Every prospect’s path to the NFL is a different one, and the path for Tommy Togiai started in Pocatello Idaho. That’s where he was going to high school when he was recruited by Ohio State. Despite being a four-star recruit, Togiai had to wait his turn before seeing the field. He didn’t play much until his junior season, having to work his way up OSU’s stacked defensive line depth chart.
But Togiai’s persistence paid off, and he emerged as a force for the Buckeyes in his final season. Not only was he productive on his own, his work as an undersized nose tackle created opportunities for his teammates. His season didn’t end as he wanted to, as OSU lost to Alabama in the National Championship, a game Togiai missed due to COVID-19 protocols. But even so, he is well regarded in a somewhat weak interior defensive line class.
So what does Togiai bring to an NFL field, and what role will he play?
Prospect: Tommy Togiai
Games Watched: vs. Nebraska (2020), vs. Northwestern (2020), vs. Penn State (2020)
Games Played: 22
Tackles For a loss: 8.5
Forced Fumbles: 1
Passes Defensed: 3
Games Played: 7
Tackles For a loss: 4.5
Forced Fumbles: 1
Passes Defensed: 2
Best: Initial quickness, hand usage, leverage, competitive toughness
Worst: Consistency, absolute athleticism
Projection: Starting 3, 4i, or 5 technique defensive tackle.
(Togiai is DT No. 72)
Ohio State’s Tommy Togiai is a stout defensive tackle prospect who plays with good leverage and initial quickness.
Togiai played several different interior defensive line positions for the Buckeyes, but was most commonly aligned as their nose tackle at either the 0 or 1-technique. Togiai was commonly tasked with taking on double teams and clogging the A-gaps on either side of the center.
He generally keys the snap well, flashing a good get-off to start the play. Togiai has the ability to begin his rushes with an explosive first step, firing off the ball with good leverage. Togiai generally places his hands well, winning the blocker’s chest plate and establishing inside leverage. He shows good play strength against one-on-ones and has the ability to hold up against double teams as long as he maintains his leverage.
Togiai is a stout run defender, generally playing with a good base and extension with his arms. He is able to comfortably get under opponents’ pads and discard their blocks at his leisure to make plays on runners challenging his gaps.
He also flashes the ability to be a disruptive pass rusher, using his hands and leverage well to work though blocks. Togiai has the ability to be explosive off the line of scrimmage as a one-gap penetrator and can be one of the first players moving in obvious passing situations. He also flashes the foundation of a pass rushing arsenal, usually using a rip move to counter his usual power rushes.
Togiai’s biggest weakness right now is a general lack of consistency. He isn’t a particularly large player and relies heavily on his leverage to win reps, but he can occasionally pop up directly off the snap, sacrificing his leverage. Likewise he can see his base narrow, allowing blockers to move him around in the running game. He can also see his rushes stall when he fails to defeat blocks quickly. In those cases his pass rushes come down to competitive toughness in working through blockers rather than beating them cleanly.
Overall Grade: 7.7 - This prospect has the potential to be a contributor on all three downs early in his career, but needs further development to reach his full upside.
Tommy Togiai projects best as a B-gap defender in a one-gap defense. His exact alignment would likely depend on the defense and package being played, but he could line up as a 3, 4i, or 5-technique.
Togiai was often asked to play the nose tackle position for Ohio State and was able to do so. But at roughly 300 pounds, his play was highly dependent on playing with consistent leverage. He could struggle when faced with NFL caliber power on an every-down basis. Moving him to a B-gap defender in a one-gap defense would allow him to focus on firing off the ball and beating blockers with both his power and initial quickness. Togiai improved over each of his three years at Ohio State, but will need further development to reach his full potential as a defender. As a prospect, coaches will certainly enjoy watching the competitive toughness with which he plays. Togiai gives full effort every snap, fighting through blocks and hustling in pursuit.
Togiai has the potential to be a true three down defender with upside against both the run and the pass, as long as he plays with greater consistency and lands in the right situation.