Brett Toth Jumps in the NFL Pool
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — It's fair to say professional football is the most complicated of the major North American sports but it's not nuclear engineering.
Brett Toth is coming into Eagles camp late but the West Point product is likely not going to be overwhelmed by Jeff Stoutland's talks on angles and blocking surfaces, not after majoring in that discipline at the United States Military Academy.
Toth, though, is putting off the more cerebral part of his life for a bit after being granted a waiver to pursue his dreams of playing in the NFL with the Eagles.
“The biggest way to learn to swim is to get in the water,” Toth said before his first NFL practice Sunday.
The door opened for Toth when President Donald Trump ordered the Pentagon to allow athletes from any of the service academies the opportunity at professional sports if that was an option for them. The first domino to fall was in Minnesota when Air Force long snapper Austin Cutting, a seventh-round pick of the Vikings, was granted his waiver and the machinations were put in place for Toth, a 2018 graduate at Army.
“It couldn’t have been done without President Trump taking the initiative to send athletes to professional sports,” Toth said before his first NFL practice Sunday. “It’s going to be a huge advertising tool for the Army and that’s why I’m here. Just to represent West Point and the Army as a whole.”
Toth got a tryout with the Eagles two weeks ago and a three-year deal was worked out on the condition of the waiver coming through.
Typically, Military academy graduates were required to serve 24 months of active duty but Trump set the change in motion back in May. Toth has already fulfilled one year of his service responsibilities and plans to continue that in his downtime by working with the Temple Unversity ROTC program.
At 6-6 and 290, Toth is joining a team that is arguably the deepest in the NFL at the offensive tackle position, starting with future Hall of Fame left tackle Jason Peters and All-Pro right tackle Lane Johnson. From there you can add 2019 first-round pick Andre Dillard and Jordan Mailata. Meanwhile, Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Matt Pryor have been getting most of their work inside this summer inside but are natural tackles.
“Everybody knows how deep the entire offensive line is and how deep each position is,” Toth said. “This is a group of guys you want to learn under.”
Because we are in late-August the ceiling for Toth, who hopes to get up to 315 pounds as quickly as possible, is likely the practice squad but it's clear Stoutland sees something in Toth due to his size and athleticism. When you are projecting Toth what really stands out is 33 3/8-inch arms which are very comparable to Dillard, who was measured at 33 1/2-inch arms.
“With the strength staff here and the nutritional staff, I am absolutely ready for it,” Oth surmised. “They have been all over me for the past couple of days I have been here, and I am excited.”
Toth offers some position flexibility as well even though he is 6-6. Vaitai, who has worked at both left and right tackle in the past, has been the first-team RG during Brandon Brooks' rehab. Brooks is 6-5, Vaitai is 6-6 and Pryor, who has worked at both left and right guard in camp is the tallest of them all at 6-7, a clear indication Stoutland is willing to put taller players inside.
“He’s athletic enough, he’s smart,” coach Doug Pederson said of Toth being versatile enough to play inside and outside. “We worked him out a couple weeks ago. I really think that he's a guy we can do that with.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen