Pro Football Hall of Famer James Lofton, who is now a Hall of Fame voter, believes that Ravens kicker Justin Tucker could be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
A member of the 2003 Hall of Fame class and part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee, Lofton played in the NFL for 16 seasons and had stints with the Packers (1978-1986), Raiders (1987-1988), Bills (1989-1992), Rams (1993) and Eagles (1993). Lofton played in 233 games, finishing with 764 receptions for 14,004 yards and 75 receiving touchdowns.
In the Ravens’ 23-7 win against the Denver Broncos on Oct. 3, Baltimore did not have to rely on Tucker like they did in Detroit a week prior. Against the Lions, the Ravens relied on Tucker’s right leg in the closing seconds of the game. Tucker hit an NFL-record 66-yard field goal to beat the Lions as time expired to give the Ravens a 19-17 victory.
Kickers have been historically accurate in recent years. The all-time leaderboard is littered with active or recently retired kickers.
“When you watch these guys and watch them perform, it’s like being at a fine symphony concert,” Lofton said on Glenn Clark Radio Oct. 1 before he called the Ravens-Broncos game for CBS.
Tucker, 32, has been nearly automatic ever since he went undrafted in 2012. Tucker has made an NFL 90.66 percent of his field goals, best ever among qualified kickers. That has earned him four first-team All-Pro nods and four Pro Bowl appearances.
Lofton believes Tucker is the best kicker in the league and should eventually be enshrined in Canton. He could even be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, according to Lofton.
“Kicking has become an art form and the kickers are so proficient now,” he said. “To be the best of the best lot ever makes it an easy choice. I could very well see him not only being a Hall of Famer but a first-ballot Hall of Famer.”
There are only two full-time kickers — Morten Andersen and Jan Stenerud — enshrined in the Hall of Fame, though quarterback George Blanda and offensive lineman Lou Groza kicked as well. Of the four players, the only first-ballot Hall of Famer was Blanda, but he went in primarily for his work as a quarterback during a 26-year career.
Lofton also discussed receiver Marquise Brown’s struggles against the Lions in Week 3. Lofton believed that when Brown had his first drop during the game, he started to think about catching the ball too much, as “opposed to going out and making the play.”
Brown redeemed himself against the Broncos, catching four passes on five targets for 91 yards. One of his receptions was a 49-yard touchdown, in which he jolted past the Broncos’ defense and made a diving catch in the end zone.
Lofton compared the mindset a receiver must have to that of a golfer.
“I’m a golfer, but I’m not real good at it, so I asked one of the professionals, and he knew I had been a professional football player,” Lofton said. “I said, ‘What do you think about when you’re getting ready to hit the ball?’ And he said, ‘What do you think about when you’re trying to catch the ball?’ I said, ‘Nothing.’ And he said, ‘The same thing for us.'”
The Ravens are sitting at 3-1 following their win against the Broncos and face the 1-3 Colts on “Monday Night Football” Oct. 11.
For more from Lofton, listen to the full interview here:
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