Why Levine Toilolo Could Be More Than A Backup For The Lions

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Levine Toilolo

Tight End, drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the 4th round of the 2013 Draft out of Stanford

Height: 6’8″ Weight: 268 pounds

NFL Experience: Five seasons with the Atlanta Falcons

NFL Stats: 79 games played (57 starts), 74 receptions, 723 yards, 7 touchdowns

Strengths

Size

Standing at 6’8″, Levine Toilolo is one of the biggest players you will see at any position in the entire NFL. His weight is also around 270 pounds, nearly the size of an offensive lineman.

Toilolo uses his size in both catching passes and blocking. During his time with the Falcons Toilolo utilized his size to become recognized as one of the better blocking tight ends in the NFL.

An example of Toilolo’s blocking ability is his game from last season against the Minnesota Vikings. Atlanta suffered so many injuries to offensive linemen, that Toilolo had to fill in at right tackle. Not only was he serviceable, but he was Pro Football Focus’s second-highest graded Falcons player in that entire game, receiving a grade of 81.7.

Toilolo isn’t always as good at using his size to take advantage of defenders in the passing game, but he has flashed the ability to occasionally have an impact there.

Here is an example of Toilolo using his size to become a good red zone threat. The Falcons had the ball on the one-yard line and faked the handoff. Toilolo sneaked into the back of the end zone, and quarterback Matt Ryan put the ball up over the head of the linebacker, where only Toilolo had a chance to come down with it.

Here’s one more quick example of Toilolo’s size in the passing game. Again Atlanta is near the end zone, and this time Toilolo runs a fade in the corner of the end zone. Ryan again lobbed a high pass up in the air for Toilolo, who used his body to box out the linebacker and come up with the football.

Weaknesses

Lack Of Production

The biggest knock against Toilolo is his lack of production throughout his career. In 79 games, he has only caught 74 passes for 723 yards, or an average of just under one catch for 9.2 yards per game played.

Toilolo’s career-best seasons came in 2014 (when he caught 31 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns) and 2016 (13 receptions for 264 yards and two touchdowns).

One of the reasons for this is because Atlanta’s offense simply did not ask a lot from their tight ends in the passing game. However, it’s still worrying that his career high is a 264-yard season with an MVP winning quarterback throwing him the ball.

The other big reason for the lack of production is because Toilolo simply isn’t very fast, agile, or a good route runner. Although his size is a huge strength, it costs him a lot of athleticism, he only ran a 4.86-second 40-yard dash and 7.09 second three-cone drill.

Outlook For 2018

Levine Toilolo will have the opportunity to compete with tight ends Luke Willson and Michael Roberts for playing time in 2018. The obvious configuration of the three is Willson taking over the primary pass-catching duties with Toilolo coming in to block, while Roberts has a role of doing both.

However, crazier things have happened than if Toilolo was to have a great camp and win the starting tight end job. It’s not likely, but it’s also not impossible that he finally has a break out year in the Lions offense, with Matthew Stafford (who targets tight ends a lot) throwing to him.

My expectations for Levine Toilolo in 2018 are mostly just to come in and help block on running downs, and to occasionally catch passes in the red zone or short yardage situations.

Previous Free Agent Profiles: Nevin LawsonDeShawn SheadLuke WillsonChristian Jones

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