Patriots get LB Dont'a Hightower signed

The New England Patriots have their final 2012 draft pick signed, sealed and delivered. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports New England signed first-round pick, linebacker Dont'a Hightower, to a four-year contract on Wednesday.

Earlier, we highlighted Hightower and quarterback Ryan Tannehill of the Miami Dolphins as the final first-round picks in the AFC East yet to sign. Hightower will report Thursday on time when rookies are due. Tannehill has until next week on July 26.

Hightower has a chance to carve out a big role with the Patriots. New England’s defense was ranked 31st in the NFL and is willing to make changes. Hightower was part of a physically-dominating Alabama group last year in the SEC.

The Patriots hope Hightower and fellow first-round pick Chandler Jones can come in and be immediate contributors.