real deal and should be drafted in the 15-30 range.

If you want overrated, look at Michael Brockers. The guy is sloppy and unmotivated. He reminds me of another LSU bust, JaMarcus Russell.
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Old 03-30-2012, 05:12 AM    (permalink
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On the field smarts are probably the biggest pluses for both Hightower and his teammate Barron.
They said that about Rolando McClain, too.
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Old 03-31-2012, 01:48 AM    (permalink
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Originally Posted by HellonEarth84 View Post
The Alabama defensive players have a lot going for them


1. Experience in a complex pro style defence

2. Experience in a 34 defence (something the most prospects lack)

3. Pedigree of recent successful players taken in the Top 8 that have turned into good pros (Rolando McClain and Marcel Dareus)

4. Good coaching (Nick Saban)

5. They all have good weight for their positions (must be something in the water down there?)

6. Proven against top competition in the toughest division in college football (SEC)

7. Experience playing in big games

8. Were a part of the #1 ranked defence in college football


I think they're all pretty safe picks. All of them are high motor players. Fitzpatrick is all over the field and is a playmaker. Upshaw doesn't have top notch athleticism but he can be a James Harrison type of OLB. He will be one of the better players to come out of this draft class. Explosion is not everything. Hightower has all 8 things I listed above plus above average size for a Middle Backer.

You don' have the #1 defence in college football while playing in the SEC if they're all "overrated". Upshaw, Barron, and Fitzpatrick are all the real deal and should be drafted in the 15-30 range.

If you want overrated, look at Michael Brockers. The guy is sloppy and unmotivated. He reminds me of another LSU bust, JaMarcus Russell.
Great post but I'm sure you mean Kirkpatrick not Fitzpatrick
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Old 03-31-2012, 03:30 AM    (permalink
Abaddon
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Originally Posted by HellonEarth84 View Post
The Alabama defensive players have a lot going for them


1. Experience in a complex pro style defence

2. Experience in a 34 defence (something the most prospects lack)

3. Pedigree of recent successful players taken in the Top 8 that have turned into good pros (Rolando McClain and Marcel Dareus)

4. Good coaching (Nick Saban)

5. They all have good weight for their positions (must be something in the water down there?)

6. Proven against top competition in the toughest division in college football (SEC)

7. Experience playing in big games

8. Were a part of the #1 ranked defence in college football


I think they're all pretty safe picks. All of them are high motor players. Fitzpatrick is all over the field and is a playmaker. Upshaw doesn't have top notch athleticism but he can be a James Harrison type of OLB. He will be one of the better players to come out of this draft class. Explosion is not everything. Hightower has all 8 things I listed above plus above average size for a Middle Backer.

You don' have the #1 defence in college football while playing in the SEC if they're all "overrated". Upshaw, Barron, and Fitzpatrick are all the real deal and should be drafted in the 15-30 range.

If you want overrated, look at Michael Brockers. The guy is sloppy and unmotivated. He reminds me of another LSU bust, JaMarcus Russell.
Rolando McClain has been a good pro? Wuh?
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Old 03-31-2012, 05:27 AM    (permalink
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Back to the subject, Hightower is probably a late 3rd rounder as a 4-3 ILB who a team can try and develop, while he's probably a mid 2nd round talent as a 3-4 ILB. He will obviously go higher than that, but that is the nature of the draft.
I wish every (other) team felt like this. The Patriots could get a star linebacker for very cheap.
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