2021 NFL Draft Browns Film Room Series: IDL Tommy Togiai
The Cleveland Browns drew heavily on the defensive end of the ball, with five of their eight picks being a defensive player. The Browns continued that defensive mindset with their second selection in the fourth round. With their second fourth-round pick, the 132nd overall, the Browns picked inside defensive lineman Tommy Togiai of Ohio State. In seven games last season, he had 23 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, one forced fumble and three sacks.
Togiai could be a factor in the rotation of the interior defensive line this season. So, what do we expect from the old Buckeye? In today’s movie theater, I watch Togiai’s play, examining his strengths and weaknesses. So, let’s take a look at what the Browns have in their fourth round pick.
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Togiai plays with active hands, always fighting to gain the advantage against his blocker. He shows the power and strength of his hands. He can throw big punches on the offensive line. His hand placement is also very good, which gives him good leverage. Here are a few examples of his strong and active hands.
In the first game against Nebraska, Togiai rushes the passer from right A. The Buckeye pulls off a nice tearing move. He slips the right guard then tears under the blocker’s arms to get to the backfield. He’s able to pull the blocker away and turn inward to hit the quarterback. In the second game against Penn State, Togiai comes out of the line attacking the left guard. He is initially in a double team, but the cross falls off the block. Meanwhile, the Buckeye bull rushes at the guard with a powerful blow to the blocker’s chest. Then when the defensive lineman sees a fairway to the pocket, he hits the blocker to throw him off balance, allowing Togiai to turn around and get to the quarterback for a sack. In the third game against Penn State, Togiai pulls off a powerful bull run against the right guard. The bull rush stuns the blocker and pushes him into the pocket where the Buckeye is able to escape and find the quarterback for the sack. In the last game against Northwestern, Togiai is in the left A gap for this racing game. The left guard is supposed to crash inside to pick up defenseman Buckeye, but the defensive lineman pushes him all the way to the side as he tries to pick him up. Now free, Togiai heads to the left side to get the race stopped.
Togiai can explode out of the line of scrimmage. His first and second steps are very fast. This ability allows him to quickly step onto the field and gain an advantage over his blocker. He can squeeze through gaps with this explosive descent. Here are a few examples of his quick and explosive exit from the line of scrimmage.
In the first game against Nebraska, Togiai lines up in the left gap for this pass rush situation. The defensive lineman explodes off the line and is the first lineman to come out of position on either side of the ball. This stuns the center and allows the Buckeye to enter the backfield. With that quick advantage, he keeps kicking his feet to finally break through the line and put pressure on the quarterback. In the second game against Penn State, Togiai lines up in the correct gap A. The Buckeye has another great outing, which allowed him to beat the right guard before he could pass him. This quick move gives him the chance to step into the backfield and close the left side of the line, forcing the quarterback in for a short gain. In the final game against Northwestern, Togiai is lined up in the left B gap for this pass rush situation. He’s the first to get out of position and the farthest defensive lineman after a few steps. This quick jump helps him quickly enter the left guard’s chest. Once he meets the blocker, he shows his quickness in pulling off a sprint on the outside. The Buckeye is able to turn the corner and force the quarterback into the pocket where he is ultimately sacked.
Movement skills / Stress level
Togiai is moving extremely well for an inside defensive lineman. He can move his body well for a man of his size. In pursuit, he shows above average speed for an interior defensive lineman. He associates these motor skills with a high level of exertion. His engine is still running. He does not give up a play. Here are some examples of his motor skills and level of effort.
The first game against Nebraska just shows Togiai’s athleticism and effort. He is a double team in the gap to the left and is forced to the right of where the game is going. But, don’t stop. He sees the ball carrier moving towards the rim and along the sideline, so he sprints down the field to help him find him. The defensive lineman shows his speed and level of effort to almost knock the ball carrier down into the field. In the second game against Nebraska, Togiai is in the correct A gap for this counter-racing game. With the line movement to the left, he must quickly pass the blocking lineman down, then back up to the right to chase the runner. He does this impressively, which allows him to help knock the ball carrier down.
In the third game against Penn State, Togiai lined up in the left gap for this pass rush situation. He’s not having much of a pocket-crushing success, but the defensive lineman is fully aware of what’s going on in front of him. He sees the quarterback flee from the left side of the pocket and immediately sprints to the sideline to cut him off. The defensive lineman is able to meet the quarterback on the edge and prevent him from smashing the field for a gain. In Game 4 against Penn State, Togiai lined up in the left gap. Penn State made a screen pass and the defensive lineman played it extremely well. When he realizes the play, Togiai changes direction smoothly to move towards the ball carrier. He does it so well and quickly that he’s only a few paces behind his back as he walks outside. If the pass had been completed Togiai would have been in an excellent position to make the stop.
Togiai plays with excellent leverage, which allows him to play as an undersized inside defensive lineman. It comes off the line lower than the blocker to get good leverage. This leverage allows it to withstand the power and force of larger blockers. He’s a strong man, but his leverage is a big help in overcoming opposing blockers. Here are a few examples of its strong leverage.
In the first game against Nebraska, Togiai is in the left gap. He explodes out of the line and into the center’s chest. He sticks the center to the middle of his chest, allowing him to gain influence over the center. With the advantage of leverage, the Buckeye is able to hold on and not give up any ground. This allows him to be able to get out of the block quickly and help get closer to the ball carrier for a save. In the second game against Nebraska, Togiai lined up again in the left gap. He bursts out of the line and into the center again. He hits the center in the middle of his chest, pushing the blocker back into the backfield. This puts him in a position to wait for the runner in the gap to help him stop. In the third game against Penn State, Togiai is lined up in the correct gap A. The Buckeye shoots from the line and straight into the right guard’s chest, holding the blocker right at the line of scrimmage. The defensive lineman is able to gain leverage and unbalance the blocker, allowing Togiai to easily get out of the block and knock the ball carrier down. The end game against Penn State is the one we looked at earlier in the hands section. But, the success of the Bull Rush can also be attributed to Togiai’s ability to win the leverage game. The bull rushes at the right guard, pulling off the line and hitting the blocker in the chest. He arrived low, which allowed him to completely knock over the tackle in the backfield.
Size / Length
At just 6-1 / 1 and 296 pounds, Togiai is an undersized indoor defensive lineman. It doesn’t have the ideal weight and length for the job. It can affect him in so many ways on the pitch and it’s the biggest thing that could hold him back as an NFL player. Bigger blockers can overpower it. His length is the biggest inhibitor of his game. He can get caught on blocks a bit too long, allowing defenders to enter his body so they can hold him back. He can miss opportunities in the hole because he doesn’t have the reach to reach them. He’s really struggling with double teams. The lack of length and size causes it to be swallowed up by double teams. This limits his role for the defensive line. He will not hold a block for a defense. Here are some examples of where its lack of size and length appears.
In the first game against Nebraska, Togiai lined up in the left gap as he was doubled by team at the start of the game. The defensive lineman has been unable to keep his ground and face both blocks due to his lack of length and size. He is pushed back, creating a gap in the line of scrimmage. In the second game against Penn State, Togiai is in the correct A gap when he is doubles team again. This time he is pushed to the left side of the pitch by the tackle, leaving the right side open. Fortunately, he had the help of his fellow defender. But, Togiai is unable to hold his own against the double team, the tackle pushing him easily out of his place. In the final game against Northwestern, Togiai is in the left gap. The Buckeye does a good job early on to gain influence and lift the left guard to push him down the field. But, as he gets into position to make the stop, his lack of length burns him. The ball carrier cuts inside the defensive lineman, but Togiai is able to knock him down. However, Togiai’s short arms haunt him as the ball carrier is able to break through the defensive lineman’s hugs. The defensive lineman’s reach just wasn’t long enough to wrap around the ball carrier.
Togiai only has one year of top production and it happened in a seven-game season last year. His previous two seasons at Ohio State saw him as a rotating inside defensive lineman with an average production. It took Ohio State his third season for him to be the inside starter and to produce at a significant level. There should be a break in his level of production in college.