New England Patriots: Top 5 NFL Draft picks of the 2010s

New England Patriots (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
New England Patriots (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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Dont'a Hightower, New England Patriots
Dont’a Hightower, New England Patriots (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

4. 2012 NFL Draft Round 1, Pick 25: Dont’a Hightower, LB

Bill Belichick is always looking for players who can impact the game in a variety of ways. The New England Patriots value versatility more than any team in the NFL and their love for versatility particularly stands out at the linebacker position.

Dont’a Hightower entered the league as an inside linebacker prospect who primarily shined as a run defender. He has always had a nice combination of skills, but Hightower was undoubtedly more of a big, thumping linebacker whose primary value seemed to come on early downs. If Hightower was entering the league now, he would likely be considered a player who does not fit the modern game well and would slide down draft boards.

That being said, he quickly grew into an incredibly important player in the Patriots’ defense and has consistently been able to impact the game in a variety of ways. He has always been a strong run defender, but Hightower has also grown into an impact pass rusher who can create pressure on the edge.

Hightower uses a combination of quickness and power to consistently create pressure from the outside. He is a crafty rusher who never gives up on the play and will continue to be a stable presence for the Patriots on the defensive side of the ball. Hightower is arguably the most important defensive player for the New England Patriots this decade. He was an obvious addition to this list.