TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 22: Dont'a Hightower #30 and Courtney Upshaw #41 of the Alabama Crimson Tide react after a defensive stop against the Tennessee Volunteers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 22, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
A reader pointed out Alabama ILB Dont'a Hightower - a consensus front-running pick for the Steelers at 24 in April's draft - landed in Pittsburgh Wednesday evening, per Hightower's Twitter account.
Hightower, along with teammate OLB Courtney Upshaw, were expected to visit Pittsburgh in one of the team's 30 pre-draft visits.
Much has been made of Hightower in SteelerNation, and fairly so. The team is thin at the inside linebacker position, and, at whatever point in the draft it may come, it's a near certainty they will spend at least one pick at the position. Against the run, there is little to fear with Hightower. He attacks downhill and has a good sense for the football. Perhaps more importantly, though, if he is to be trained in the communication-heavy buck LB position, his intelligence and football acumen must be sharp. Both appear to be pluses for Hightower, perhaps even enough to make up for only adequate pass coverage skills.
Upshaw is a different proposition. A freakishly athletic - if not a tad undersize - pass rushing prospect, Upshaw is seen by many as a guy who could be drafted anywhere from the top 10 all the way to the second round.
One particularly eye-opening comment comes from a source of Pro Football Weekly's Nolan Nawrocki, who quoted an NFL executive as saying:
"The more Courtney Upshaw talked (in the interview process), the more I got scared. He has a lot of distractions in his life. There are a lot of concerns there. We need an edge guy, but we wouldn't touch him in the first (round). I'd have hesitations in the second where we're picking, after hearing him talk about grabbing his girlfriend by the hair."
It's tough to believe such condemning statements made this time of the year, but it's enough to give one pause for thought. Is the source saying Upshaw openly discussed grabbing his girlfriend by the hair in front of coaches and/or team personnel?
Either way, the Steelers are kicking the proverbial tires on two of the mainstays of one of the better collegiate defensive teams we've seen in quite some time.