Anthony Hitchens

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Anthony Hitchens
refer to caption
Hitchens in 2017
No. 53 – Kansas City Chiefs
Position: Linebacker
Personal information
Born: (1992-06-10) June 10, 1992 (age 26)
Lorain, Ohio
Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight: 235 lb (107 kg)
Career information
High school: Lorain (OH) Clearview
College: Iowa
NFL Draft: 2014 / Round: 4 / Pick: 119
Career history
Roster status: Active
Career NFL statistics as of Week 2, 2018
Total tackles: 330
Sacks: 3.5
Forced fumbles: 2
Fumble recoveries: 0
Interceptions: 1
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

Anthony Hitchens (born June 10, 1992) is an American football linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He played college football at the University of Iowa.

Early life[edit]

Hitchens was raised by his mother, Norma Hitchens, in Lorain, Ohio where he attended Clearview High School. He has six siblings and does not have a relationship with his father who was in and out of prison. At the age of 12, Hitchens asked his mother if he could move in with his best friend, Zach Anderson, and his family in Sheffield Township. His mother gave him her permission and he immediately moved into Brad and Amy Anderson's home. Brad attended high school with Norma and Amy worked at a nonprofit organization in the community with her. Anthony played football with their oldest son Zach and would stay overnight and always eat dinner with them. Amy Anderson says there was no discussion about letting him moved in because they both cared for him. With two sons of their own and another friend, James Washington, of theirs living there, the Andersons added an additional room so the boys would no longer would have to share one room among the four of them.[1]

In high school, Hitchens was a three-sport athlete, playing football, basketball, and track. On the football field he was also known for being an explosive running back. He is the school's all-time rushing leader with 3,864 yards, and the single game leader with 354 yards.

Hitchens was labeled a two-star recruit by Rivals.com.[2] He had offers from Kansas University, Indiana University, University of Akron, and Eastern Michigan, before deciding to continue his career at the University of Iowa.

College career[edit]

At Iowa, Hitchens was a four-year letter winner. In his first two years, he stayed mainly on special teams, before starting at linebacker as a junior, and senior. In his career at Iowa he racked up 270 total tackles, including 124 as junior which led the Big Ten Conference.

Professional career[edit]

NFL Draft[edit]

Hitchens was one of 35 linebackers to perform at the NFL combine in Indianapolis. Although he performed all of the combine drills, his day was considered mediocre. He tied for 12th among his position group in the 40-yard dash, tied for ninth among linebackers in the bench press, and finished 17th in the three-cone drill.[3] On March 24, 2014, Hitchens opted to participate at Iowa's pro day, along with C. J. Fiedorowicz, Christian Kirksey, James Morris, and nine other prospects. He improved upon his 40-yard dash (4.65), 20-yard dash (2.72), and ran positional drills for the scouts and team representatives from 28 NFL teams.[4] At the conclusion of the pre-draft process, Hitchens was projected to be a seventh round pick or priority undrafted free agent by the majority of NFL draft experts and scouts. He was ranked the 31st best outside linebacker prospect in the draft by NFLDraftScout.com.[5]

Pre-draft measurables
Ht Wt Arm length Hand size 40-yard dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert jump Broad BP
6 ft 0 in
(1.83 m)
240 lb
(109 kg)
32 12 in
(0.83 m)
9 14 in
(0.23 m)
4.74 s 1.62 s 2.74 s 4.45 s 7.15 s 31 12 in
(0.80 m)
9 ft 8 in
(2.95 m)
23 reps
All values from NFL Combine[6]

Dallas Cowboys[edit]

The Dallas Cowboys selected Hitchens in the fourth round (119th overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft. The Cowboys were heavily criticized regarding his selection, due to many evaluators projecting him to be a seventh round pick or go undrafted. Dallas Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones explained that they chose him to provide depth behind Sean Lee after experiencing the loss of Lee the year prior. Jones also stated they planned on selecting Hitchens in the fourth round ahead of time and his speed, athleticism, and tackling ability were key factors.[7]

2014[edit]

On June 1, 2014, the Dallas Cowboys signed Hitchens to a four-year, $2.65 million contract that includes a signing bonus of $434,864.[8]

When Sean Lee was lost for the season during organized team activities, and the team traded for Rolando McClain, it was decided to make Hitchens learn all three linebacker positions.[9] He began organized team activities taking reps with the first team defense, but was soon moved to the backup middle linebacker after Justin Durant returned from a hamstring injury.[10] He spent the bulk of training camp at outside linebacker, competing with Justin Durant and Kyle Wilber, before being moved back to middle linebacker. The Dallas Cowboys opted to trade for Rolando McClain and have Hitchens compete with him in training camp.[11] Head coach Jason Garrett named Hitchens the back up middle linebacker to McClain to begin the 2014 Season.[12]

He made his professional regular season debut in the Dallas Cowboys' season-opener against the San Francisco 49ers and assisted on one tackle in the 28-17 loss. He made his first career tackle in the closing seconds of the game, helping safety Barry Church tackle 49ers' running back Frank Gore who gained five-yards on a short run to seal the win for the 49ers.[13] The following week, Hitchens earned his first career start at weakside linebacker and recorded two combined tackles during a 26-10 victory at the Tennessee Titans. He started in place of Justin Durant, who suffered a groin injury in the season-opener against the San Francisco 49ers.[14] During a Week 3 matchup at the St. Louis Rams, Hitchens collected a season-high 13 combined tackles and deflected a pass in Dallas' 34-31 victory. He also recorded five combined tackles on special teams. Head coach Jason Garrett named Hitchens the weakside linebacker for the remainder of the season after Justin Durant was placed on injured/reserve after tearing his biceps in the Cowboys' 20-17 overtime loss to the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football.[15] On December 21, 2014, Hitchens made eight solo tackles, defended two passes, and has his first career interception after picking off a pass attempt by Indianapolis Colts' quarterback Matt Hasselbeck during the Cowboys' 42-7 victory. He was nominated for the Pepsi Rookie of the Week award after his week 16 performance against the Indianapolis Colts. He finished the regular season with 75 combined tackles (59 solo), four pass deflections, and one interception in 16 games and nine starts.[16]

The Dallas Cowboys finished atop the NFC East with a 12-4 record. On January 4, 2015, Hitchens played in his first career playoff game and recorded three combined tackles and deflected a pass, as the Cowboys defeated the Detroit Lions 24-20 in the wildcard playoff game against the Detroit Lions. Hitchens was involved in heavily controversial play during the fourth quarter after the back judge threw a flag and penalized Hitchens for pass interference for making contact and pushing off of Lions' tight end Brandon Pettigrew as he attempted to catch a deep pass by Matt Stafford. The line judge ultimately chose to overturn the penalty and the flag was disregarded without an immediate explanation on the field. After the game, referee Pete Morelli stated that the line judge determined there was not enough contact to warrant a penalty.[17][18] The next game, he collected six combined tackles during a 26-21 loss at the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional round.

2015[edit]

Hitchens was slated to become the strong side linebacker after the departure of Bruce Carter, but was switched to middle linebacker after Rolando McClain was suspended for the first four games.[19] He was named the starting middle linebacker, ahead of Jasper Brinkley, to begin the regular season.

In Week 2, Hitchens recorded five combined tackles and made his first career sack on Philadelphia Eagles' quarterback Sam Bradford during a 20-10 victory.[20] On October 4, 2015, he recorded a season-high 11 combined tackles and sacked Drew Brees in Dallas' 26-20 loss at the New Orleans Saints. On December 19, 2015, Hitchens started at middle linebacker in place of Rolando McClain who suffered an injury and collected ten combined tackles during a 19-16 loss to the New York Jets. He finished the 2015 season with a total of 67 combined tackles (40 solo), two sacks, and a defended pass in 16 games and nine starts as the Cowboys finished 4-12. His production was slightly decreased due to the return of Sean Lee.[21]

2016[edit]

Hitchens began training camp competing with Kyle Wilber and Damien Wilson for the role as the strongside linebacker.[22] He took over the role as the Cowboys' starting middle linebacker after Rolando McClain was dealt a ten-game suspension after violating the performance-enhancing drugs policy.[23][24]

He started the Dallas Cowboys' season-opener at the New York Giants and collected six combined tackles in their 20-19 loss. On December 1, 2016, Hitchens recorded a season-high ten combined tackles, deflected a pass, and sacked Minnesota Vikings' quarterback Sam Bradford, as the Cowboys won 17-15. He finished the season with 78 combined tackles (39 solo), 1.5 sacks, and a pass deflection in 16 games and 16 starts.[25] The Dallas Cowboys received a playoff berth after finishing atop the NFC East with a 13-3 record. On January 15, 2017, Hitchens started his first career playoff game and collected seven combined tackles in a 34-31 loss at the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional round.

2017[edit]

He received a considerable raise for the 2017 season after playing over 35% of the Dallas Cowboys' defensive snaps. His salary went from $690,000 to $1.84 million after qualifying for the Proven Performance Escalator. The Proven Performance Escalator was added to the rookie wage scale as a part of the collective bargaining agreement in 2011 and applies to players who were drafted in the third to seventh round.[26]

Throughout training camp in 2017, Hitchens competed with Jaylon Smith to maintain his role as the starting middle linebacker. Hitchens was slated to start the season at middle linebacker, but suffered a tibial plateau fracture in the Dallas Cowboys' final preseason game against the Oakland Raiders. He was expected to miss up to eight weeks, but was able to return before Week 5.[27] On November 12, 2017, Hitchens recorded ten combined tackles in a 27-7 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. The following week, he moved over to weakside linebacker after Sean Lee suffered a hamstring injury.[28] Hitchens went on to collect five combined tackles before suffering a groin injury, in the Cowboys 37-9 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.[29] On November 30, 2017, Hitchens recorded a season-high 15 combined tackles in Dallas' 34-15 victory over the Washington Redskins.[30]

Kansas City Chiefs[edit]

On March 15, 2018, Hitchens signed a five-year, $45 million contract with the Kansas City Chiefs.[31][32][33]

Career statistics[edit]

Season Tackles Fumbles Pass defense
Year Team GP GS Comb Solo Asst Sack FF FR Yds TD Int Yds Avg Lng TD PD
2014 DAL 16 11 75 59 16 0.0 0 0 0 0 1 8 8.0 8 0 4
2015 DAL 16 9 67 40 27 2.0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 1
2016 DAL 16 16 78 39 39 1.5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 1
2017 DAL 12 12 84 55 29 0.0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 2
Career 60 48 304 193 111 3.5 2 0 0 0 1 8 8.0 8 0 8
  • Bold indicates career high

References[edit]

  1. ^ David Moore. "How Anthony Hitchens' decision at age 12 eventually made him Dallas Cowboy". sportsday.Dallasnews.com. Retrieved December 9, 2017. 
  2. ^ Anthony Hitchens - Yahoo Sports
  3. ^ Alfie Crow (February 25, 2014). "2014 NFL Combine results: Linebacker 40-yard dash and more". bigcatcountry.com. Retrieved December 7, 2017. 
  4. ^ "Hawkeye tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz draws attention at NFL pro day". desmoinesregister.com. Retrieved December 7, 2017. 
  5. ^ "Anthony Hitchens, DS #31 OLB, Iowa". nfldraftscout.com. Retrieved December 8, 2017. 
  6. ^ "NFL Draft Profile: Anthony Hitchens". NFL.com. Retrieved December 7, 2017. 
  7. ^ "Why were Cowboys high on Hitchens?". 
  8. ^ "Anthony Hitchens: Current Contract". spotrac.com. June 2, 2014. Retrieved December 8, 2017. 
  9. ^ Cowboys position reviews: LBs
  10. ^ "Rookie LB Anthony Hitchens signs contract, focused on getting better not playing behind Durant". sportsblogs.star-telegram.com. Retrieved December 8, 2017. 
  11. ^ Clarence Hill (August 21, 2014). "Rolando McClain returns, but Anthony Hitchens gets first-team work". star-telegram.com. Retrieved December 8, 2017. 
  12. ^ Cowboys position reviews: LBs
  13. ^ "NFL Game Center: Week 1-2014: San Francisco 49ers @ Dallas Cowboys". NFL.com. Retrieved December 8, 2017. 
  14. ^ Shawn Leales (September 12, 2014). "Dallas Cowboys Injury Report: Team Loses Justin Durant to Groin Injury". CBSlocal.com. Retrieved December 8, 2017. 
  15. ^ SI Wire (October 28, 2014). "Cowboys linebacker Justin Durant likely out for season with torn biceps". si.com. Retrieved December 8, 2017. 
  16. ^ "NFL Player Profile: Anthony Hitchens". NFL.com. Retrieved December 8, 2017. 
  17. ^ Fix Sports (January 4, 2015). "Ref explains non-PI call at heart of Lions-Cowboys controversy". foxsports.com. Retrieved December 8, 2017. 
  18. ^ Todd Archer (January 5, 2015). "Pete Morelli: Penalty not warranted". espn.go.com. 
  19. ^ Fox Sports (June 2, 2015). "No shortage of backup plans in wake of Rolando McClain's suspension". foxsports.com. Retrieved December 8, 2017. 
  20. ^ "NFL Game Center: Week 2-2015: Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles". NFL.com. Retrieved December 8, 2017. 
  21. ^ "NFL Player stats: Anthony Hitchens (2015)". NFL.com. Retrieved December 8, 2017. 
  22. ^ "Ourlads.com: Dallas Cowboys' depth chart: 07/01/2016". Ourlads.com. Retrieved December 8, 2017. 
  23. ^ Jean-Jacques Taylor (June 1, 2016). "Anthony Hitchens capable of replacing Rolando McClain for Cowboys". ESPN.com. Retrieved December 8, 2017. 
  24. ^ Jim Wilson (July 1, 2016). "The Pros & Cons Of Anthony Hitchens Replacing Rolando McClain In The Cowboys Defense". bloggingtheboys.com. Retrieved December 8, 2017. 
  25. ^ "NFL Player stats: Anthony Hitchens (2016)". NFL.com. Retrieved December 8, 2017. 
  26. ^ Todd Archer (January 27, 2017). "Anthony Hitchens earns raise of more than $1 million". ESPN.com. Retrieved December 8, 2017. 
  27. ^ Marc Sessler (August 30, 2017). "Injury roundup: No surgery needed for LB Anthony Hitchens". nfl.com. Retrieved December 8, 2017. 
  28. ^ Kate Hairopoulos (November 14, 2017). "Cowboys LB Anthony Hitchens plans to do his best Sean Lee impression in place of defensive captain". sportsday.dallasnews.com. Retrieved December 8, 2017. 
  29. ^ Patrol Walker (November 19, 2017). "LB Anthony Hitchens to undergo MRI on possible groin injury". 247sports.com. Retrieved December 8, 2017. 
  30. ^ "NFL Player stats: Anthony Hitchens (2017)". NFL. com. Retrieved December 8, 2017. 
  31. ^ Patra, Kevin (March 13, 2018). "Chiefs to sign former Cowboys LB Anthony Hitchens". NFL.com. 
  32. ^ "Chiefs begin defensive rebuild with Anthony Hitchens". ProFootballTalk.com. 
  33. ^ "Chiefs Sign Linebacker Anthony Hitchens". Chiefs.com. March 15, 2018. 

External links[edit]