Mock thoughts: Hightower & Worthy

March, 24, 2012
3/24/12
3:00
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Over the last week and a half, the Patriots' busy free-agent activity has put some of the draft chatter on the back burner.

So let's ease our way back into it by passing along Don Banks' 3.0 mock draft on SI.com. Like others, Banks focuses on defense for the Patriots and envisions a scenario where Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower is the pick at No. 27.
"Hightower is a versatile and instinctive player who seems ready-made for the New England defense, and we know Bill Belichick and Nick Saban look for the same kind of players and trust each other's judgment," Banks writes.

Then, at No. 31, Michigan State defensive lineman Jerel Worthy is the choice.
"With the Patriots taking Alabama inside linebacker Dont'a Hightower at No. 27, they can fill another front-seven need with Worthy, one of the many defensive tackles with first-round grades," Banks writes. "Worthy could play in the Patriots' D-line rotation initially and perhaps develop into Vince Wilfork's successor down the road a bit."

To read Banks' mock draft, CLICK HERE.

QUICK-HIT THOUGHT: Hightower's fit in the Patriots' scheme would likely be as an inside linebacker. He measured 6-foot-2 and 265 pounds at the combine, so the initial thought is that he might duplicate what the Patriots already have in Brandon Spikes. But perhaps the Patriots view a different type of fit for him. As for Worthy, the Patriots figure to target a lineman early and Worthy could be a solid addition on the interior to pair with Vince Wilfork and Kyle Love. While the Patriots probably have a greater need at end, they could potentially address that spot in the second round.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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