3. Dont'a Hightower, Patriots
One of the great surprises of the Patriots' Super Bowl appearance last year, is they arrived there without Hightower, who missed all but the first five games of the season with a torn pectoral muscle. All you need to know about his value to the club, though, is with impossible salary-cap decisions to make, Bill Belichick chose to keep Hightower over Chandler Jones, Jamie Collins, Akiem Hicks, Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler. Hightower, who plays the game running downhill, is the master of the big hit in the hole on running plays, while also being extremely effective rushing the passer. At 6-3, 265 pounds, he is a huge presence at the second level and another four-down ‘backer.