With his 2023 NFL Draft scouting report, can Alabama LB Henry To’oTo’o take home the LB1 mantle next April? It’s a title that many Crimson Tide linebackers before him have managed to attain. Now, To’oTo’o makes it his mission to accomplish just that in the 2023 cycle.
Henry To’oTo’o NFL draft profile
- Position: LB
- School: Alabama
- Current Year: Senior
- Height/Weight: 6’1″, 230 pounds
In a way, To’oTo’o’s collegiate career has already come full circle. Alabama pursued the former four-star LB recruit out of high school. But the Concord, California product instead signed with the Tennessee Volunteers.
To’oTo’o would play for Tennessee for two seasons. As a true freshman, he became an immediate contributor on defense, amassing 72 tackles, five sacks, and two pass deflections in 2019. His production held steady in 2020 when To’oTo’o added 68 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, a sack, a pick, and two more pass breakups.
Upon making a name for himself on the SEC stage, To’oTo’o chose to enter the transfer portal and leverage his performance into an even greater destination. That choice ultimately landed him with Alabama.
He came to the Crimson Tide two years later than they would have preferred, but his addition was worth it either way. To’oTo’o put up 111 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, and four sacks in 2021, earning All-SEC second-team honors as a result. Now, To’oTo’o is a top linebacker prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft cycle, and the stakes are ramping up.
Henry To’oTo’o scouting report
Modern NFL linebackers are becoming more diverse and versatile, but the traditional LB mold still has its place. How does To’oTo’o blend elements of both archetypes, and what kind of draft stock might he field when the 2023 NFL Draft rolls around?
At 6’1″, 230 pounds, To’oTo’o has a solid frame with good density and length. He’s not an elite size threat, but the value of his length is compounded with his high-end explosiveness. To’oTo’o is a supremely explosive athlete who accelerates extremely quickly when triggering on plays. He launches off his platform with intense burst, and he can instantly throttle up to match players, closing gaps with immediacy.
In the box, To’oTo’o’s explosiveness affords him excellent range. He can track across the formation and neutralize zone runs. The Alabama LB also moves with excellent twitch and can throttle up and down with suddenness. He’s a spry lateral athlete who can cover ground and match runners with energetic shuffle steps.
To’oTo’o’s hips are loose enough for him to gather himself quickly through minor direction changes. He also employs active feet and is an amped-up mover in tight spaces. The Alabama LB has enough fluidity to adapt in space and get his hips around when responding to misdirections. Moreover, To’oTo’o can use sudden movements to keep himself clean in congested areas.
To’oTo’o doesn’t quite have an elite composite athletic profile, but his processing ability helps to maximize his tools. The Alabama LB has shown he can quickly process motions and key in on play directions. He’s visibly quick with his processing and reaction speed, and he’s also an active communicator pre-snap who can recognize formations and get teammates in position.
To’oTo’o can trigger instantly through tight seams to stymy ball carriers, and he has a great mix of patience and decisiveness in congestion. The Alabama LB has shown he can identify running backs and tight ends sneaking out into the flats, whereupon he can track them to the sideline. To’oTo’o is an adaptable processor who can recalibrate when faced with misdirections and quickly identify open targets to pursue. He stays composed when patrolling gaps and can use quick lateral bursts to shift gaps and track RBs.
Going further, To’oTo’o can masterfully combat option plays in space. Not only can he actively dip his shoulder to scrape by blocks, but he can also take away angles with his positioning, then quickly shift focus to secondary runners when tosses occur. He has enough long speed to track plays to the sideline and take away angles upfield, and he can also match RBs on wheel routes.
Overall, To’oTo’o is a high-energy competitor who exudes urgency on every play. The Alabama LB hits WRs with force at the catch point, actively aiming to dislodge the ball. He can also step into the hole and violently engage lead blockers on inside runs. With his length and play strength, To’oTo’o can stonewall H-backs and collapse runs early. And he actively squares up and extends inside the torso when engaging blocks.
To’oTo’o can knock lead blockers off-balance with his extensions and extend and shed with force. He has enough play strength to shed blocks in space, and he can violently rip down anchors and surge outside blockers. As a tackler, To’oTo’o has shown he can use his length to wrap up and wrestle down ball carriers. He’s an aggressive tackler who actively extends and engulfs opponents.
Expanding on To’oTo’o’s tackling, the Alabama LB brings great closing burst, and his length enables him to get a lever on ball carriers and slow them before they can explode upfield. He can lead with his shoulder and play through the tackle point, and he got better at driving through tackles as the season went on. He rarely overpursues, and when he does, he’s shown to be fairly smooth redirecting in the tackle box at short notice.
Elsewhere, To’oTo’o has shown he can follow the QB’s eyes in coverage and get proper depth based on implied intent. He’s also shown he can effectively position himself in zone after dropping back and has a working understanding of spacing. And finally, To’oTo’o’s explosiveness, length, flexibility, and motor grant him exciting potential as a gap blitzer.
Areas for improvement
Athletically, To’oTo’o’s hips aren’t the most fluid when he needs to make sharp direction changes. He sometimes needs to take gather steps to decelerate and transition. In run defense, To’oTo’o sometimes retreats upfield when faced with linemen in space and needs to be more disciplined with his positioning.
Going further, To’oTo’o experiences occasional lapses in identification. He can be frozen and played out of position by misdirections. His long speed has a visible cap in long-range pursuit, and he doesn’t have great full-field range. Additionally, in the open field, To’oTo’o doesn’t always show the strength to make solo tackles in the open field consistently. He sometimes slips off ball carriers when engaging and can still be more consistent driving through tackles.
At the second level, To’oTo’o can be easily redirected by linemen, and he needs to be more consistent with his handwork when combating blocks. He can also get drawn too far up by play fakes, and when he needs to get depth after play fakes, he sometimes takes his eyes off the QB. As a result, he can play himself out of position.
Moreover, To’oTo’o can leverage himself better at stems. He sometimes goes on auto-pilot in coverage and gives his man too much space. He also freezes on breaks at times and doesn’t have the elite fluidity to recover ground. Overall, his eye discipline, leverage, and positioning in coverage can improve.
Current draft projection for Alabama LB Henry To’oTo’o
Coming into the 2023 NFL Draft cycle, To’oTo’o is one of the top linebackers across the scouting landscape. Like other Alabama LBs before him, he could go on to claim Round 1 capital. I’m of the mind, however, that he’s a solid Day 2 prospect. If the draft were today, there’s a good chance he goes in the top 75. But he has room for improvement in a few crucial areas and doesn’t quite have an elite athletic profile.
To’oTo’o does have a lot going for him. He has a traditional LB frame with good length and high-level explosiveness. He’s also a great processor who shows superb reaction quickness, instincts in congestion, and identification ability. Moreover, To’oTo’o is a high-energy, physical defender who isn’t afraid to impose his will on opponents.
The flaws with To’oTo’o mainly come in coverage. He does have a working understanding of positioning, but he’s not the most fluid athlete when he has to recover, and he doesn’t always effectively play leverage at stems. The Alabama LB has more than enough explosiveness and lateral agility to improve there, but right now, that phase is less consistent.
Nevertheless, there will always be a market for linebackers like To’oTo’o — defensive leaders and explosive pursuit defenders who can shed blocks, tackle, and sift through congestion. And he at least has a serviceable coverage floor, with some blitzing ability. As a scheme-versatile off-ball LB, To’oTo’o has starting upside in the Day 2 range.