FOXBOROUGH – When top guard David DeCastro fell in the draft to where the Steelers could not pass on him, it allowed Alabama OLB Dont’a Hightower to get past the team most thought would take him.
That allowed the Patriots to pounce on Hightower, who will absolutely be gunning for a starting spot, likely at strong-side linebacker where Rob Ninkovich has been the starter.
Hightower (6-2, 265 pounds with 4.68 speed) played inside linebacker for the Crimson Tide, but he can play a variety of positions for the Patriots. Both Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes missed time last season. Hightower can slip over there if needed, and he has also put his hand on the ground and rush in nickel and dime.
Hightower is a Bill Belchick football player through and through.
With the selection of Chandler Jones, who will likely need some seasoning, and Hightower, the Patriots’ front seven depth chart looks like this:
LDE: Jonathan Fanene/Brandon Deaderick.
NT: Vince Wilfork, Ron Brace
DT: Kyle Love, Myron Pryor, Fanene
End/OLB: Trevor Scott, Chandler Jones, Jermaine Cunningham, Markell Carter (Andre Carter could be the starter here if he is re-signed).
SLB: Dont’a Hightower, Rob Ninkovich
MLB: Brandon Spikes, Hightower, Dane Fletche
WLB: Jerod Mayo, Hightower, Jeff Tarpinian