The Cowboys sent both Mike McCarthy and Dan Quinn to Ohio State’s Pro Day on Tuesday, and it’s obvious why: the Buckeyes have a lot of NFL-ready defenders getting ready to go pro. And according to John Owning, Dallas has specific interest in defensive tackle Tommy Togiai.
Whispers going around are that DAL loves Togiai. https://t.co/BM3N6qlYMH— John Owning (@JohnOwning) March 30, 2021
If that’s the case, then Togiai picked a good day to show out, as he churned out 40 bench press reps. That strength has been a calling card for Togiai, who left his hometown of Pocatello, Idaho for the Buckeyes.
Name: Tommy Togiai
Weight: 300 lbs
2020 Stats: 7 games, 23 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 2 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble
He played sparingly as a freshman, garnering just 10 tackles and two for a loss across six games. Togiai appeared in nine games in 2019 and tallied 16 tackles, two for a loss, and batted down a pass. He was used almost exclusively as a run-stopper those first two years, but Togiai took on more of a pass-rushing role this last year, registering his first sacks of his career. COVID-19 protocols ended his season early, but Togiai still hopes to impress scouts with his physicality.
Burst: Togiai is not an explosive player, but he offsets that with his overwhelming strength. He’s more of a locomotive than anything: it takes a while to get going, but you’d be hard pressed to stop him. Most of his wins at the line of scrimmage are because of his strength, not burst, as he rarely beats guys off the line.
Footwork: For a guy that I just compared to a locomotive, Togiai has impressive footwork. He’s precise in his movements and doesn’t look awkward or stunted, naturally moving around and getting good leverage with his feet. He’s got a great center of gravity, which is the source of his power, and he knows how to translate that to the field.
Hand Technique: He generates his strength from his base, but that’s not all. As evidenced by his Pro Day, he’s got great upper body strength too, and his hands are basically massive clubs. He strikes linemen with violence and never gets complacent, always using some sort of maneuver to try and disengage from his blockers. For a guy that lacks top end speed, that’s exactly what you like to see.
Pass Rush Moves: Pass rushing is not Togiai’s bread and butter, but he’s not incapable of generating pressure. It’s telling that, after rarely seeing the field on passing downs his first two years, Togiai was able to stack up three sacks as a pass rusher in 2020. He doesn’t have a deep repertoire of pass rush moves, but the ones he does use - notably a chop, rip, and bull rush - are usually effective.
Lateral Agility: He has tree trunks for legs but it hasn’t hindered his ability to move across the line of scrimmage. He moves pretty easily when asked to come around on stunts, and in the run game he does a very good job of navigating to get in position for the tackle.
Athleticism: You’re not going to see Togiai speed past somebody. He’s got poor burst and doesn’t really have much speed that he builds up to either. That’s likely a key reason that Ohio State didn’t play him much early on, as there were more athletic guys ahead of him.
Run Defense: This is where Togiai will make his money in the NFL, and likely why Dallas is interested. He has the vision, patience, and tenacity to be an impact run defender right away. He’s very effective at maintaining his leverage while reading the backfield, shedding his block, and getting to the ball carrier. He brings immense value as an early down run stopper at the next level.
Processing: Togiai’s body may not be quick but his mind is. He reads things quickly and reacts to them appropriately, offsetting his poor athleticism. He rarely gets tricked into the wrong gap or out of position, something that happened all too often for Dallas last year.
Toughness: It’s become a cliché with strong, unathletic players but Togiai is truly a blue-collar type of player. He never gives up on the field and is always hustling. He really reminds me a lot of Antwaun Woods, whose sheer work ethic has turned quite a few heads in Dallas.
Intangibles: The big question for Togiai is why he hardly saw the field until his final year. We now know he’s got some athletic limitations, but still produces on the field. Does that speak volumes to his leadership or work ethic? The issue is that Togiai has such a small sample size that it’s hard to know. Scouts will have to dig deep to get a better idea of his intangibles going forward.