How could the front 7 look next year

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VrabelJr

Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract
Umm, yes he is.

What about him makes you think he's an OLB in a 3-4 or 4-3? The only time I see him getting snaps at OLB would be in the Nickel at the SAM spot because Ninkovich will be at DE most likely.

Hightower has fantastic (and rare) side line to side line speed, especially for his size. Why would we waste that on a position that is all about fast twitch reaction and straight line speed?
 

Ring 6

PatsFans.com Wall of Fame Member
What about him makes you think he's an OLB in a 3-4 or 4-3? The only time I see him getting snaps at OLB would be in the Nickel at the SAM spot because Ninkovich will be at DE most likely.

Hightower has fantastic (and rare) side line to side line speed, especially for his size. Why would we waste that on a position that is all about fast twitch reaction and straight line speed?

Fantastic and rare sideline to sideline speed? Hightower?

Hightower has prototypical 34 OLB run defense skills. He is stout, sets the edge and seperates from blockers.
He has solid zone coverage recognition and reaction skill.
He has demonstrated good pass rush skills.
I see him very much like Vrabel when he was paired with better passrushers like McG and Colvin and was a complete, all around OLB, not a standup 43 DE.

As far as sideline to sideline speed, A he doesn't have it, and B if he did, what does that do for you as an ILB in a 2gap 43?
 

Ring 6

PatsFans.com Wall of Fame Member
What about him makes you think he's an OLB in a 3-4 or 4-3? The only time I see him getting snaps at OLB would be in the Nickel at the SAM spot because Ninkovich will be at DE most likely.

Hightower has fantastic (and rare) side line to side line speed, especially for his size. Why would we waste that on a position that is all about fast twitch reaction and straight line speed?

Excerpt from the first scouting report I found.

Doesn't play at the same speed on film as he ran at the combine, had drawn comparisons to former Florida and current New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes who ran a 5.01-40 at his pro day prior to the 2010 Draft; does not go sideline to sideline very well,

Read more at Sideline Scouting: Sideline Scouting - Dont'a Hightower Scouting Report


the second:

Pursuit: Hightower shows his athleticism with his short-area quickness. For a big linebacker, it's rare to see the quick-twitch movements like Hightower possesses. Is a little deficient moving around sideline-to-sideline to make plays. He's much more of a straight-ahead player who struggles to open up his hips and get around the field.
Dont'a Hightower 2012 NFL Draft scouting report - Mocking The Draft


The 3rd
However, plays fast in tight areas and allows him to excel at finding the ball carrier through traffic. Quite nimble for his size. Lacks an explosive first step both when at linebacker and when playing as an end. Doesn’t have great sideline-to-sideline range



All list sideline to sideline range as a weakness and quick twitch as a strength
 

VrabelJr

Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract
I think his game film says the opposite.

edit: Sorry, I should have been more specific. No I don't expect Hightower to be making tackles outside the hashes but I think he covers the box really well which is sure signs of a Mike ILB imo. Tedy Bruschi had a great chat the one day about ILBs who look like pass rushers because they have great instincts as "huggers." Hugging is when you're in charge of the RB on that play and you have to make a decision to control the gap or shoot it based on whether the RB is running or staying in to protect. I think Hightower is one of those guys with great hugging instincts that misleads a lot of people to think he is a pass rusher.
 
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Ring 6

PatsFans.com Wall of Fame Member
I think his game film says the opposite.
I think it doesn't. That is why we disagree, and I showed evidence to back up my position.
Do you have a single scouting report, comment, or anything of the sort that lists sideline to sideline ability as fantastic, rare, or even not a weakness?
If your point is you believe it and don't care if everyone disagrees, you still feel that way, that is fine, but you probably shouldn't jump into discussions acting like you have an indisputable opinion. Just my 2 cents.
 

Ring 6

PatsFans.com Wall of Fame Member
edit: Sorry, I should have been more specific. No I don't expect Hightower to be making tackles outside the hashes but I think he covers the box really well which is sure signs of a Mike ILB imo. Tedy Bruschi had a great chat the one day about ILBs who look like pass rushers because they have great instincts as "huggers." Hugging is when you're in charge of the RB on that play and you have to make a decision to control the gap or shoot it based on whether the RB is running or staying in to protect. I think Hightower is one of those guys with great hugging instincts that misleads a lot of people to think he is a pass rusher.

Wait, Yo'ur first answer was he has RARE sideline to sideline speed, now you are saying he doesn't but 'covers the box really well' which I'm not sure I know what that means. And now you are saying that he lacks pass rush skills because you think everyone assessing his pass rush skills misunderstood that he was covering the RB?
Would you like to link this Bruschi comment since you are using it to imply Bruschi agrees with you?
 

manxman2601

Hall of Fame Poster
I think it doesn't. That is why we disagree, and I showed evidence to back up my position.
Do you have a single scouting report, comment, or anything of the sort that lists sideline to sideline ability as fantastic, rare, or even not a weakness?
If your point is you believe it and don't care if everyone disagrees, you still feel that way, that is fine, but you probably shouldn't jump into discussions acting like you have an indisputable opinion. Just my 2 cents.

I think saying Hightower lacks sideline to sideline range is a little unfair. When you watch the tape, you see him make plays preventing plays getting around him at the sideline all the time. The LSU championship game is a great example. Hightower shut down the wide run plays and option game at the edges consistently. similarly, comparing his speed to Spikes is completely unwarranted. Spikes ran a 5.0+ 50, Hightower a 4,69 40. Getting to the sideline is not just about speed, it's about angles and anticipation and Hightower excels in both areas.

I think too many people are missing the point on Hightower by trying to force him into one position. He's the front 7's Hernandez. BB will be able to position him in a variety of ways to get the best of skills as a great tackler, a forceful, rather than quick-twitch) pass rusher and an outstanding blitzer. He's an SLB, MLB, OLB and occasional DE. Whatever the situation calls for, BB will use him in that way.

One final thought. I don't know whether BB felt he needed Hightower or whether, at that stage of the draft, he was by far the best player and value on the board. He clearly wasn't enamoured with the quality in the second round and if you look at the picks following Hightower, there was an OG, three offensive skill position players, a seriously overrated safety and two linear pass rushers that I never really thought were BB fits. All players that I suspect that BB felt he couldn't use as effectively as Hightower.
 

Ring 6

PatsFans.com Wall of Fame Member
I think saying Hightower lacks sideline to sideline range is a little unfair.
Its not unfair, its just his skill set. He is not a 230 lb MLB who's game is based upon chasing in a defense designed to keep blockers off of him.


When you watch the tape, you see him make plays preventing plays getting around him at the sideline all the time. The LSU championship game is a great example. Hightower shut down the wide run plays and option game at the edges consistently. similarly, comparing his speed to Spikes is completely unwarranted. Spikes ran a 5.0+ 50, Hightower a 4,69 40. Getting to the sideline is not just about speed, it's about angles and anticipation and Hightower excels in both areas.
There is no doubt he has excellent LB skills. But the poster said he has fanstastic (rare) sideline to sideline speed, and that is not his skillset. It doenst really matter because he isn't going to be asked to do that here anyway.

I think too many people are missing the point on Hightower by trying to force him into one position. He's the front 7's Hernandez. BB will be able to position him in a variety of ways to get the best of skills as a great tackler, a forceful, rather than quick-twitch) pass rusher and an outstanding blitzer. He's an SLB, MLB, OLB and occasional DE. Whatever the situation calls for, BB will use him in that way.
BB rarely has used that approach though. He certainly can have one role in a 34, another in a 43, and another (or a few) in sub.
I described him as similar to a Vrabel pre2007 when he did everything a LB does.

One final thought. I don't know whether BB felt he needed Hightower or whether, at that stage of the draft, he was by far the best player and value on the board. He clearly wasn't enamoured with the quality in the second round and if you look at the picks following Hightower, there was an OG, three offensive skill position players, a seriously overrated safety and two linear pass rushers that I never really thought were BB fits. All players that I suspect that BB felt he couldn't use as effectively as Hightower.
Oh, I think he went up to get him. He has shown no hesitation to trade down when he can't get what he wants. I don't think he took Hightower simply because he was the best player on the board, scheme fit or not.
 

Marqui

Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract
I think too many people are missing the point on Hightower by trying to force him into one position. He's the front 7's Hernandez. BB will be able to position him in a variety of ways to get the best of skills as a great tackler, a forceful, rather than quick-twitch) pass rusher and an outstanding blitzer. He's an SLB, MLB, OLB and occasional DE. Whatever the situation calls for, BB will use him in that way.
Now I buy this, but Hightower definitely isn't just an ILB to replace Spikes or whatever. As you said he'll play everywhere like Vrable use to.
 

cupofjoe1962

PatsFans.com Supporter
PatsFans.com Supporter
Assuming a base 3-4, the Pats are missing a starting caliber DE unless Brace emerges...and even he doesn't have optimal height/reach. Warren could be brought back as a stop-gap or Love/Wilfork could play side-by-side, but in general that is a roster hole.

I believe the Ron Brace ship has already sailed.
 

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ay-yo

Third String But Playing on Special Teams
I think his game film says the opposite.

edit: Sorry, I should have been more specific. No I don't expect Hightower to be making tackles outside the hashes but I think he covers the box really well which is sure signs of a Mike ILB imo. Tedy Bruschi had a great chat the one day about ILBs who look like pass rushers because they have great instincts as "huggers." Hugging is when you're in charge of the RB on that play and you have to make a decision to control the gap or shoot it based on whether the RB is running or staying in to protect. I think Hightower is one of those guys with great hugging instincts that misleads a lot of people to think he is a pass rusher.

I agree with this 100%. Hightower is a great blitzer from what I've seen. I think he will play more coverage than many expect w/ the option to blitz if his assignment stays in.
 

VrabelJr

Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract
I feel like a lot of people have selective memory regarding Hightower and might confuse him and Upshaw. Alabama lined Upshaw up all over the place, not Hightower. I think I saw Hightower come off the edge in 1-2 games at most, and sparingly at that. It was Upshaw who was 3 pointing at DE, 2 pointing at DE, off the line at SLB, and behind the line at ILB.

Hightower on the other hand was ILB on pretty much all of his snaps. On 1st & 2nd down he was a little further off the LOS and on 3rd he was playing a lot closer.
 

Seneschal2

In the Starting Line-Up
Alabama lined Upshaw up all over the place, not Hightower. I think I saw Hightower come off the edge in 1-2 games at most, and sparingly at that. It was Upshaw who was 3 pointing at DE, 2 pointing at DE, off the line at SLB, and behind the line at ILB.

Hightower on the other hand was ILB on pretty much all of his snaps. On 1st & 2nd down he was a little further off the LOS and on 3rd he was playing a lot closer.

Nick Saban has a different opinion on Hightower:

He can play inside or outside backer, he can play mike or will inside. He’s played them both here. He can play outside, he’s been a designated pass rusher on 3 downs for us. He’s also been a stand-up fourth rusher when they put all the linebackers in there. He can play any one of those positions. He’s a smart guy, he’s a signal caller that has really good leadership qualities and understands football extremely well and has a lot of diversity in terms of how you can use him. When you’ve got guys that size, that speed and that athletic who can do so many things, those guys don’t come around very often.
Nick Saban: If he lands in a 3-4 defense, Courtney Upshaw bound for 'very good career' | Dallas Cowboys News - Sports News for Dallas, Texas - SportsDayDFW
 

Ring 6

PatsFans.com Wall of Fame Member
I feel like a lot of people have selective memory regarding Hightower and might confuse him and Upshaw. Alabama lined Upshaw up all over the place, not Hightower. I think I saw Hightower come off the edge in 1-2 games at most, and sparingly at that. It was Upshaw who was 3 pointing at DE, 2 pointing at DE, off the line at SLB, and behind the line at ILB.

Hightower on the other hand was ILB on pretty much all of his snaps. On 1st & 2nd down he was a little further off the LOS and on 3rd he was playing a lot closer.


It seems like you are the one describing the wrong player. You described his weakenesses and strengths backwards, then said you meant to say something totally different than you said, and went on to contradict your own post. Now as just pointed out by another posted, you are contradicting Nick Saban about how he used him.
 

VrabelJr

Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

Nice try. If you unbold that quote and the read all of it it is completely in align with what I said. Mike and Will are the ILB positions in a 3-4. Will is also an OLB in a 4-3. When I'm saying Hightower won't be an OLB in our scheme (except for in the Nickel which I've said 1000 times) I'm referring to the SAM LB position.

Btw, that quote is from Nick Saban. He's the ultimate salesmen of college football. What do you expect him to say?

edit: Since we're cherry picking quotes out of context to look smart (and because AndyJohnson has wive's syndrome) here's one for all of you regarding Hightower's athleticism:

When you’ve got guys that size, that speed and that athletic who can do so many things, those guys don’t come around very often.
 
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Ring 6

PatsFans.com Wall of Fame Member
Nice try. If you unbold that quote and the read all of it it is completely in align with what I said. Mike and Will are the ILB positions in a 3-4. Will is also an OLB in a 4-3. When I'm saying Hightower won't be an OLB in our scheme (except for in the Nickel which I've said 1000 times) I'm referring to the SAM LB position.

Btw, that quote is from Nick Saban. He's the ultimate salesmen of college football. What do you expect him to say?

edit: Since we're cherry picking quotes out of context to look smart (and because AndyJohnson has wive's syndrome) here's one for all of you regarding Hightower's athleticism:

I don't understand what your attempted insult toward me means. Maybe you can explain.
Not sure how that comment from Saban that you highlighted says he won't play OLB.


By the way the question to Saban was can he play 34 OLB, and the answer started with no doubt.
I'm not sure why you are implying Saban would lie.
 
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