Why the Oakland Raiders Should Start Ben Heeney

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November 15, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) runs with the football against Oakland Raiders middle linebacker Curtis Lofton (50) during the fourth quarter at O.co Coliseum. The Vikings defeated the Raiders 30-14. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Curtis Lofton is struggling

Longtime New Orleans Saints inside linebacker Curtis Lofton signed a three-year $18 million contract with Oakland in the offseason in hopes of filling that vacant space in the middle of their defense, but unfortunately he has left it wide open. 

According to ProFootballFocus.com, Lofton has graded out as the worst linebacker among the 93 eligible linebackers in the NFL. While he is often ridiculed for his inability to maintain coverage on passing downs, Lofton is also considered one of the worst run defenders in the league. With ineffective play recognition and slow reaction time, Lofton is oftentimes out of position to make a play or forced out of the whole by linemen easily reaching the second level. 

Though Heeney has yet to prove he can remain stout against the run, his coverage ability is a drastic improvement in comparison to Lofton. Heeney also has a pass-rushing edge to him that doesn’t exist in Lofton, which could lead to more successful blitz calls with Heeney in the lineup.