Each day this week leading up to Thursday’s
Background: Born and raised in Tennessee, the now-22-year-old started as a true freshman for Alabama coach Nick Saban. He blew out his knee in 2009, but returned a year later to captain a Tide defense that allowed an
Measurables: At 6-2 and 265 pounds, Hightower is on the heavy side for an inside linebacker, but he has good enough speed for his size (he ran a 4.68 in the 40-yard dash at the scouting combine).
Deserves praise: There are few visible flaws in Hightower's game, especially if you're looking at him for the 3-4. He is an intelligent linebacker who quickly diagnoses plays and takes good angles. He is a thumper, unloading his big frame on ballcarriers. And he can rush the passer, too, on occasion (four sacks in 2011). Plus he was a two-year captain at Alabama, which counts for something.
Needs work: When it comes to running guys down from sideline to sideline like
Fun factoid: Like many young linebackers, Hightower grew up idolizing Lewis (and
Quotable: “For years Baltimore has wanted a top-shelf playmaking linebacker to be trained by Ray Lewis. Here he is,” said