Yet another young draft hopeful that has been linked to the Pittsburgh Steelers for some time now is linebacker Dont\’a Hightower from the University of Alabama. The linebacker group was center stage Saturday at the 2012 NFL combine, along with the defensive linemen group, and Hightower got his turn to talk to the media in the afternoon. During his media session Hightower said he measured in on Saturday at 6 foot 2 and weighed 265 pounds. He announced that he hopes to run a 4.6 in 40-yard dash when he takes the field Monday at Lucas Oil Stadium according to Scott Brown from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Hightower hoping to run a 4.6 in 40-yard dash Monday. Speed may be one of few questions teams have about Hightower.
— Scott Brown (@ScottBrown_Trib) February 25, 2012
Hightower let it be known that he has meetings scheduled tonight with the Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens and that he has already talked to Steelers linebacker coach Keith Butler since arriving in Indianapolis. He added that he has talked to a couple of the Steelers scouts since arriving and is looking forward to talking to Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin according to Ken Laird of the Trib Live Radio. He told the media that he can play both inside or outside as either a linebacker or defensive end and is a fit in either a 3-4 or 4-3 defense and that he feels he\’s as good as anyone in Indianapolis this week at either position.
Hightower: “Talked to a couple of [Steelers] scouts since I’ve been here, they’re interested in me, looking fwd to talking to coach Tomlin”
— Ken Laird (@Ken_Laird) February 25, 2012
When asked about the possibility of playing for the Ravens, Hightower said that playing next to Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs would be a “dream come true” and said they were idols of his. He also named Steelers linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley as players that he looks up to.
It is not surprising that Hightower has the interest of both the Steelers and the Ravens as he is considered one of the top inside linebacker prospects in the draft. The Steelers are long in the tooth inside with both James Farrior and Larry Foote entering their final years under contract and one of them could be gone before the start of the season to free up additional salary cap space. Due to the complexities of the Dick LeBeau 3-4 defense, it is unlikely that Hightower would see much time on the field outside of special teams play his rookie season, should the Steelers end up drafting him, but he could start to be groomed to see a much bigger role in 2013.
The Crimson Tide Pro Day is March 7th and you can expect that the Steelers brass will be present to watch his workout.