6'2 1/4, 265 pounds | Middle linebacker | Alabama
Coverage: Wasn’t used a lot in coverage at Alabama, but stayed on the field in passing situations. Because of his short-area quickness and intelligence, Hightower should hold up well in zone coverage. Reads running back routes nicely.
Instincts/recognition: Displayed improved instincts as a senior. Knows his assignments and is quick to diagnose. Doesn't take many false steps. Can play either spot inside on a 3-4 defense. Made the calls for the defense.
Pass rush: Was lined up outside in some nickel situations and has the strength to power through blocks. Although he's mostly played at the inside, Hightower has shown in the past that he can get after the passer. While he doesn't have an array of pass rush moves, he can rely on his power to beat blockers.
Pursuit: Hightower shows his athleticism with his short-area quickness. For a big linebacker, it's rare to see the quick-twitch movements like Hightower possesses. Is a little deficient moving around sideline-to-sideline to make plays. He's much more of a straight-ahead player who struggles to open up his hips and get around the field.
Run defense: In this year's draft, there is no better run-stopping linebacker between the tackle than Hightower. He's stout at the point of attacks and a great tackler. Wraps his arms, lowers his shoulder and drives through the ballcarrier. Has the foot quickness to break down in space and take down speedy running backs. NFL-ready strength in run defense. Has good leg drive to push linemen backward.
Final word: Hightower was the leader of the talented Alabama defense the past two seasons. He's an excellent run defender because of his instincts and strength. He's one of the surest tacklers in this year's draft and NFL-ready from a physical standpoint. Took a medical redshirt in 2009 after suffering a season-ending knee injury in the fourth game of the year.