4. LB Dont’a Hightower (New England Patriots)
The hiring of new head coach Josh McDaniels could mean that the one-time Denver Broncos’ sideline boss and former Rams’ assistant could recruit a few New England Patriots’ veterans to help him with the transition. The Raiders could certainly use all the help they can get on the defensive side of the ball and a former first-round pick with plenty of playoff experience could be a wise addition.
Two-time Pro Bowler and three-time Super Bowl champion Dont’a Hightower was a first-round pick in 2012 for the Pats and has played a total of nine seasons for Bill Belichick’s club. After opting out in 2020 (COVID-19), he played and started 15 games for the playoff-bound team in 2021.
He finished sixth on the club with 64 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Admittedly, the New England defense wilted down the stretch this past year and had their issues late in the season against the run. But the addition of the well-schooled performer could help a unit that finished 19th in the league in rushing defense.
The Raiders’ new defensive coordinator is Patrick Graham, late of the New York Giants. The 31-year-old pro has 72.0 career regular-season sacks and three more quarterback traps in 17 postseason contests.