Colt Scout: FB Luke Lawton

Fullback Luke Lawton's days of bouncing around the NFL may be over now that he's landed on the practice squad of the Colts. Jerry Langton explains why this opportunity is different from his other ones and why the Colts picked him out of the available list of free agents.

Luke Lawton
RB, McNeese State

  5'11 (5113) / 237 pounds / 4.70 forty-speed

2006 stats: none

2005 stats:
none in four game appearances with the Jets

The player:
Lots of successful NFL players are very lucky they play where they play. Look at Robert Mathis, for example. Despite being just 235 pounds, he plays fulltime at end for the Colts and does exceedingly well. But what if he hadn't landed in Indy? Most teams would employ him as a part-time pass-rusher, where he'd be good, and still others would try him at outside linebacker, where he'd most likely fail. That's kind of how things have been for Lawton, though he is nowhere near as talented as Mathis.

There just doesn't seem to be much room in the NFL right now for a running fullback. Lawton's had trials with the Bills, Falcons, Giants and Jets - all of whom forced him to play as a pure old-skool blocking fullback and found him wanting. Lawton isn't a smashmouth blocker. Oh, he can block well enough - he's great on the move and is adept at recognizing who needs to be hit - he just doesn't splatter people. That would be okay, but all of those teams rely heavily on their fullbacks to catch a great numbers of outlet passes, especially when their quarterback is in trouble. Although Lawton has a rep as a decent pass-catcher (he had 70 receptions and 9 touchdowns in college), he didn't impress the pros. I remember seeing one preseason game when he was with the Giants in which he dropped two catchable passes. As I recall, he was cut the next day.

What Lawton did succeed at in college was running the ball - something none of those teams who signed him would allow. He doesn't have much speed or wiggle, but he is blessed with vision, instincts, quickness and strength. Lawton won't remind anyone of Joe Washington on plays to the outside, but he does get his pads down and hurt people when he hits them. He picks his holes wisely, protects the ball, has a good spin move and always falls forward. At McNeese, he rushed 245 times for 1145 yards and an outstanding 22 touchdowns. While Lawton does have some value as a special teamer, he doesn't excel in that area. He also has some experience as a long snapper, but is probably too small for that role in the NFL.

How he fits:
With Polian publicly pining for a productive pounder like he had with Larry Kinnebrew in Buffalo, things could be looking up for Lawton. While the Colts do have a shockingly productive offense, short-yardage situations have been a problem since the great Ironhead Heyward left the team. Joseph Addai is a good inside runner, but is overmatched in short-yardage situations. The Colts do occasionally play with a fullback - usually a second tight end or, before he was injured, plodding halfback James Mungro - but Lawton blocks as well as any of them and is a better tough-yards runner. With a guy like Lawton in the backfield on short-yardage the Colts could have more options - he could block for Addai, carry the ball himself, serve as an outlet or pick up a blitzer. If the Colts think that's worth a roster spot - keep in mind they only have three backs on the active roster - and that Lawton's up to the job, he may finally be in luck.

Reminds me of:
Paul Smith, a fullback who's been around the league and finds himself blocking and playing on kick coverage, but would be better off as an occasional runner.

(AP Photo/Tim Roske)

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