Dont’a Hightower: Steelers fans should be careful what they are asking for

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Look, I’m not trying to “throw shade” at Dont’a Hightower. He’s a very good inside linebacker for what he does  -an incredibly formidable run stopper. But many fans are excited about the prospect of bringing in Dont’a Hightower to start over Vince Williams, and I’m not understanding why.

I’m just not sure that he brings $8-10 million per year value – and that is his minimum price tag.

I’m digging into the numbers. Over five years, he’s defended twelve passes. And has zero interceptions. As a comparison, Lawrence Timmons, who most felt comfortable seeing walk at $6 million per year, has eight interceptions (including two last season) and 22 passes defensed.

And his draft scouting report supports his coverage issues:

Ok – so I get it. It’s because he was asked to blitz so much more than Timmons was. He wasn’t asked to cover.

Let’s run with that…

Over the past five seasons, that should mean Hightower’s sack totals were superior. Yet. Looking at the stats – they’re not. He has seventeen sacks over the past five seasons. That’s an average of about three per season. Over that same stretch, Timmons has 20.5 (each had 2.5 last season).

Hightower did add have ten quarterback pressures in 2016 – three more than Timmons – placing him at about 100th in the NFL . That’s Hightower’s per season average – not bad, but not super. As an example,  Timmons averages closer to six.

Add to these facts the fact Hightower has forced two fumbles over the past five seasons, contrasted with five for Timmons – the numbers just don’t add up in terms of Hightower’s defensive impact in the passing game. And in a pass happy league – for a team with issues covering backs and tight ends/slot receivers – that’s a big need he wouldn’t answer. And at a hefty price.

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