Thursday, April 26, 2012
Trade down for Alabama LB Dont'a Hightower?
By Tim MacMahon
Jason Garrett’s attendance at Alabama’s pro day instantly increased speculation that the Cowboys would pick safety Mark Barron, outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw or cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick in the first round.
All indications are that the Cowboys would be extremely pleased if Barron is still on the board when they get on the clock with the 14th overall pick.
If Barron and other targets are gone, Jerry Jones could attempt to trade down, gaining extra picks to move toward the bottom of the first round. In that scenario, there is a strong possibility that the Cowboys could target the fourth potential first-round pick from the Crimson Tide’s top-ranked, national-title defense: linebacker Dont’a Hightower.
Hightower primarily played inside linebacker at Alabama, but he has the size (6-foot-2 ¼, 265 pounds) and speed (4.65 40) to be a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL.
“No doubt,” Alabama coach Nick Saban told ESPN Dallas 103.3’s Ian Fitzsimmons in an interview that aired on “Galloway and Company” this week. “He can play outside. He’s been a designated pass rusher for us on third down for us. He’s also been a stand-up buck fourth rusher, drop. In X-package, when they put all the linebackers in there, he can play any one of those positions.
“He’s a very smart guy. He’s a signal caller that has really good leadership qualities and understands football really well and has a lot of diversity in terms of how you can use him. When you have guys that size, that speed and that athletic that can do that many things, those guys don’t come around that often.”