When the Atlanta Falcons picked up Levine Toilolo with their fourth round compensatory pick, it wasn't clear exactly what they were getting for 2013. Looking at the 6'8" tight end, they had to think they were getting something good for the future.
Toilolo had an up-and-down career at Stanford, where he got injured and was overshadowed by some of his teammates. What we all wanted to know was whether or not he would continue to be overshadowed at the next level, particularly once Tony Gonzalez rides off into the sunset.
For help answering that question, I reached out to our own Dan Kadar of Mocking the Draft, who supplied us with a short scouting report on Toilolo. Hint: It's fairly encouraging.
Because of his pure size and athletic ability, Toilolo has a chance to be a starter in the NFL. At Stanford, he was more of a blocker than either Zach Ertz or Coby Fleener. Because Stanford's tight end depth was so good, it was hard for Toilolo to develop as a receiver while still in-line blocking. The situation he's in with Atlanta is a good one. He has to learn better route running and how to best take advantage of his frame. He did this at times in the red zone, but there's much more to being a good pass catcher than catching the ball higher than anyone else. If he can learn a few things about body control from Tony Gonzalez, he should be fine. In reality, this is the high reward, low risk type of pick a team like the Falcons can make. If he doesn't work out, no big deal because he's just a fourth-round pick. But if he hits, imagine how good a 6-foot-8 athletic tight end could be.
The Falcons picked up Toilolo because they saw an opportunity for a physically gifted tight end to learn from the greatest of all time. As Dan says, it's a relatively low-risk draft pick for the team, but one that has the potential to pay off handsomely if Toilolo can take the reins from Gonzo in 2014.
What do you think of Toilolo?