4th year veteran who went undrafted in the 2016 draft out of Washington University. Has played been healthy to play in every game in his career and has started 16 games the last 2 seasons. Over those 2 seasons, he’s played 95.3% of snaps in 2018 and 94% in 2019. Featured in Wade Phillips’ complex defense, Littleton finished 8th in the league in 2019 in tackles and tied for 10th in 2018. Littleton is 26 and will not turn 27 until mid-November.
Long arms (33+) and big hands (10+”) allow Littleton the rangy ability he needs to make up for lack of size. Good AA; good sideline-to-sideline speed and does a good job translating his AA to play in the slot in shallow zone coverages and disrupt the release at the LOS. Has a good, natural feel in coverage. Good at reading the QB and reacting to throws with good pursuit angles with completions in-front of him.
Adequate size for the position; at sub 230lbs, Littleton tends to get stood-up at the LOS by better pass-blocking running backs. Adequate balance upon initial contact and adequate explosiveness. Adequate block shed; if a TE or OL can initiate the contact and get their hands on him first, he’s struggles to break loose and make a play on the ball carrier, and/or will run himself out of position trying to get around OL at the 2nd level. Adequate mental processing; easily fooled in misdirection runs and play action where he voids the area he should be in, over-pursues the fake and allows back-side plays to materialize. Adequate competitive toughness in the run game; isn’t the attacking ILB you’d like to see, or one that is projected to receiver $10M/yr in free agency. Takes poor angles and doesn’t attack downhill into blockers, or to fill open gaps. Lacks patience in the run game; takes outside pursuit angles which pulls himself out of the play and allows the ball carrier to cut it back inside.
As another high-level starter in their mid-20’s in this FA class, Littleton, in my opinion, might be the most over-valued person I’ve done so far. Throughout the film evaluation, I couldn’t help but think why does this man project to get at least $10/yr? The stats I’ve provided above have zero context; the production does not match what’s on film. He’s a good coverage ILB that does a good job keeping the short passes in front of him and allowing himself to make plays with his AA, and when you’re facing Aaron Donald, and Fowler who combined to have 24 sacks and 40 QB hits, the ball comes out quicker. In the run game, I couldn’t buy into the hype. As Charles Barkley would call it “fake hustle” Littleton over-runs plays, takes poor angles, and gets swallowed up by most linemen and TE’s but is right there as the ball carrier is brought down. In the pass rush, he provides little value rushing up the middle, and is a decent situational EDGE rusher but with Fowler and Ebukam on the ends, Littleton’s services are not needed in that capacity.
Somehow, I think Littleton will get his money; somewhere between $8-$10M because that’s just how this league works. He might even be someone who changes the draft plans of a team if signed early enough, but I feel this is a player whose fans will be looking at on their team’s books and wishing this were a deal they could get out of.