Hightower has always been an enigma to me, from the day when he was picked. He's obviously a very solid player, but I just never understood the fit. Lavonte David was my binky in 2012, and he played at a DPOY level in 2013 (145 tackles, 7 sacks, 2 FF, 10 PD and 5 INTs). I try not to get caught up in "what could have been scenarios", but of all the missed opportunities the one that most haunts me is that the Pats could have taken Harrison Smith at 25 and David at 48, and had a defense that looks like this: DL: Ninkovich - Wilfork - Easley - Jones LB: Collins (SAM) - Mayo (MLB) - David (WLB) S: McCourty - Smith DB: Revis - Browner - Dennard/Ryan - Arrington As I mentioned elsewhere, Hightower has nice burst and explosiveness (his 1.58 10 yard split is comparable to that of Ryan Shazier, Von Miller and Jadeveon Clowney) but horrible mobility (his 7.55 3-cone and 4.64 short shuttle wore worse than those of many offensive linemen). He's just not a guy who is well equipped to play in space. I personally think that Hightower's best chance of success is to play a "buck" role similar to what Donte Fowler currently plays for Will Muschamp (and to how Muschamp used Brian Orapko at Texas). Make him essentially a line player who moves forward, whether standing up or rushing from a 3 point stance, and limit him in space. The main problem with that right now is that I'm not sure Hightower would be better in that role than Rob Ninkovich, and the Pats are very thin at LB. I think it's a no-brainer that the Pats pick up Chandler Jones' 2016 option next spring, but I think it's still a very open question as to whether they do so for Hightower. He's a solid player, but is he worth $7M/year or more? He'll need to show a lot more this year to justify that kind of investment, IMHO.