With the 29th pick of Pride of Detroit's 2012 NFL mock draft, the Baltimore Ravens select Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower. TonyDC is serving as the Ravens' general manager, and his reasoning for the pick is below.
Going into this mock draft I noticed four areas the Ravens could focus on for help in the first two rounds: guard, safety, OLB and ILB. Bruce from Baltimore Beat Down, SB Nation's Ravens blog, confirmed this in his response, stating he would go for either of the Alabama linebackers, if they were available, possibly Mark Barron or a pure guard.So for me, this was an easy pick to make, I have to admit. I didn't expect Dont'a Hightower to be here when I made this pick for the Ravens in this mock draft, nor do I expect him to be available for the Ravens in the actual draft. That said, the Ravens have the ability to draft an heir apparent to Ray Lewis in Dont'a Hightower and he will add depth to an already stellar LB corps. As Nick Saban put it, "Inside linebacker, nickel backer, defensive end and odd rusher. He does all those things very well, he is very smart and he has leadership qualities."
The Ravens don't have a glaring need at LB at this point, especially with them re-signing Jameel McClain, but an aging Ray Lewis does seem to have lost a step over the past season or two. Add in the injuries from last season and it is becoming more and more apparent he will need to be replaced possibly sooner than later. I simply don't think they would pass up the opportunity to draft a player like Hightower and bolster a position of strength, much like the Lions did last year with the Nick Fairley selection.
Check out the 2012 Pride of Detroit Community Mock Draft tracker for a look at all of the picks.