MLB Curtis Lofton has had a solid NFL Career: amassing 948 tackles, 8 sacks, 27 PDEF’s, 3 INT’s and 11 FF’s in 8 seasons. With the McClain suspension the Cowboys need some veteran depth at the position.
As Cas pointed out in her recent post on Scooby Wright III, Mike linebacker is the most important position on the defense because he is the quarterback of the unit. Rolando McClain has shown that he still doesn’t take his NFL career seriously, leaving Rod Marinelli without a veteran presence in the middle. I believe Curtis Lofton would bring some valuable experience and veteran leadership to a young LB corp.
- Anthony Hitchens has proven to be a serviceable backup, but is a prototypical WILL. He lacks the instincts, anticipation and coverage skills to man the middle…. He lacks bulk… Plays with a narrow base and tends to get forced out of the hole on inside runs…. Tends to bite on the play-action and struggles to get off blocks at the second level…. Needs to be in a scheme where he is protected and allowed to be a see and react WILL LB…. He has the ability to play sideline to sideline, but lacks short area burst,… ( Lofton ran a 1.55 10 yard split which is outstanding.) Struggles to get through traffic… Lacks the ability to diagnose plays that Curtis Lofton has…. Tends to take bad angles at times: especially in coverage… Struggles to change direction….
The Cowboys have high hopes for the youngsters Mark Nzeocha and Damien Wilson. However, neither has been battle tested. With the suspensions of DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, having a veteran signal caller is imperative.
It is always good to have a veteran presence rather than rely on unproven players. The addition of Keith Brooking a few years ago comes to mind. He was a fantastic locker room guy and despite his age, he made a lot of plays. Many times older players make up for what age may have taken from them physically with experience and diagnostic skills.
Curtis Lofton, ILB
Height|Weight: 6-0 246
40 time: 4.64
Bench Reps: 23
Vertical Jump: 32″
Broad Jump: 112″
NFL Experience: 8 seasons
Curtis Lofton was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft. Lofton became a starter as a rookie and ranked fourth on the team with 94 tackles (67 solo). Since 2010, Curtis Lofton led the team in tackles and had been an integral part of the defense.
Curtis Lofton signed with the New Orleans Saints on March 24, 2012 with a 5-year deal, worth up to $27.5 million. He led the Saints in tackles in the 2012 season (123) and also recorded one sack, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. It is my belief he wasn’t a good fit in Rob Ryan’s 3-4 defense, but he still had decent production. Lofton was a cap casualty in 2015 and the Saints drafted two LB’s that same year. They used both of their 2nd round picks on the position. Pick No 31: Stephone Anthony, Clemson and Pick No. 44: Hau’oli Kikaha Washington.
Lofton signed with the Oakland Raiders on March 11, 2015. According to a report released by the Raiders: $3.5 million of Curtis Lofton’s $5.35 million 2016 base salary was fully guaranteed. The $3.5 million was guaranteed for injury at signing. Apparently he sustained an arm injury week 17 and wasn’t listed on the teams injury report. The Raiders released Lofton in March of 2016 with a “Failed physical” designation to avoid paying him the guaranteed money.
In a coinciding move the Raiders also released Nate Allen. His $4.9 million 2016 base salary was fully guaranteed. Allen’s base salary was guaranteed for injury at signing too. What ultimately happened was Nate Allen was released and then later resigned to a more cap friendly one year deal. Lofton was not.
- Curtis Lofton has a stocky frame with a thick chest, broad shoulders and muscular legs…. Looks the part of a Mike LB…. Has excellent speed and short area burst…. Rangy…. Instinctive player with the speed to close…. Solid wrap up tackler…. His instincts, closing speed and ability to get through traffic make him a better fit in the middle of a 4-3 than a 3-4…. Moves well laterally and takes good angles…. Holds up well at the point…. Has the vision to diagnose and the necessary read and react skills… Smooth and flexible in pursuit….
- Has the feet to get good depth when dropping in to coverage…. Excellent when it comes to slipping blocks on the move…. Will fly all the way across the field to deliver a brutal hit…. Hard working, smart and very intelligent…. Understands his assignments and is rarely out of position on a play…. Plays with good pop and has the power to take on ball carriers head on…. Always plays through the whistle…. Equally effective against the run or the pass…. Tracks the ball well when it’s in the air…. Understands blocking schemes and has the quickness to avoid them…. Plays with good pad level inside and does a nice job of slipping blocks….
- Quick to diagnose inside run plays and not afraid to take on lead blockers in an attempt to stack and shed…. Will stuff the FB and clog up the running play by lowering his shoulders and sticking his head in his chest…. Has the upper body strength to knock TE’s off of their route…. Has the speed to fly to the edge and push run plays back inside… Can line up over the tight end, plays off blocks and takes good angles when chasing down outside run plays…. Has quick feet and smooth hips to mirror receivers…. Good blitzer with a surprising bull rush for his size…. Smart, quick, physical linebacker with excellent vision and instincts….
I have no idea as to the severity of the arm injury he sustained in week 17 of the 2015 season, but if he is healthy, I believe he still has some tread on his tires. He amassed almost 70 tackles in 9 starts in Oakland last year. He still moves well at 31 and I believe he would add some much needed veteran experience in the absence of Rolando McClain. If the Cowboys could sign him on a cap friendly deal, he would be the insurance policy they need in the middle. Curtis Lofton would make a solid bridge player for Rod Marinelli in the absence of McClain.