Donta Hightower brings a unique blend of athleticism and toughness to the middle linebacker spot. He has looked great at that spot for many years. This approach has worked very well, and Hightower’s two big plays in both recent Superbowls is enough for this old-school Pats fan to be happy.
I’ve assumed that when he signed his big, shiny, new contract, that the Pats would plug him back in that spot and not think about it for 3-5 years. (Health permitting).
I just had a realization however, that the David Harris signing changes everything. Harris is the quintessential middle linebacker. He is a two down jackhammer that can wear the green dot and take the majority of the hits in the middle of the field. Now, with most of our defensive ends either retiring (Ninkovich) or injured (Rivers, Wise)…Could Hightower be utilized as and end of the line player?
I’m not talking about how he can stand up and rush from the linebacker position. I’m talking about three point stance, set the edge, rush the passer type of defensive end. Hightower is 6’4” and 270 lbs, so I think he can fit the bill (Chandler Jones is 6’5” and 260 lbs and Jabaal Sheard is 6’2” 255 lbs for example).
Taking a top linebacker and putting him on the defensive line is certainly out of the box, but what better coach to throw us a curve ball than Bill Belichick?