Ohio State defensive tackle Tommy Togiai projects as a high-level run defender along the defensive interior in the NFL. Togiai offers natural leverage with his build and frame, which allows him to sit under the pads of blockers with consistency. That leverage advantage is paired with nifty hand usage and really good lateral mobility for his stature—giving Togiai a prominent presence along the line of scrimmage on both interior runs and plays that are strung out into the numbers. He’s not the longest interior defender, but he’ll still find plenty of success shucking blocks with his hand usage and feel for blocks; even falling back onto his short-area mobility to out-maneuver blockers when he’s hit with leveraged down blocks or pin and pull. Togiai’s ceiling as a pass rusher isn’t great, but he does have enough quickness to threaten gaps in single-gap penetration opportunities. Ideally, he’s an early-down defender who cedes reps to more dynamic threats and designated pass rushers at the pro level. With that said, he has the feel of a starting interior defender.
Ideal Role: Early down run-stuffer; A- and B-gap defender.
Scheme Fit: Even front nose tackle, odd front 3-4 DE in single-gap role.
Written by Kyle Crabbs
Games watched: Northwestern (2019), Nebraska (2020), Penn State (2020), Indiana (2020), Northwestern (2020), Clemson (2020), Alabama (2020)
Best Game Studied: Penn State (2020)
Worst Game Studied: Indiana (2020)
First-Step Explosiveness: Togiai doesn’t offer a dominant first step, but there’s ample quickness here. Heavy-footed guards can be vulnerable to him shooting the gap and with his pad level and leverage, he can claim wins in gap penetration. He’s more nimble than he is dynamic and explosive, however.
Flexibility: Togiai is built like a bowling ball but has little issue playing on steeper angles. His base is fluid and he’s comfortable extending his feet from underneath his hips for change of direction or applying force. He’s built low to the ground and coils his hips even better to stay as the low man. Rotational mobility through the trunk is present to diminish surface area upon first contact and press into gaps.
Hand Counters: Togiai’s hands are plenty active. He works like a wrestler to manipulate the point of attack and create soft angles to play through. He’ll need to be cautious about getting out-reached and he’s unlikely to have the same success dropping hands off his frame against more consistent NFL competition. But with his mobility, he’s dialed into a chop or rip to disengage as he drives off the block and into pursuit.
Hand Power: Togiai is dense and plays accordingly with his stun. He treats every blocker he’s ever met like the blocking dummy—hands tight with pop and successfully fits the play as a result. He’s not overly powerful but because he’s so condensed, short-area force comes easily and he reaps the benefits against soft blockers inside.
Run Defending: This dude is relentless in pursuit. His vision and feel of the line of scrimmage are excellent. He’s shown high levels of competency to discard blocks and challenge in the gap and also scrape down the line of scrimmage to contest outside the tackle box. Togiai wins against the run as both a finesse and leverage player—an impressive combination that should help him build appeal for a number of different defensive fronts and principles.
Effort: You get some of the same pursuit plays that made Neville Gallimore’s Oklahoma tape so much fun in 2020. Togiai is blue collar in run support and against extended plays but he’s also successful in secondary pass rush efforts to drive back into the pocket if he’s initially washed. He’s been the one to hurry and harass mobile quarterbacks outside the pocket more times than makes sense as the Buckeyes' A-gap rusher.
Football IQ: Togiai is only now commandeering high volume reps for the Buckeyes after playing behind IDL Davon Hamilton in 2019, but he absolutely lives up to the standard set by coach Larry Johnson’s pedigree—he’s refined in deconstructing blocks and showcases an admirable rush package as an interior presence. Most importantly, his feel for the game and anticipation of plays helps set him apart.
Lateral Mobility: He’s fluid! Togiai is effortless in short-area redirection efforts as a means of ducking back under blocks or working over the top of reach blocks. He’s got range between the numbers as a pursuit player. Because he’s loose through the trunk, Togiai can flip back inside for rush counters and peel into opposing quarterbacks; but he’ll need to be wary of longer-armed rushers walling him off due to his own lack of reach.
Core/Functional Strength: He’s the perfect build for A-gap responsibilities in an odd front. He’s not a true nose tackle to eat double teams because of his stature and if he faced a high volume of doubles, you’d probably see him worn out. But in isolation and in one on one scenarios, he’ll sit and patiently wait you out. Bull rushes don’t always generate the collapse you wish they would.
Versatility: If he was a little bit bigger, a little bit longer, and a little bit more explosive, you’d be talking about a scheme diverse unicorn to play all over the front. But alas, his reach can be an issue at times and he’s not an overly physically dominant player. Instead, he’s oddly fluid and, more importantly, instinctual. I don’t envision there’s a scheme he wouldn’t find some level of success in, but even front A-gap responsibilities feel like the best pursuit.
Prospect Comparison: Tyson Alualu (2010 NFL Draft, Jacksonville Jaguars)
TDN Consensus: 79.50 / 100
Joe Marino: 77.50/100
Jordan Reid: 80.00/100
Drae Harris: 79.00/100
Kyle Crabbs: 81.50/100