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Casey Toohill appears to be on track to make the regular season roster again

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Casey Toohill is a defensive end who played in 7 regular season games and a playoff game for the Washington Football Team last season, yet many Washington fans don’t know his name because he joined the team mid-season, picked up off of waivers from the Philadelphia Eagles, who drafted him in the 7th round of the 2020 draft.

In his (very) early 53-man roster projection, Mark Tyler predicted that Casey Toohill will make the WFT defensive roster as a backup and special teams player along with fellow 2020 7th rounder, James Smith-Williams.

Just to recap, Toohill, a 6’5”, 254 pound DE out of Stanford, played in 8 games for Washington a year ago — getting defensive snaps in all but one of those games — and is projected by Mark Tyler to make the 2021 team over William Bradley-King, one of this year’s 7th round picks, whom Mark projects to the practice squad. It sounds like Washington fans should know who Casey Toohill is.

Related:

What can we expect from 7th round draft pick, DE William Bradley-King?


Let’s look first at Toohill’s Combine numbers, since they seem still relevant to a guy who has only 53 defensive snaps in his short NFL career.

Source: NFL Combine Results.com

You can see that Toohill, based on his combine scores, is more big & strong than he is quick & fast is more quick & fast than big & strong.

But let’s look at his scores a bit differently — translated to Relative Athletic Score.

This is reinforced by his Relative Athletic Score.

https://relativeathleticscores.com/2020/02/11/casey-toohill-ras/
@MathBomb

All of that green looks pretty good.

You might remember that, here at Hogs Haven, we were introduced to James Smith-Williams last year as an “athletic freak”.

Let me put up Smith-Williams’ RAS card for a side-by-side (or top-and-bottom, if you will) comparison:

https://relativeathleticscores.com/?s=james+smith-williams
@MathBomb

Take a look at the measurables for both players. The two are very comparable, with Toohill grading better in explosiveness, but Smith-Williams grading out as stronger and faster. If you think James Smith-Williams is a good player who should make the Washington roster this season, then you probably should hold a similar opinion of Casey Toohill.

In 2020, Smith-Williams averaged 6.5 defensive snaps per game for his 15 game appearances with Washington; Toohill averaged 6.6 defensive snaps per game in his 8 appearances with the team. It seems as if the coaches see similar value as well. Remember that these snap counts came with Ryan Kerrigan and Ryan Anderson still on the roster. If these players make the regular season roster this year, they should see the field defensively a lot more often.

Here’s one more interpretation of Toohill’s measurables:


Letting Bleeding Green Nation do the heavy lifting

Since Casey Toohill was drafted by the Eagles a year ago, instead of researching and writing a lot about him, I’m going to rely on published articles from Bleeding Green Nation, our (step) sister site here at SB Nation.

Here’s what BGN had to say about Toohill immediately after the draft:

Toohill is a tweener who immediately projects as a deep reserve or a practice squad member. Maybe Toohill can develop into a backup. He’s a good athlete.

Scouting report via NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein:

Toohill’s a tricky projection based upon his issues stopping the run, but he has great flashes as a pass rusher. His body type may not be fully finished and additional play strength would be crucial considering his inability to anchor and shed against run blocks. His rush is much less effective against stronger tackles, but he’s a decent athlete and hints at rush skill that has room for development. He’s currently caught between a 3-4 OLB and 4-3 DE. If he can become bigger, stronger and more polished as a rusher, he might make sense as a backup edge with sub-package talent as a wide-9 technique.

You can sense that the BGN folks were a bit unsure of why Howie Roseman drafted this guy. The poll at the end of the article split pretty evenly between a “B” or “C” grade for the pick, which was the last one made by Philly in last year’s draft.

May expectations

In mid-May, BGN did a spotlight article on Toohill in the form of a Q&A with SB Nation’s Stanford Cardinals blog. Here are a few (edited) highlights from that article:

What likely got him drafted was his incredible athletic ability and flashes on a highlight tape rather than his down-to-down inconsistency. He’s a great Day 3, late-round flier at this point that you hope sticks. [Expect Toohill to be a] practice squad player immediately, [he’s] a great guy to have in the weight room and on the practice fields. I’d have to see a ton of improvement in his tackling in open space, strength at the point of contact and he’s going to have to have the right rotational role to stick with any roster. Everything you hear about the kid is tremendous. He was an asset to the Stanford community, on the field sure, but mainly off the field. Winner of what felt like more than a dozen community service awards as well as the William V. Campbell Trophy. He’ll be the hardest worker in his position group for sure as well as a vital member of his community. Just a truly stand-up kind of guy.

BLG’s take: Toohill seems like a lock for the practice squad. Just looking at his frame, it’s clear he needs to bulk up and get stronger. Realistic best case scenario is he develops into a rotational backup defensive end. Honestly, this pick is a win if he can merely become a special teams demon

Note: that article has highlights of Toohill’s Stanford career embedded in it if you want to see him on film.

Making the 53-man regular season roster in Philly

You can imagine how surprised Eagles fans must have been to see this kid make the regular season roster after seeing him projected as a practice squad candidate who needed time to bulk up and get stronger.

Here’s what GM Howie Roseman said at the time:

“I think when camp opened, Casey was probably fighting an uphill battle,” Howie Roseman said after the initial roster cutdown. “We had a chance as a staff to kind of watch all those defensive ends together and watch all their reps kind of like one after the other, like we would do if we were scouting other teams, and I think the thing that stands out with Casey is he’s got the tools in his body and he has the explosiveness in his body. He’s got a relentless motor, and happy for that kid that he’s got an opportunity to be on the 53.”

Toohill didn’t actually do much as a member of the Eagles roster. He appeared in only one game (Week 2) for 22 snaps, and he didn’t record any stats in the game.


CLICK HERE to listen to a podcast interview of then-Eagles player Casey Toohill


Mid-season waiver led Toohill to the Washington roster

Mid-season, Toohill was waived by Philly in order to make room for another player. The Eagles reportedly intended to re-sign him to the practice squad. It didn’t work out that way — Washington swooped in and claimed him off of waivers.

Here’s the BGN reaction to the news that Toohill had become a Washington Football Teamer:

The Birds lost their 2020 seventh-round draft pick to the Washington Football Team, who claimed the Stanford alumnus off waivers on Wednesday.

It’s a shame because Toohill showed enough promise to make the Eagles’ 53-man roster after doing some nice things in training camp.

Losing Toohill ultimately might not be a huge deal. There’s no guarantee he turns into a good NFL player. He didn’t make much impact in the only game he played this year (Week 2) and he was a healthy scratch otherwise.

But the Eagles waiving a 24-year-old with upside just so they can activate a 32-year-old Vinny Curry from injured reserve is very short-sighted. It speaks to the Eagles being focused on trying to win a terrible NFC East instead of caring more about their long-term outlook, which should be the real priority after a 1-3-1 start.

You’d have to think that Casey Toohill is really pleased that he was claimed by Washington. First of all would be the simple relief that anyone would feel as a result of getting to leave Philadelphia, but for Toohill, there was a bonus. In Philly, he was a non-factor. He wasn’t even playing on special teams. In Washington, he saw the field immediately.

He averaged around 12 snaps per game on defense and special teams from Week 10 to Week 17. He got to the playoffs as a member of the division-winning team, and got 24 snaps in the wild card game against Tampa Bay. Compare that to being on the practice squad of the 4-11-1 Eagles, and Toohill must’ve felt like his prayers had been answered. When you take into account his current situation as a probable member of the 2021 Washington Football team in the same position group with Montez Sweat and Chase Young, Casey Toohill must be feeling absolutely chuffed!

Related:

Can Casey Toohill be a contributor in 2021?


Bottom line

Casey Toohill had to pass through the unpleasant experience of being a Philadelphia Eagle for nine weeks, but facing that ugly reality and surviving it should only make him stronger and more thankful to be in Washington. Last season, with Ryan Anderson, Ryan Kerrigan, and Nate Orchard all on the roster, Toohill got on the field every week.

In 2021, Toohill looks like a good bet to return as part of the 53-man roster. He will probably continue to get around ten snaps per game on special teams, but his role on the defense, predominately as a situational pass rusher from either defensive end position, should expand to as much as 30% of the defensive snaps as he steps into the void left by the departure of three veterans from last year’s roster.

It’s crystal clear that Washington’s two starters at DE are Sweat and Young, but the primary competition for backup roles will be between Toohill and Smith-Williams, who were on the team together last year, and two rookies, William Bradley-King and Shaka Toney, with the latter probably getting some snaps as a backup SAM linebacker. Depending on the approach taken, all four could actually make the roster, but if not, I get the feeling that the two returning players, Toohill and Smith-Williams, have the inside track on the primary backup roles with the Washington Football Team.