Brian Flores gives lofty three-time Super Bowl champ comp for Vikings rookie

Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores had high praise for rookie Dallas Turner, comparing him to a former three-time Super Bowl champion that made game-altering plays in the biggest moments.
2024 NFL Draft - Portraits
2024 NFL Draft - Portraits / Todd Rosenberg/GettyImages

The 2024 NFL Draft began with an onslaught of offensive prospects. A total of 14 offensive players were selected before a single player was picked on the defensive side of the ball, the longest stretch of offensive picks in any NFL Draft. With teams opting for offensive players, Alabama edge rusher Dallas Turner tumbled down the board.

The Minnesota Vikings, who entered the draft with the No. 11 and No. 23 overall picks, passed on Turner to select Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy with their first selection. As Turner continued to slip through the cracks, however, the Vikings traded up from No. 23 to select Turner with the No. 17 overall pick. Turner was the consensus top-ranked defensive prospect and many analysts projected him to be a top-10 selection.

The Vikings lost edge rusher Danielle Hunter in free agency, and he fills a need for defense that has struggled in recent years.

Brian Flores compares Dallas Turner to former LB Dont'a Hightower

Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores recently told reporters that Turner reminded him of another former Alabama defender: linebacker Dont'a Hightower.

"I was asked this recently," Flores said. "The name that comes to mind, and he was another Alabama player, is Dont'a Hightower. Big, fast, physical, great traits and intangibles, leadership. That's the name that comes to mind. I would say he's probably a little faster than Hightower."

Hightower was selected in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. He played nine seasons and earned three Super Bowl championships, a second-team All-Pro selection and two Pro Bowl nods.

Flores was on the Patriots coaching staff for the first seven years of Hightower's career.

Although Hightower didn't compile many personal accolades during his career, he played a vital role in the second act of the Patriots dynasty.

Super Bowl XLIX is often remembered for Malcolm Butler's goal-line interception against the Seattle Seahawks, but that play was only possible because of Hightower's heroics on the play that preceded it. On first down, the Seattle Seahawks ran the ball with running back Marshawn Lynch, who seemingly had an open lane for a touchdown. Despite playing with a torn labrum in his shoulder, Hightower bulldozed through the Seahawks left tackle and tackled Lynch short of the end zone.

Two years later, Hightower's sack-fumble against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI served as the catalyst for New England's historic comeback after trailing 28-3.

Turner has more upside as a pass rusher than Hightower, which could be useful in Flores' blitz-happy defensive scheme that dismantles offensive protection with exotic pressures. If Turner can provide the Vikings with the leadership, positional flexibility, and game-defining plays that Hightower provided New England, teams will regret letting the Alabama star slip down the board.

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