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Published on 04/19/2012 at Thu Apr 19 15:53.
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Donta Hightower

Dont'a Hightower, Alabam inside linebacker 2012 NFL draft prospect

Recently I have taken an in depth look at the college prospects available at our largest areas of need on offense (running back) and defense (defensive tackle (part 1, part 2). With less than two short weeks to the 2012 NFL draft I am breaking down which prospects will be on the Broncos radar pick-by-pick (Editor’s note: Geoff submitted this for review days ago. We’ll definitely lend him a hand in getting this pick-by-pick analysis ready if needed). To get the excitement flowing in ample amounts we will start, here today, at our first round pick, #25.

The RB and DT prospects I examined at this pick include Doug Martin (RB Boise State), David Wilson (RB Virginia Tech), Devon Still (DT Penn State), Michael Brockers (DT LSU), and Jerel Worthy (DT Michigan State). Many were surprised in last years draft when the Broncos selected  Texas A&M OLB Von Miller over Alabama DT Marcel Dareus. With this in mind Broncos fans must be prepared for the front office squad to select the best player available over drafting strictly for need. Here are the players that could be of great interest to the Denver Broncos at pick #25.

Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama Crimson Tide. 6’2″ 265 lbs.


Hightower is the unanimous #2 overall ILB prospect in this years draft following Boston College’s Luke Kuechly. The Denver Broncos struggled stopping the run on occasions in 2011 and have made it known they are looking to improve their defense up the middle. Aside from drafting an elite run-plugging DT taking a stout, instinctual, ILB is the best way to do so. Hightower has instincts abound. He runs downhill to the ball carrier and rushes the QB extremely well. Having Hightower, Williams, and Miller at the LB position would create a terrifying amount of blitz packages that opposing offenses would fear playing from the second they put on Bronco game tape. Hightower is also quite agile and turned in a 4.62 40 yard dash. He is very confident in his ability to cover play-making tight ends and there are zero doubts about his ability as a run stopper. Hightower is a 3 down MLB in the 4-3 defense ran in Denver and would provide the leadership and tenacity we have been missing since the retirement of Mr. Al Wilson. At Alabama they run a points system accounting for every defensive statistic including tackles for loss, forced fumbles, sacks, interceptions, etc. In 2011 Hightower ended with the most points according to this approach beating out fellow 1st round prospects SS Mark Barron, CB Dre Kirkpatrick, and DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw. Need I say more? In selecting Hightower the Broncos would have their MLB and SLB positions addressed for over the next decade. The problem is that the Pittsburgh Steelers, who select one pick before us at #24, released James Farrior this offseason and are widely expected to select the Crimson Tide prospect.

Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin Badger. 6’8″ 315 lbs.

Regardless of Denver being the sole team to have all 5 members of the Offensive line start all 16 games this season the Center position remains a topic of concern. In the link that follows J.D. Walton is presented as the worst starting Center in the NFL. ProFootballFocus has Center as being the greatest area of need for Denver this offseason.

Konz is the only elite C prospect in the draft this year. He has fantastic length at 6’8″ and was a technician in the middle of the Badgers dominating Offensive line for the past two seasons. Konz is an exceptional run blocker very capable of sealing gaps, pulling around tackles and getting to the second level. He performed well against Big 10 opponents Michgan States’ Jerel Worthy and Nebraskas’ Jared Crick. Konz has long arms and uses them very well but that can hamper ones potential in combine exercises like the bench press. Konz only managed 18 reps  at 225lbs and did not participate in the field drills. Konz is said to have reclaimed his first round grade at a confident showing at the Wisconsin Pro-day. With Konz, Kuper, and Franklin lined up along side each other our power running game would be elite.

Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama Lion. 5’10” 193lbs.

There are three very promising cornerbacks fluttering around this #25 position. Alabamas’ Dre Kirkpatrick has tremendous length and intimidating size for his position but has drawn concern from not registering any interceptions this season. He was also a little slow changing directions and getting out of breaks in his pro day drills. Many have been inclined to view him as a FS hybrid type of player to be used in zone coverages where he excels. South Carolinas’ Stephon Gilmore is another SEC product with fantastic size. A physical tackler in the same vein of Kirpatrick. Gilmore displayed incredible instinct’s all season in man, zone, and rush protection. Gilmore is a game tape fiend and his stock has been going nuclear since teams have had the opportunity to focus more on his tape and get to know him as a person. It is becoming somewhat clearer that Janoris Jenkins, formerly of the Florida Gators, may be the one to fall to #25 for the Broncos.

It is well known Jenkins has made mistakes in his past. The same is known with Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd but he is still getting top ten consideration because his University didn’t have the stones to kick him off the team. Jenkins was busted for marijuana possession, twice. On the second of which occasions he was expelled from the University of Florida. Jenkins could have been a top ten pick had he not decided to go back to school for his senior year. Jenkins’, in what I view to be a promising move, elected to finish college at Northern Alabama rather than enter the 2011 supplemental draft. In the SEC Jenkin’s showed off his top tier cover abilities in fantastic performances against receivers such as Georgias’ AJ Green, Bamas’ Julio Jones, and Gamecocks Alshon Jeffery. Jenkins is undoubtedly the best cover corner in this draft. Had he not been busted with pot for the second time he would be giving Morris Claiborne a very real run for his money as the number one defensive back in this draft. I have watched Jenkins’ interviews and he understands his mistakes. You can see his love for football and the competition that lives inside him. I believe he is the type that has matured through his mistakes and is ready to be a committed and hard working professional because playing in the NFL is his only dream. Another player with the same passion for football that has made some mistakes, Ray Lewis. Just sayin’.

Jenkins would be a starter from day one in every single defensive look the Broncos  have as well as returning kicks and punts. He can have a Tyrann Mathieu-esque presence in a game rushing the passer, stopping the runner in the backfield, breaking off huge kick returns and causing turnovers with his superb instincts. With Bailey, Porter, and Jenkins on the field in Nickel situations and Dumervil and Miller gunning for your midsection any QB would be hard pressed to keep their nerves straight.

Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor Bear. 5’10” 196lbs.

Kendall Wright had a monster season, racking up 108 receptions for 1,663 yards and 14 touchdowns from the arm of Heisman winner RG3. Many were concerned by his 4.61 40 yard dash at the combine but he improved on that time at his pro-day and he routinely gets behind the defensive backs on deep passing plays. Wright makes fantastic catches and runs crisp routes. He is a hard worker that obviously shows a knack at developing strong chemistry with his QB. The Broncos could be interested in Wright as a deep threat and Marvin Harrison type for Manning to surgically dissect opposing defenses with.

Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford Cardinal. 6’6″ 247lbs.

Tom Brady has one. Drew Brees has one. Giving Peyton Manning one would be like unleashing the Kraken. Answer: A freakish tight-end. Fleener was injured for the combine but ran mid 4.4s 40 yard dash times at his pro day and benched 225lbs 27 times. His routes were like poetry and he possesses the same unearthly sized hands as Gronk. Like Bama Saftey Mark Barron, Fleener is incredibly fluid for his position and size. Fleener is well accustomed to power run blocking having played for The Cardinal. He is a 3 down player from day one and is likely to be the next TE to put up monster statistics and give opposing defenses nightmares. Pairing him with Manning would be like unlocking the secrets to the universe. Everything would simply fall into place and our offense would be unstoppable. As with Wright, the potential of this player is maximized by having Peyton Manning in the huddle. That is what makes these two prospects look like very appetizing menu item despite having ordered it once or twice already this off season.

What do you think? Who else do you think the Broncos should consider with their first round selection? Start counting down! Brand new young athletes spouting with potential to be on the Denver Broncos roster in just a matter of days!

If the Denver Broncos don't pick a DT or RB, which player do you prefer they draft at #25?

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  • Jon

    I know Ian likes Jenkins, I really like Hightower.

  • dbroncs24/7

    One kid starting to intrigue me is Shea McClellin, he can play mlb olb
    and de. Hes got the speed to cover (4.6) and a knack for  making tackles
    for loss and sacks. We need a DT but I like the value later (Reyes,
    Thompson, Martin, Wolfe) and a versatile player who can move around and
    get to the QB is invaluable, if we add him we’d have two. Not saying I’m sold but would be intriguing with him and Von being able to rush from anywhere.… 

  • dbroncs24/7

    *I’m not completely sold*

  • Anonymous

    Tough choice between Konz and Hightower.

  • William39187

    Lamar Miller RB from the U

  • dbroncs24/7

    Terrible value at 25

  • dbroncs24/7

    J.D. Walton wasn’t as bad as people or the “statistics” say he was last year because we had an unconventional QB.  He’s started ll 32 games sense being drafted and will do better with a more conventional passing and Peyton’s quick release. I do like Hightower but he won’t make it past the Steelers before us.

  • Matthew

     Yea i agree with dbroncs24/7. awful value at 25. However, I could see us trading down with the Giants or someone else and get Miller with a later pick, while recieving more draft picks as well.

  • dbroncs24/7

    I’d be ok with trading down

  • Anonymous

    Well if Donta Hightower were available at 25 I’d like that pick. We lack at MLB big time and he’d fill that need for sure and would start this year with success.

    For those that read my posts you’ll remember months ago when I said I’d love it if we could land Stephon Gilmore. Dude is going to be great even if he is more of a zone type guy, of course its just my thought as many have shown this kind of potential and failed. I think he would be good for us though. Big, strong, fast and is a vicious hitter. Its been said in the past that Champ could possibly finish his career as a safety (ie. Rod Woodson) and I think this guy could help that in a big way. Perhaps not this year but ’13 seems feasible. With Porter (liked this pick up a bunch) on the other side, we’d have a damn strong D-Backfield.

    So yes I’d like this pick, even at 25 for sure. And yes, I like Gilmore more than Jenkins also. No need to draft a high potential for character issues!
    Konz would be another pick I’d be pretty stoked with. Yes we need D and we need depth there but I think the depth can be added later. I think we have seen with our last early round O-Linemen that picking them in the first and/or second they tend to pan out a bit better. I don’t think Knoz will last far in second but picking him at 25 wouldn’t be a bad deal either.
    If we went WR or TE in the first round I’d be down right pissed-off. The rest are very interesting prospects Geoff…

  • Scott Luthy

    Hightower is a phenomenal football player and like the Luke Kueckly kid will be great and could also play some defensive end for us.  The Steelers will not let us have him.  D-tackle is still sorely needed and hopefully the Broncos staff will find a pro bowler at the position.  Teams like New England always try and do get an advantage by selling their picks.  Trading down may make sense but you have to know it will pay dividends to do it, and you need a team willing to do so.  I would take Hightower in a heartbeat but the Steelers would want to much.  Reyes, Worthy, Poe, Brockers, should be looked at only if their going to be upgrades from the previous players we had. But it is safe to say that the D-tackle position must be addressed either in the 1st round or second round.  We need at least one or the  Broncos will regret it. 

  • Scott Luthy

    If Barron or Kirkpatrick, Gilmore make it down to us that would be also a need along with giving us great production at the strong safety position or cornerback position.  Denver should also look at Courtney Upshaw if he makes it to number 25.  He has great leveredge to play well against the run and be a very good pass rusher.

  • Scott Luthy

    I am still concerned that there will be a run on a very deep D-tackle class in the beginning of the second round continuing into the middle of the second leaving the Broncos hanging on at number 57 praying that a good enough one will be there to be solidly productive.  I like Brandon Thompson, Derek Wolfe, Kendall Reyes, Devon Still, Jerel Worthy, but will any of these players drop to 57.  Some of these players probably should be second round players but a few on this list are close to being 1st rounders into the early second.  That would not be good for the Broncos at all.

  • Mike Birtwistle

    You’d be surprised I did some research into the steelers for the mock and I reckon they will go with offensive line.

  • Anonymous

    I would be ecstatic if we were to get Hightower at 25.  IMO MLB is the number one need.  You take a DT in round 2, but you do not pass on this guy.  

    I saw where Peter King is saying the Broncos will and should draft Weeden with the first pick.  Wow. 

  • Anonymous

    I agree, MLB definitely seems like the biggest need to me.  Donta at #25 and a DT in the second round would go a long ways towards shoring up the D.  

    Oh and Peter King is smoking crack if he thinks we are going to use our 1st round draft choice to select a 28 y.o. QB who won’t play for 3-4 years.  

  • Anonymous

     True,  Walton is not as bad as claimed.  Profootballfocus struck me as being rather mendacious.  How do you claim the O-line was crap because the offense only put up 140 rushing yards on the patsies? 

  • Anonymous

     Well Elway does know what an old QB needs to win a superbowl!

  • Anonymous

    Watched this “highlight” clip of Hightower.  First half was late hits on QB’s, not wrapping up, and Hightackles.  Second half of clip he looked good.