You heard it here first…on February 23rd.

With the 14th pick of the 2012 National Football League Draft, the Dallas Cowboys select:

Dont’a Hightower – LB – Alabama

124049323 Bill Jones Cowboys Mock Draft 2012

Linebacker Dont'a Hightower #30 of the Alabama Crimson Tide (Photo by Greg McWilliams/Getty Images)

Hightower played inside linebacker in Nick Saban’s 3-4 defense at Alabama.  He was the unquestioned leader of the defense, calling all the plays, and playing some as a rush defensive end in passing situations.  It’s that latter role that I project Hightower, at 6-4 and 260 pounds, playing with the Cowboys – a hybrid OLB/DE/ILB who can be used wherever Rob Ryan wants to in his front seven.

Hightower is projected as a late 1st round or early 2nd round selection by most draft analysts.  I presume that’s because they don’t believe he will run fast at the combine this weekend.  We shall see.  I also assume those draft analysts have yet to do their research on Hightower’s intangibles, which include leadership qualities and a work ethic that Nick Saban and Hightower’s Alabama teammates rave about.

Much more analysis to come after I watch the combine, but here’s my Pre-Combine Cowboys Mock Draft:

Note:  I anticipate the Cowboys will sign a veteran cornerback and offensive guard in free agency prior to the draft, and I also expect the Cowboys to be awarded a supplemental 4th round pick after losing Stephen Bowen to a big Redskins contract in free agency last year.

1)     Dont’a Hightower – LB – Alabama – 6-4, 260

2)     Dwayne Allen – TE – Clemson – 6-4, 255

3)     Harrison Smith – SS – Notre Dame – 6-2, 212

4a)  Kirk Cousins – QB – Michigan State – 6-2, 209

4b)  Ryan Broyles – WR – Oklahoma – 5-10, 188

5)     Derek Wolfe – DE – Cincinnati – 6-5, 286

6)     Ron Brooks – CB – LSU – 5-11, 178

7)     Greg McCoy – CB – TCU – 5-10, 182

More From CBS Dallas / Fort Worth

Drip Pan: CBS Local App
Drip Pan: Weather App

Watch & Listen LIVE