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Raiders Draft 2023: Linebacker Henry To’oTo’o

A steady prospect who is instinctive and smart, but doesn’t have a spectacular athletic profile

NCAA Football: Auburn at Alabama
Henry To’oTo’o was a steady presence for Alabama’s defense. The linebacker is smart and instinctive, but isn’t as athletically gifted as other prospects.
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Henry To’oTo’o is the classic examination of a prospect whose game film outweighs the testing numbers he produced at the NFL Combine.

As the saying goes “the tape doesn’t lie” and the Alabama linebacker was productive in all four of his collegiate seasons (including the first two at Tennessee). Steady, but unspectacular. That’s the common theme when it comes to To’oTo’o.

And it’s highly likely the unspectacular part is going to have teams not selecting him until Round 3 or later in the upcoming NFL Draft. But does that mean To’oTo’o can’t be a contributor at the next level?

Hardly. He’s a prospect the Las Vegas Raiders could use and develop.

Tale of the Tape: Henry To’oTo’o

  • School: Alabama
  • Position: Linebacker
  • Height: 6-foot-1
  • Weight: 227 pounds
  • 2022 Stats: 94 total tackles (45 solo), 8 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks
  • Career Stats: 345 total tackles (171 solo), 28 tackles for loss, 8 sacks, 1 interception (pick six), 5 passes defensed, 1 fumble recovery, 1 forced fumble

To’oTo’o will impress teams with his high football IQ, instincts, and leadership skills, which are outstanding. All those traits, combined with his non-stop motor, give him the tackling-machine profile — which he showcased at both Tennessee and Alabama at middle linebacker.

He fits the profile of a run-stuffing Mike in the middle or Will weakside linebacker at the next level. Against the run, To’oTo’o displays great burst and acceleration and heads downhill in a hurry. He engages blockers well with physicality and he’s a technician to work through blocks and the noise at the point of attack. And his 4.62 speed he showcased in the 40-yard dash at the combine tops the times clocked by former and current Raiders linebacker Denzel Perryman (4.78) and Robert Spillane (4.77), respectively.

While To’oTo’o’s anticipation helps him diagnose zone read-type plays well and he gets the most out of his talents to get to the action and down the ballcarrier, there are still deficiencies to his game — as with any prospect.

He isn’t a true thumper of a tackler who can deliver a tone-setting tackle on defense. He is aggressive, however, that nature leads to him coming in “too hot” negating the technician he truly is. That means To’oTo’o tends to not square up or break down properly to make the textbook tackles he can.

To’oTo’o’s coverage skills need to be improved at the next level with stronger and faster competition in the pros. He showed average cover skills in college, but he could be a liability at the next level — like Perryman and potentially Spillane may be. And while To’oTo’o does take on blocks willingly, he’s easily redirected as he doesn’t have the power to anchor and maintain. He does offer ability to hunt down the quarterback, but he lacks the mass to take on the massive guards and centers in the NFL.

But all that can be refined by a dedicated coaching staff.

What can’t be taught is the innate work ethic and hustle To’oTo’o displays due to his non-stop motor. He’s not necessarily plug-and-play prospect out of the gate, but as a spot starter early in his career, he won’t be a detriment to the defense. He’s also a willing special teamer and showcases the requisite speed and smarts to excel in that role.

On a Raiders team lacking depth, an intelligent and tenacious prospect at the linebacker spot is always a welcome addition. The key question, however, is Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler seeking more explosive players on defense. Explosive in the sense of impact plays and takeaways.

To’oTo’o is steady. Explosive? That needs work.

But for a defense in desperate need of stability, To’oTo’o may be exactly what the Raiders need.