How the Raiders Can Get the Most out of Underrated Free-Agent Add Curtis Lofton

The Oakland Raiders have signed 11 free agents this offseason. Even though they weren’t able to sign defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh or wide receiver Randall Cobb, they did manage to bring in good players in their primes.

Middle linebacker Curtis Lofton’s addition was the only head-scratcher. He’s an upgrade over Miles Burris and he’s just 28, but at $6 million per year over the next three seasons, the Raiders need him to be more than just an incremental upgrade. The Raiders need Lofton to be a very good middle linebacker.

Of course, if any brain trust in the league knows how what to look for in linebackers and how to get the most out of them, it’s probably the one in Oakland. The trio of general manager Reggie McKenzie, head coach Jack Del Rio and defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. all played linebacker in the NFL, so they should have quite a bit of insight into the position.

In Lofton, the Raiders likely see an underrated commodity. They see a linebacker who was asked to do far too much last year but who is smart, instinctive, durable and always around the ball. He’s not a playmaker, but he prevents big plays because he’s always where he should be.

What others probably see in Lofton is negative plays without positive ones to balance them out. They see all the missed tackles and the perpetually poor run defense in New Orleans. They see the effects rather than the causes.

The Raiders can get the most out of Lofton by only asking him to do what he does best. Asking Lofton to cover running backs in the flat take on blockers on every play is a recipe for failure. By letting the defensive line take on blockers and the outside linebackers take care of flat coverage of running backs, the Raiders can set Lofton up for success in 2015.

Last year, the Saints didn't do that and released him due to his performance and pay not matching up. It...

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