From now until the 2023 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top 10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents Today, I’ll be profiling Alabama LB Henry To’oTo’o
#10 Henry To’oTo’o, LB, Alabama (Senior) – 6020, 228lb
Senior Bowl Invite
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand Size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|Henry To’oTo’o||6’2, 228lb||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|40-Yard Dash||10-Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
— Has the physical makeup of off-ball WILL linebacker
— Possesses good play speed to run and chase the ball
— Instinctive, cerebral player that can get the defense lined up
— Four-year starter that has been battle-tested in the SEC
— Flows to the football well sideline-to-sideline
— Shows great effort in pursuit of the football
— Fluid mover coming forward as well as in a backpedal
— Possesses the lateral movement skills to quickly change direction in space
— Can work through trash near the LOS
— Has no problem going through the ballcarrier as a tackler
— Strikes the ball like a viper, shooting his hips through the runner as he gator rolls him to the ground
— Makes his zone drops easily, reading the QB’s eyes to play the pass
— Effective as a QB spy, mirroring the passer and tracking him down
— On the lighter side with thin lower half and upper body
— Can and will get engulfed by size at the next level
— Will get off blocks occasionally, but lacks size and strength to stay clean consistently
— Has good play speed and pursuit, but lacks that second gear in closing speed
— Will overrun plays on occasion and get caught out of position
— Will often leave his feet as a tackler instead of driving his legs through contact
— Will struggle to bring down more powerful runners alone in the open field
— Leaps forward and arm tackles often, leading to broken tackle attempts
— Comfortable in coverage, but overall lacking in splash plays, often tackling the catch
— Senior Prospect from Sacramento, CA
— Top five linebacker prospect out of national powerhouse De La Salle High School
— Named a first-team All-American in 2018, played LB and RB in high school
— Committed to Tennessee and played in 23 games and made 22 starts during his two-year stint with the Volunteers
— Started 12 games as a freshman, recording 72 tackles five tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks two pass breakups, and a fumble recovery in 2019
— Started ten games in a Covid-shortened 2020 season, making 76 tackles and 10 tackles for loss
— Transferred to Alabama in 2021 and made 113 tackles, 8.5 TFLs, four sacks, two pass breakups and a forced fumble
— Capped off his senior campaign in 2022 with 93 tackles, eight TFLs, 2.5 sacks
— 2022 first team All-SEC, 2021 All-SEC Second Team, 2019 Freshman All-American, 2019 SEC All-Freshman Team
Henry To’oTo’o is a smart, instinctive linebacker that made an impact immediately in his true freshman season at Tennessee and continued that impactful play during his time with the Volunteers and with the Crimson Tide after transferring in 2021. He fits the mold of a “see-ball, get-ball” linebacker, having the mental processing and speed to quickly diagnose the play and chase down the ball carrier. Check out this clip against Arkansas of To’oTo’o getting on his horse and flying across the screen to make a play on the opposite sideline.
To’oTo’o understands angles of pursuit and does a great job adjusting to the ball in space. Watch this play he makes against Florida by splitting the difference between the QB and RB on the option, forcing the QB to pitch the ball, and proceeds to bring down #27 Dameon Pierce for no gain.
When it comes to tackling, To’oTo’o is a striker that shoots his shoulder pads and hips through the ball on contact. Watch this tackle on #5 Bijan Robinson as To’oTo’o propels into the runner’s lower half, hog-tying him by the legs and bringing him down on the spot.
While not the biggest LB, To’oTo’o does do a good job working through trash and being in position to stack and shed blocks as we can see from this clip of him working off the block against Tennessee and getting in on the tackle.
Henry To’oTo’o’s ability to tackle and move in open space makes him the ideal QB spy candidate for an NFL defense, being able to read the QB in the pocket and chase him down when he attempts to escape as we see here against Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker.
To’oTo’o is also an effective blitzer, having the acceleration to fly through gaps and put serious pressure on the passer. He has 6.5 sacks in his last two seasons and while he doesn’t get the sack here on this play, he does force the QB to throw the ball hot, leading to a low, incomplete pass.
To’oTo’o is also a capable coverage defender, having the fluidity in a backpedal and the lateral movement skills to play zone coverage effectively and run with backs at TEs in man coverage. Watch this play he makes against the Gators last season, reading the mesh point between the QB and RB, but sniffs out the TE leak in the flat, quickly closing into the receiver to tackle him at the catch.
Still, Henry To’oTo’o’s size brings legitimate concerns to the table as he is a little light in the pants for a stacked, off-ball linebacker. He has a thin lower half and while he is functionally strong, he can have a tough time getting off blocks and tackling stronger ballcarriers on his own. Watch this play here as To’oTo’o works down the LOS and meets Robinson in the hole, but gets absolutely truck-sticked by the powerful back, landing on his backside as Robinson continues to keep churning forward.
To’oTo’o also tends to get out of position occasionally as a tackler, often leaving his feet and he lunges forward to strike his opponent. This leads to whiffed attempts as we see on this play as To’oTo’o stops his feet, and reaches forward to try and tackle the back, being in bad position as the back sidesteps him to get upfield and pick up additional yardage.
Overall, Henry To’oTo’o is a reliable, heady second-level defender that can stabilize the middle of a team’s defense. His football IQ paired with his play speed make him a good run-and-chase linebacker, having the ability to shoot gaps and run sideline-to-sideline. While a solid overall player, his physical limitations at the next level raise questions for concern when playing teams that run more downhill, given his lack of size and consistent stopping power. Ultimately, Henry To’oTo’o would best benefit from going to a team that allows him to play in space and run unimpeded to the ball rather than consistently having to do downhill and deconstruct blocks.
Many have compared To’oTo’o to Bills LB Matt Milano, but Milano is a more physical player and has more of a thick build that To’oTo’o from my observation. Rather, I see Jordan Hicks of the Minnesota Vikings being a more accurate comparison for To’oTo’o at the NFL level as Hicks has a similar frame (6’1, 236lb) and is a stat padder when it comes to tackles. He has four straight seasons of 100-plus tackles and does a great job shooting gaps, making zone coverage drops, and rushing the passer. Still, he lacks ideal size, strength, and top-end athleticism, making him a steady contributor, but not a top-tier player at the ILB position in the league.
I foresee the same outcome for To’oTo’o at the next level, possessing a high floor with the capability to be a starter for a long time, but lacking the ceiling to be considered a difference-maker at the position. The Pittsburgh Steelers could use another ILB with Devin Bush and Robert Spillane slated to hit free agency. To’oTo’o may have size limitations, but with the Steelers needing a LB that can cover and make plays in space, Henry To’oTo’o may be a player to consider somewhere on Day Two of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Projection: Day Two
Depot Draft Grade: 7.9 –Potential Starter/Good Backup (3rd Round)
Games Watched: at Tennessee (2022), at Arkansas (2022), at Texas (2022), at Florida (2021)