NFL Draft History: 5 best NFL players ever drafted 25th Overall
By Aaron Tully
Dont’a Hightower (2012 NFL Draft – New England Patriots)
Next on the list is a familiar face, but not so friendly for Buffalo Bills fans, and that face is Dont’a Hightower.
Hightower was highly touted coming into the 2012 NFL Draft. He was a two-time BCS National Champion, a consensus All-American, and First Team All-SEC in 2011. The Alabama linebacker landed with the New England Patriots at 25th overall in 2012 and would go on to be a staple of the Bill Bellichick defense for ten seasons.
Hightower racked up a number of accolades during his decade-long tenure with the Patriots. Among those accolades are two Pro Bowl selections (2016, 2019), a Second Team All-Pro selection in 2016, being named to the New England Patriots 2010s All-Decade Team, and three Super Bowl rings (XLIX, LI, LIII).
Throughout his decade with New England, Hightower was a solid player, accumulating 569 tackles, 27 sacks, 18 pass deflections, five fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles, two interceptions, and two defensive touchdowns. Those numbers are even better when you consider that he played just five games in 2017, and sat out the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Although Hightower’s best year in terms of awards was certainly 2016, it can be argued that his best season as a pro was 2013. Hightower posted a career-best 113 combined tackles, and three pass deflections, and it was the only season in his entire career in which he played every single game.
Hightower’s contract ran out after the 2021 season, and the Patriots let him walk. He has yet to find a new home and is reportedly mulling retirement.
If Hightower decides to call it a career, he will have completed a solid, productive, and ultimately successful career. If the Bills can land a player who has the type of career that Hightower has had at 25th overall this season, they should be grateful for it.