It’s time for more 4 Questions. Tuesday, we took a trip down south to Tennessee to talk about Sylvester Williams. Today, we’re staying down south. We’re heading to the home of WCW. We’re going right to the place where Gladys Knight has one of the best chicken and waffles spots in the entire world. If you want me, you can find me here.
That’s right. I’m in Hotlanta. And you know what, it’s the weirdest thing. Nearly a year ago the Lions played the Atlanta Falcons and lost after the horrible 10 second runoff incident. But somehow out of that, Lions fans and Falcons fans became pretty good pals. I talk to these guys a lot and it’s weird.
So when Reisman said he needed answers on Levine Toilolo, I jumped at the chance to head down to ATL to learn about the Lions new tight end. And at Mohawk Industries, where I coincidentally had to travel to for a seminar back in my sales days, I met up with my pal Cory Woodroof of The Falcoholic. Here’s what he had to say about Toilolo.
POD: What are your overall thoughts on Levine’s time in Atlanta?
TF: “Levine Toilolo’s time in Atlanta is a bit of a roller coaster. He came into the league as a mid-round draft pick that really never did a whole lot. He got a season with Tony Gonzalez mentoring him in 2013, which no doubt helped his development, but his first three seasons weren’t major from a production standpoint. He’s always been a pretty good blocker, but he really never hit any sort of uptick until Kyle Shanahan’s brainstorm 2016 campaign. For a guy who was drafted in a different era of Falcons football, Toilolo flourished through being used properly as a sneak-attack option in Shanny’s scheme.
He would occasionally slip around unsuspecting defenders and be left wide open to haul in a touchdown or big gain. But, a rising tide lifts all boats and Toilolo was a product of his environment that year. Things dipped a bit back down to reality in 2017, where he went back to his primary blocking duties and hauling in the occasional pass or touchdown. The team signed him to a hefty contract in 2017 for a TE2, so it was a relief to some to get his deal off the cap at his release.”
POD: What are his strengths?
TF: “He’s not a bad blocker by any means. He’s got size, and knows how to use it to help in protection. He’s also not a bad option if you want to pick up a few yards on a quick throw. That’s where I’m guessing Detroit will utilize him most—to help in run blocking and in keeping Matthew Stafford clean. He’s good for a touchdown or two a season, and if Jim Bob Cooter can be creative with getting him out in space, he can at times go undetected.
But, he’s more of a chess piece than a self-starter. If you use him properly, he can help you out. But, you don’t want to rely on him to light defenses up—Travis Kelce, he is not. For blocking, check downs and the occasional bust in coverage, he’s pretty solid.”
POD: What are his weaknesses?
TF: “He’s not got the surest hands, and again, any red zone potential is minimal. He’s got seven touchdowns in five seasons, which gives you an idea of what to expect there. And, he’s not fast at all, so again, scheming him to get open and get around defenders who aren’t looking for him on a certain play is the best way to utilize his skillset in the passing game outside of intermediate throws. I’m unsure what his ceiling is, and if he’s already reached it. But, with Luke Willson in tow, you won’t have to rely on him as your only tight end. He’s alright as a complementary option, but has yet to prove anything beyond that.”
POD: Can Levine make a large impact in Detroit? Or is he better served as a role player?
TF: “It’s really a question of if he’s got untapped potential. For a guy drafted in 2013, he’s reaching the point where he’s just going to be what he’s going to be. That’s not to say he can’t improve, but he’s probably going to be the Darren Fells replacement for the Lions. He’ll help out in blocking, a little bit in the passing game, and perhaps for a touchdown here and there. But, he’s very much a role player. Not a bad guy to have around—he’s a very good teammate—but on the field, he’ll give you what he can. It’s a question of how well Cooter can utilize what he’s good at.”
So it’s pretty obvious the Lions didn’t go out a sign a future Pro Bowler, but what they did get is a guy that can do all of the things that Darren Fells could do, as Cory mentioned, and probably more if he can realize his potential.
I want to thank Cory Woodroof and all the guys over at The Falcoholic for being cool guys and helping us out. If you’re looking for Falcons stuff or even just a good follow, go follow all their guys.