Brian Flores Drops an Interesting Comparison for New Vikings Pass Rusher

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

The 2024 NFL Draft lived up to the hype for Minnesota Vikings fans as the team landed their QB of the future and a potential edge rushing star.

Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores was excited and even had a bit of shock when he found out he would be coaching Alabama product Dallas Turner. The coach also had a very interesting comparison for Turner as the edge rusher gets ready to begin his NFL career.

Brian Flores Has an Interesting Comparison for New Vikings Defender

Brian Flores
Sep 24, 2022; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Dallas Turner (15) celebrates after defeating the Vanderbilt Commodores at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama won 55-3. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

“The name that comes to mind, and he was another Alabama player, is Dont’a Hightower. Big, fast, physical, great traits, intangibles, leadership. That’s the name that comes to mind. I would say [Turner is] a little faster than Hightower,” Flores explained.

This is an interesting comparison for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it comes just after Nick Saban, the longtime head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide, made the exact same comparison on live television when the Vikings drafted Turner.

Of course, Saban coached both Hightower and Turner throughout their Alabama careers, so he certainly knows what he is talking about when making such a comparison in terms of their playstyles. “People keep comparing him to Will Anderson; he’s more like Dont’a Hightower. He went inside, he got outside, we stood him up, he’s a good rusher. He can take gaps inside. So I think the versatility is phenomenal,” Saban explained on ESPN.

Nov 17, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New England Patriots outside linebacker Dont’a Hightower (54) celebrates a sack with outside linebacker Elandon Roberts (52) during the third quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, Hightower would go on to have a very successful career with the New England Patriots, which included being a part of three Super Bowl championships. During the early portion of his stint in New England, Hightower was coached by Flores. The current Vikings defensive coordinator was in New England during each of the first seven seasons of Hightower’s NFL career and was the linebackers coach from 2016-2018.

During Hightower’s 10-year NFL career (entirely played in New England), he put together 569 tackles, 43 tackles for loss, 27 sacks, 18 passes defended, and an interception while being named to the Pro Bowl twice.

The interesting part of the Hightower comparison is the fact that the former Patriots linebacker was much more of an off-ball linebacker throughout his career. Many are hoping for Turner to become the Danielle Hunter replacement in Minnesota’s defense with his pass rushing ability, but the new Vikings linebacker has traits that could make him a versatile player like Hightower who can line up all over the field.

Dec 31, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Dallas Turner (15) reacts during the first half against the Cincinnati Bearcats in the 2021 Cotton Bowl college football CFP national semifinal game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Hightower was very effective as a pass rusher, but he also made plenty of impact as a run defender and in pass coverage. Turner certainly needs to work on his abilities against the run by refining his technique a bit, but it isn’t impossible for him to get better in that department. His 8.86 Relative Athletic Score would suggest that he is plenty capable of keeping up with tight ends in coverage as well.

The point is, folks, there may be multiple routes toward success for Turner at the NFL level. Flores should have a ton of fun molding the former Alabama linebacker at the NFL level.

Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via Pro Football Reference.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.