Insider: Hightower has 'special' talent

Posted April 23, 2012 @ 4:45 p.m.
Posted By Nolan Nawrocki

The following quotes are from NFL executives, coaches and front-office personnel, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

• "(Alabama LB) Dont'a Hightower had a great individual workout for us. We would not take him. He’d play end or "Mike" linebacker for us, and he’s going to be long gone. He’s a top-15 pick. I wish his instincts were better. But anyone who worked him out had to come away very impressed. He can really move for a man his size. He has some ‘special’ traits."

• "Look at the sack production of (Syracuse DE) Chandler Jones and tell me what there is to get excited about. He can’t beat blocks with burst. He’s a stack guy — not a sack guy. He’s not going to produce as a pass rusher, but if you’re looking for a good run defender, he can help you."

• "(Vanderbilt's Sean) Richardson is not a safety. He’s an outside linebacker for us. He has no cover skills. If you want a hitter only, he can help in the box."

• "I thought (LSU CB) Ron Brooks would be a great seventh-round pick in the fall. He was not even starting. I was hoping we’d be able to swipe one. Then he runs and tests and shot up (draft boards). I’ve heard teams talking about him in the third (round). I think they’ll sober up when the time comes and he’ll wind up somewhere in the fourth or fifth (round)."

• "(Virginia Tech’s Jayron) Hosley is not a bad player, but he has some of the same issues that DeAngelo Hall and Jimmy Williams had. He’s not very smart."

• "(Montana’s) Trumaine Johnson might be better than (Morris) Claiborne — and I really like Claiborne’s cover talent. If (Johnson) had run (a 40-time of) 4.51 instead of the 4.6s that he ran at the Combine, he would go in the first (round). He’s 6-1, 210 and he’s really a good athlete. He has 10-20 (range) talent. He’s just a (jerk). He has entitlement issues. He’s not a great worker. … He’s inching up. He might go in the back of the first (round)."

• "The more I watch (Notre Dame’s) Harrison (Smith) from Notre Dame, the more I do not think he is a slam dunk at all. I bought in initially, but he cannot catch. He has below-average hands. He can’t tackle in space. He’s just going to be a guy in the league." 

• "I know (Illinois’ Whitney) Mercilus is a good kid, but the first round is a little too pricey for me. I went back and watched him some more. Something is missing. He’s athletic and can bend, but I’m not sure how instinctive he is."

• "Is Cleveland getting a lot of pressure from the owner to take a quarterback yet? This is the third year with the Big Show (Mike Holmgren) running it, and I don’t think they can go 5-11 again, can they? They will if it’s Colt McCoy running (the offense). I think they have to reach early and take a quarterback in the first (round)."

• "No. 99 (Michigan State’s Jerel Worthy) is big, strong and fast. If you catch him in the right games, you’re thinking about him in the top 10-15. He has that kind of talent."