Alabama football has a pipeline at just about every position in the NFL Draft — linebacker included. The Crimson Tide has laid claim to defensive stars like Rolando McClain, DeMeco Ryans, Dont’a Hightower, C.J. Mosley, and others. It’s been a few years since Alabama has had an LB go in the early rounds, but 2022 NFL Draft prospect Henry To’o To’o might be able to change that with his scouting report.
Update: Henry To’o To’o has announced his decision to return to Alabama for the 2022 season.
Henry To’o To’o NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Linebacker
- School: Alabama
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 6’2″
- Weight: 228 pounds
Henry To’o To’o Scouting Report
If there were a year to end Alabama’s early-round drought at the linebacker position, it would be this one. In Christian Harris and To’o To’o, Alabama has two legitimate 2022 NFL Draft prospects on the second level. Harris kicked off the season in the first-round conversation, and he’s since remained an early-round candidate. But To’o To’o is lingering behind him, and the two may be closer than the hype suggests.
The big question for To’o To’o — especially being lined up alongside Harris — is surrounding his athleticism. While Harris is imperfect, he does have the high-end athleticism necessary to suggest growth potential. Does To’o To’o have that? And does he have the mental acuity necessary to maximize that upside at the NFL level? Let’s take a closer look.
Henry To’o To’o’s athletic profile
Listed at 6’2″, 228 pounds, To’o To’o has decent size for the linebacker position, although his frame is a hair underweight. Right away, it’s clear that the most prominent athletic trait in his toolbox is his explosiveness. The Alabama LB has an abrupt initial burst out of his stance. Especially in short ranges, he has great closing speed when he recognizes plays. He’s more of a long-strider, but he has the tools he needs to cover ground in the box.
Additionally, To’o To’o has flashed good range in pursuit. He’s also showcased the ability to flip his hips with relative ease. He shows some stiffness at times, as we’ll get into later, but that may be an efficiency-of-motion issue — and thus correctable.
To’o To’o doesn’t have elite long speed, but he has enough to track plays to the sideline in the short range. Once he arrives, he has enough lateral agility and coordination to adjust his angles on short notice.
Going further, for his frame, To’o To’o appears to have decent proportional length. He uses that length proactively in tackling situations and extends his reach as much as his capacity allows. In tight quarters, the Alabama product flashes a physical style. And when he’s at his most physical, his traits shine brightest.
Execution beyond the physical traits
The tape revealed that To’o To’o is a decent athlete, but much of the selling material with him is intangible. He isn’t perfect from a mental standpoint either, but this is where much of his promise lies.
To’o To’o is an effective and proactive communicator at the MIKE position. He’s also generally quick to react to where the ball is going. The Alabama LB can identify routes and close in on them as plays develop. He has good awareness of running backs and tight ends seeping out into space, and he’s shown he can follow the quarterbacks’ eyes in coverage.
In the box, To’o To’o is an energetic player in pursuit with a high motor and good play pace. In this range, he attacks plays and is generally quick to trigger. He’s willing to engage smaller blockers with force. In those situations, the Alabama LB can stack and shed and secure tackles in quick succession. On option plays, To’o To’o plays positioning very well, and he can sow indecisiveness from offensive players.
Areas for improvement
In To’o To’o’s brightest moments, he shows great upside and playmaking ability. But like Harris, down-to-down consistency isn’t quite there with To’o To’o, even on the mental side.
To’o To’o’s instincts are not perfect. He has moments where he’s late to diagnose and react. He’s sometimes unaware of offensive linemen sneaking up to the second level, and he takes suspect angles to the ball on occasion, also overshooting angles downfield. When encountering moving linemen, the Crimson Tide LB frequently fades back upfield, giving space to ball carriers.
Going further, To’o To’o bites on play-action fakes more often than desired and gives up positioning on those plays. Physically, he can be a little stiff when changing directions, and he can lose his balance when aggressively engaging blockers. As a blitzer, To’o To’o’s underweight frame makes him relatively easy to handle, and he doesn’t have a wide array of pass-rush moves. His frame can impact his ability to dismantle blocks consistently, and he doesn’t quite have the strength to consistently stop runners in their tracks as a tackler.
Among other things, the Alabama LB isn’t an overly twitchy or elusive athlete, even if he has decent lateral agility. He occasionally gets flat-footed when traversing through congestion, and he’s not incredibly smooth when navigating crowded areas. Finally, To’o To’o maxes out his top speed relatively quickly. He doesn’t have elite range at the second level.
To’o To’o’s 2022 NFL Draft scouting report overview
To’o To’o is often advertised as the commander of the Alabama defense — and there’s a reason for that. He is the MIKE, and he’s shown that he can communicate with his teammates, react quickly to plays, and identify concepts. However, To’o To’o can be a mixed bag at times. His eyes aren’t bad, but his instincts can run hot and cold. He’ll play one rep perfectly, then phase himself out with improper positioning or recognition on the next.
Simply put, To’o To’o isn’t quite as consistent from an intangible perspective as you’d want the quarterback of the defense to be. Nevertheless, he’s not bad in that department. He’s shown he has the capacity. He’s also explosive and urgent as a player, and if he can improve his efficiency of motion, he could glean more upside from his frame.
To’o To’o does have three-down potential, and he’s already a solid playmaker in the box. But his issues, both with recognition and motion efficiency, can be exacerbated in space and in coverage. Moreover, he hasn’t proven himself to have great ball skills there.
In this linebacker class, To’o To’o feels like a mid-round prospect with Day 2 upside. Yet, he’s not quite an elite athlete, and he isn’t consistent enough mentally to offset that. He’s solid, and he can be a steady NFL starter. But his upside may be capped in certain respects.
Henry To’o To’o’s Player Profile
Nick Saban wanted To’o To’o the first time around — back in 2019 when To’o To’o was a linebacker prospect coming out of De La Salle High School in Concord, California. To’o To’o played both linebacker and running back, but it was clear the 6’2″, 225-pound recruit’s future was on the defensive side of the ball.
Alabama was one of many schools to offer To’o To’o a scholarship. The future Alabama LB was coveted, ranked as a high four-star recruit and the 47th overall player on ESPN’s 2019 recruiting board. Despite the interest from Alabama and other programs like Michigan, Notre Dame, Oregon, and Florida, To’o To’o signed with the Tennessee Volunteers.
He played two seasons with the Volunteers. Over that span, he amassed 140 total tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, an interception for a touchdown, and 4 pass deflections.
To’o To’o earned Freshman All-American recognition in 2019 but ultimately chose to transfer after the 2020 season. Alabama quickly stood out as a front-runner, and To’o To’o decided on the Crimson Tide in May.
To’o To’o’s career at Alabama and NFL Draft ascension
We’re only one season into To’o To’o’s career at Alabama, but already, he’s forged a presence on the second level. In nine healthy games in 2021, the star LB has 68 total tackles, 3 tackles for loss, a sack, a forced fumble, and a pass deflection.
As illustrated in the scouting report, To’o To’o hasn’t been as consistent as desired. Regardless, he’s still made plenty of plays close to the line. He’s a high-motor player with good tackling ability and a solid mental foundation. If he can attain more consistency in that sphere, it’s not out of the question that he could unlock previously undiscovered upside.
In his current form, To’o To’o isn’t at his ceiling. But athletic testing will do more to reveal what his ceiling is. In that vein, there’s excitement and uncertainty with To’o To’o. Being a true junior, he could ultimately return to school and work on refining his craft. If he declares, however, he’ll quickly enter the Day 2 mix.
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