2012 Who Ya Gonna Draft? – Dont’a Hightower

PJD is on vacation. During this time, we’ve decided we’ll take a quick look at potential Minnesota Vikings draft picks for the second or later rounds. With so many needs and so many draft picks to get this team back to a place where we can at least pretend they are respectable, we’ll have plenty of ground to cover. Let us know what you think of each prospect in the comments, and whether or not they’d be a good fit or impact player, and of course if you can think of a funny nickname for them.

Today, we look at Alabama inside linerbacker Dont’a Hightower.

From ESPN’s draft analysis, because, what I’m supposed to take Yahoo!’s word on this?

Overall Football Traits

Production 2 “2008: (14/12)  64-4-0 2009: (4/4)  Medical redshirt 2010: (13/13)  69-3.5-0 2011: (13/13)  85-11-4 “
Height-Weight-Speed 2 Is taller and has a thicker build than the average ILB prospect. Top-end speed is adequate but not good.
Durability 4 “Medical redshirt in 2009, when he started the first four games before tearing the ACL in his left knee (vs. ARK). Underwent reconstructive surgery on his ACL, MCL and meniscus. Played in all 14 games in 2008 and started all 13 games in 2010. In 2011, had minor surgery on left hand (fracture) in August but started all 13 games again that season.”
Intangibles 1 “Hard worker. Two-time team captain. Dedicated and determined to succeed. Takes nutrition and conditioning seriously. Has handled adversity well. No off the field problems to our knowledge. Received bachelor’s degree in December, 2011.”

1 = Exceptional2 = Above average3 = Average4 = Below average5 = Marginal

Inside Linebacker Specific Traits

Instincts/Recognition 2 Consistently the first Alabama LB to diagnose on tape. Is quick to react and also is disciplined and plays within the scheme. Can be a quarter-count late to diagnose counters and misdirection.
Take-on Skills 2 “Big, strong and powerful. Sinks his hips naturally and takes on blocks with good leverage. Generally disciplined and uses proper shoulder. Shows savvy versus the run, especially between the tackles. Keeps head on a swivel and can find ball carrier while taking on blocks. Also knows how to give up leverage in order to keep blocker off of his body while locating the ball. Biggest knock here is he needs to do a better job protecting lower body when working east-west.”
Range vs. Run 3 He diagnoses run quickly. Usually takes very good angles. Shows good closing burst for size. But will not make many plays versus the run outside the tackle box. Lacks initial burst and lateral agility is slightly below average.
Tackling 2 Has good size and pop at the point of attack. A thumper. Has short area power and can jar the ball carrier. Shows ability to bring legs through contact. Occasionally gets into trouble by leaving his feet in space but has long arms and makes a lot of tackles on the fringe of his range that way.
3rd Down Capabilities 2 Good awareness in coverage. Diagnoses play-action quickly and shows a good feel in underneath-middle zone. But is limited athletically. Lacks good initial burst and shows stiffness in hips. Will have man-to-man limitations. Spent more time working as an edge rusher on passing downs in 2011. Shows some savvy and power as a rusher. Good initial burst off the line and does a nice job of turning speed to power. Adept at getting underneath OTs pads and forcing the OT to respect his power. Shows some torso flexibility when bending the edge. Is developing an effective rip move and should continue to improved array of pass rush moves with more experience.

1 = Exceptional2 = Above average3 = Average4 = Below average5 = Marginal

FACT: The Vikings are hard-up for a middle linebacker for their team heading into 2012 that isn’t part Terminator. While moving on from EJ Henderson to Hightower SOUNDS like a plan, his durability issues are an obvious concern. But imagine if this guy was healthy? He woudl be a god damn beast in the middle of our defense …. If we ran a 3-4. He’s likely not a perfect fit for a Tampa-2 style middle linebacker, but I’d think you’d have to consider him as a draft pick depending on how far he fell. Currently, he’s ranked as the 40th best prospect in the draft. Could his injury concerns drop him to the top of the 3rd round? If they did, would you take a risk on such a talented player? If you’ve ever seen the dude hit someone, you know he could have a serious impact (pun!) on this team.

Also, how awesome would it be to have a player on the team with a jersey that read “HIGHTOWER.” I would hope that they spell it in all caps, naturally.

What say you?


About PJD

I once saw Paul Edinger kick a 56-yard field goal for the Minnesota Vikings against the Green Bay Packers to win a game in the Metrodome. It was exhilarating.