NFL Draft 2012: Why Dont'a Hightower Is a Dark Horse First-Round Pick for KC

Bill RobbinsCorrespondent IApril 25, 2012

AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 26:  Dont'a Hightower #30 of the Alabama Crimson Tide calls the defense against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on November 26, 2011 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

For the last several weeks, many NFL Draft experts have been mocking either ILB Luke Kuechly or G David DeCastro to go to the Chiefs with their No. 11 overall pick in the upcoming draft tomorrow night.

Both of these picks would make sense for different reasons.

On one hand, Kuechly would be an instant upgrade at inside linebacker for KC and could possibly turn the Chiefs defense into one of the top units in the league next season.

On the other hand, taking DeCastro with this pick would give the Chiefs one of the youngest and most talented offensive lines for years to come.

Then, there's always plan C.

In this case, a third option might be to trade down and select ex-Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower later in the first round.

Behind Kuechly, Hightower is easily the second best ILB prospect in this year's draft class.

Unlike Kuechly, he is more of a thumper-type player and known for his big hits at that position.

Last year, he had 83 tackles and four sacks while playing for one of the best defenses in all of college football.

He's also an athletic freak that can make some plays that many other LB prospects in this draft cannot make.

Plus, Hightower is a high character guy who was a team captain while playing for the Crimson Tide.

What could get any better than a guy that could come in and start at a position of need that is already a leader?

That's something that Scott Pioli and Co. will have to decide on tomorrow night.

If the Chiefs aren't sold on either Kuechly or DeCastro with their first pick, don't be surprised if they try to trade down to land Hightower later in the same round.

Stay tuned, Chiefs nation.