It’s a long time before the NFL Draft, but with the Senior Bowl concluded and the NFL Combine coming up, all but two teams are already starting to focus on who to take. The Dallas Cowboys hold six picks (they traded away their fifth-rounder), and are expected to net four compensatory picks in addition, most likely in the fourth and fifth rounds. With ten overall picks, they have a lot of opportunity to take players and craft trades (if they choose). But right now, you can earmark one of those picks, probably later in the draft, to be Brett Toth.
“Who?” you might ask. Well, here’s a quick introduction courtesy of SB Nation.
We may not hear the name Brett Toth for a while, but keep it in mind. Toth is an offensive tackle from Army and the first player from West Point to ever participate in the Senior Bowl. He took advantage of his opportunity.
Toth had a good, consistent three days of practice. On Wednesday he stoned Ohio State rushers Tyquan Lewis and Jalyn Holmes and stopped an outside rush by Phillips. Coming out of Army’s option offense, Toth is better than most offensive linemen at working out in the open field and picking off moving targets. The former high school tight end has to get stronger, but his athleticism at the position shows. Here he is obliterating a cornerback:
Army OT Brett Toth on this toss play. Finishing. pic.twitter.com/vnpEKxaDl5— patrick (@PatDStat) January 24, 2018
We just may not see Toth for a while. He will graduate as a nuclear engineer, and he has to serve a two-year military commitment before he can become a professional football player. That may mean he goes undrafted, but Toth should have a future in the NFL if he wants one.
This guy may be the most obvious Dallas target in the entire draft, if the team sticks with more than one past criteria. If those don’t seem obvious, here they are.
He fits the needs of the team.
The Cowboys are built on the foundation of their offensive line. Toth has the potential to become a starter, and may be an even better fit as a swing tackle, somewhere the Cowboys clearly could have been better in 2017. And he may be future insurance for Tyron Smith, who had injury issues that really impacted the team last season. With the focus on the run game that Dallas prefers, he certainly looks like a good fit with his mobility and downfield abilities. Plus there was no evidence to cause concern about his pass blocking (although he didn’t exactly do a lot of that for the Army Black Knights). There is no such thing as having too many talented offensive tackles in the NFL. All indications are that he is a very good lineman who would probably go much higher if he didn’t have to complete a duty obligation in the Army.
His character is beyond high.
First off, he has successfully met the standards of a service academy, which are far more rigorous than civilian schools. He has literally been trained to be a leader. And he is a nuclear engineer. For a team that values intelligence, especially on the O line (center Travis Frederick double-majored in computer engineering and computer science), that has to be a huge plus.
If he is called upon to talk about Toth, Jason Garrett may just break down and weep about how he fits the ideals Garrett espouses to the team.
Service academy grads have been very, very good to the Cowboys.
Offhand, I can only name two such former players for Dallas. One was Chad Hennings of Air Force, he was a key backup and later a starter on the defensive line during the glory years of the early 1990s. The Cowboys had reportedly entertained the idea of trading him to the Denver Broncos, but Jimmy Johnson put a quick end to that after seeing him in practice.
Hennings was a solid performer. The other was one of the all time greats, Hall of Famer and Super Bowl winner Roger Staubach. Staubach had the Heisman Trophy as part of his credentials, but still had to complete his service commitment. The Cowboys took the chance, and the rest was literally NFL history.
That is an incredible return for a couple of very late picks back in the day when the draft went much longer. Staubach was taken in the tenth round, and Hennings in the eleventh.
Under Jerry Jones, Dallas has not shied away from taking long term gambles.
Of course there is that lag in availability - but if the Cowboys use a late-round pick on him, he would be ready to join the team in 2020, and could either earn a spot on the roster, or become trade bait. They are not going to spend a high pick on him, so why not use a fifth, sixth, or seventh on him? After all, they drafted Jaylon Smith in the second round, knowing he was at least a year away from playing at all and two or three from reaching his full potential.
An even better parallel is Rico Gathers. A college basketball player, Dallas used a sixth-round compensatory pick* as a clear flyer on him. He still has not seen regular season action, first due to having to learn the game and then as a result of a severe concussion and head injury in the 2017 preseason. But he is still with the team and may finally get his chance this year.
Unless some other team makes a move to take Toth before he gets to the right spot for the Cowboys, he should be a lock to have his name called as a Dallas selection sometime on the third day of the draft. There is no other player in the entire draft that fits more of the criteria and tendencies for the Cowboys.
I’m calling him for pet cat status now. (Yes, I am now allowed to do that.)
* Originally stated as a seventh round pick in errror; Dallas did not have a seventh round pick that year.