Pittsburgh Steelers Select Dont'a Hightower in Rant Sports 2012 NFL Mock Draft

By Brandon Bonsell

The 2012 NFL draft is little over one month away from kicking off. The front offices of all 32 teams are scrambling to figure out which players are going to fit in the best with their respective teams. The Pittsburgh Steelers need to have a good draft because they have not made any noise in free agency up to this point. They even lost longtime team leader Hines Ward to retirement. Ward was the heart and soul of the Black and Gold, and will be difficult to replace.

With that being said, Pittsburgh has greater needs on the defensive side of the ball. The Steelers would like to get younger on the both sides up the ball, but defense is a greater concern.

Linebacker Dont’a Hightower would be a perfect fit in Pittsburgh’s defensive scheme and he’s the 24th overall pick in the Rant Sports 2012 NFL Mock Draft. The Steelers released James Farrior earlier this month, and management needs to think of how to replace him. Hightower is a versatile player and can play both inside and outside linebacker. Pittsburgh should use the 24th overall pick on Alabama linebacker, Dont’a Hightower.

Alabama’s defense dominated this past season, and Hightower was a major part of their success. The unit held opposing offenses to 8.8 points per game, including a shutout victory over LSU in the national championship game. Although Hightower wasn’t as well-known as fellow linebacker Courtney Upshaw, cornerback Dre Kirkpartick, or safety Mark Barron; he was just as important and his presence allowed his teammates to shine. He fits very well alongside Lawrence Timmons and James Harrison. They would be a fearsome trio of linebackers.

Hightower stands at 6’4” and weighs roughly 260, the ideal size you want for a linebacker. He brings strength and the physical presence to a defense that already has a very intimidating player. Hightower is big enough to play the run and has the ability to cover tight ends in the passing game.

With Hightower being the Steelers’ first round selection, they can shift their focus to improving the offensive line with their later picks in the draft. They could also use a running back to add depth to a depleted core with the loss of Rashard Mendenhall. Pittsburgh still has some issues at other positions, but Hightower will be a great fit for the team and will have no problem stepping in and replacing James Farrior.

Hightower has the potential to be a 10 year starter in the league and provide great leadership to the defense.

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