Coach Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots now have three former Alabama players with the additions of Cyrus Jones and Vinnie Sunseri, but one in particular is in for a major year in 2016.
Dont’a Hightower, 26, will enter his fifth NFL season this fall.
He was taken in the first round of the 2012 draft, and has been exceptional against the run, in pass coverage and pressuring quarterbacks. Hightower recorded 61 total tackles in 2015, while adding 3.5 sacks, a forced fumble and two passes defended in 12 regular-season games.
The 2014 Super Bowl champion and first-team All-Pro landed on EA Sports’ Madden 17 top five outside linebackers list, according to the gaming site on last week (Thursday, July 28).
Hightower rounded out the list at No. 5, falling behind Pernell McPhee (Chicago Bears, No. 4), Khalil Mack (Oakland Raiders, No. 3), Justin Houston (Kansas City Chiefs, No. 2) and Von Miller (Denver Broncos, No. 1). Outside linebackers are becoming more of a staple in the NFL in their abilities to eat up field with speed, as well as create negative plays against the run and pass.
Listed below is a breakdown of Hightower’s ratings via EA Sports.
Overall (OVR)- 90
Speed (SPD)- 83
Acceleration (ACC)- 88
Power moves (PMV)- 88
Pursuit (PUR)- 89
Play recognition (PRC)- 87