Eagles’ Casey Toohill Hints at Role, Talks Gaining Weight ‘Intelligently’

Casey Toohill

Getty Stanford LB Casey Toohill projects as an edge rusher in the NFL and should make an impact for the Eagles in 2020.

When Casey Toohill’s name was called in the seventh round, the Stanford linebacker was listed at 250 pounds.

He now weighs a stocky 255 and hangs out with the defensive ends in Philadelphia. The Eagles took Toohill with the 233rd overall pick back in April knowing the 6-foot-5 specimen had an addiction for sacking quarterbacks. He was the prototypical “Joker” in a 3-4 defense and even though Philly doesn’t play that style, his athleticism was too tempting to pass on.

The Eagles drafted him, listed him at defensive end and threw him into the pass-rusher’s den, a place teeming with voracious appetites for signal-callers. Toohill made sure to tack on five pounds in the offseason and now he’s up to 255, with plans to possibly gain another five to 10 pounds.

“I think I want to be as heavy as I can and retain my athleticism,” Toohill told reporters over the weekend. “That kind of sounds like a cop-out answer but it’s true. I’ve already gained weight. I want to continue to but I think it would be a mistake to rush to gain a ton of weight and then maybe feel like I’m slow or not as explosive. Because that’s football, that’s important.”

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Toohill, an All-Academic honoree at Stanford, along with a finalist for the coveted William V. Campbell Trophy (the “Academic Heisman”) — and brother to an impressive freelance writer — knows he has to weight train “intelligently.”

“I’m just trying to gain it [weight] intelligently, not put on too much at once,” Toohill said. “I need to focus a lot on putting on strength as well and meeting with nutritionists and the strength staff and formulating a good plan.”

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Toohill Anxious to Meet Veterans on Eagles’ D-Line

Toohill and the rest of the Eagles rookies arrived to training camp about a week earlier than the veterans. He hadn’t spent any quality time in the practice facility getting to know them or enduring any “grass time.”

This never-not-weird offseason — thank you, COVID-19 — had relegated his interactions with Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat, Javon Hargrave, Malik Jackson, Fletcher Cox, and Derek Barnett to “virtual” meetings. Even so, Toohill has learned a lot.

“The virtual meetings are definitely different but you can still learn techniques, you can still learn the scheme and I learned a lot from that,” Toohill said. “The Eagles coaching staff is obviously very knowledgeable … the D-line coaches, all very knowledgeable — and I was able to learn from the veterans when they talked during our meetings, they answered questions.”

But nothing can match being on the field with those guys, mask-to-mask in the Philly humidity sweating out dreams of making the final 53-man roster.

“I’m looking forward to just getting to know the veteran D-linemen first and foremost,” Toohill said. “I just want to learn from them … learn from their wealth of experience, and hopefully form friendships. That’s the first thing on my mind. I know I’ll have to compete but I think my attitude is just to bring my best every day and always improve and then let the chips fall as they may.”

‘Joker’ Role in Stanford Linebacker’s Future?

The stand-up “Joker” linebacker role has been an ongoing topic of conversation around Toohill. In addition to having the physical attributes, he has the stats to make an impact there.

Toohill finished his college career with 14.5 total sacks and 132 tackles (23 for loss) in 46 games, including eight sacks during his senior campaign. The San Diego native is lumped in with the defensive ends right now but admits he doesn’t know what his role will be.

“Not really gotten into anything like that,” Toohill said, regarding his exact role. “I’m really just learning the techniques and learning the playbook, doing the best with that every day.”

The first week of Eagles’ training camp was all about “acclimating” which meant doing drills, talking about techniques, studying the playbook and just running around the field in the 95-degree weather with his rookie teammates. He’s having fun being a professional football player, listening to new defensive line coach Matt Burke, and hanging out with Dante Olson and Noah Togiai — two new friends from the NFL Scouting Combine. The NFL is what you make it.

“I think it just comes down to your own habits, your own routine,” Toohill said. “For me, there are many ways to improve and it’s not always just physically on the field. It could be mentally, it could be emotionally, it could be anything like that. You have to self-evaluate.”

And never look at the depth chart. The Eagles are carrying seven defensive ends on the roster after putting Daeshon Hall on the PUP list. There’s not a lot of wiggle room for Toohill, not with the team only likely to keep five edge rushers. The seventh-rounder will be mainly competing against Genard Avery (fifth round), Shareef Miller (fourth round), and Joe Ostman — and the latter is the only one he outranks in terms of draft number since Ostman went undrafted.

“Again, I think that’s another thing where it’s always a challenge, it’s always a big challenge in the NFL to do that, but I’m not going to do that,” Toohill said about dwelling on making the team. “It’s really just focusing on improving every day and I think if I do that I’ll be happy about that. Regardless of what happens, if I know I go in there and improve every day and handle my business, I think that’s a good approach.”

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