Stanford linebacker Michael Okwo was a third-round pick by Chicago in 2007. He didn’t have a stellar career with the Bears, as Okwo never wound up playing a single down for them before he was cut prior to the 2008 season. He’s now considered one of Chicago’s all-time draft busts.
Turns out, Okwo would be the last Stanford linebacker drafted until 2016, when Green Bay made Blake Martinez a fourth-round pick.
The two careers couldn’t be much different.
Martinez has started 55 out of a possible 59 games, registering 491 career tackles, 28 tackles for loss and nine sacks. And he now has 140-plus tackles for three consecutive seasons.
Overall, Green Bay got great value with the 131st pick of the ’16 draft.
Stanford has had a bit of success since then in cranking out NFL-caliber linebackers in later rounds.
So who’s this year’s mid-round Stanford linebacker prospect?
Meet Casey Toohill.
You’re forgiven if you haven’t heard of the 6-foot-4, 247 pound senior. After all, Stanford just wrapped up a disappointing 4-8 season, and Toohill barely played his first couple of years on campus, including his redshirt freshman season.
But as the years progressed – and players like Kalambayi and Alfieri graduated – Toohill started to pick up more playing time. He started five games last season and every game this season, finishing the year with 60 tackles (third on the team), 11.5 TFLs (led the team), 8 sacks (led the team) and 10 QBHs (led the team).
Thank you Stanford. pic.twitter.com/BOKz9srncy
— Casey Toohill (@CaseyToohill) December 5, 2019
Now, Toohill waits to find out if he gets a Combine invitation, as did Martinez, Kalambayi and Okereke before him. There, teams can start evaluating where Toohill fits best at the next level: as a pass-rushing or inside linebacker in a 3-4, or as a standard linebacker or defensive end in a 4-3 front.
His coach, David Shaw, gave this scouting report on Toohill during his junior year:
“Casey runs a 4.5 (in the 40) and he’s explosive,” Shaw said, via the San Francisco Chronicle, in 2018. “He has a 34- or 35-inch vertical (leap). As young ballplayers become veteran players, you challenge them differently. The thing with Casey that … (defensive coordinator Lance) Anderson has been pushing for a while is: Show that athleticism on the football field.
“He’s such a conscientious guy, he wants to get everything right. Sometimes you’ve got to cut loose. In training camp, you saw him cut it loose as a pass rusher — being physical at the point of attack, getting off blocks, showing great hustle. I couldn’t be more pleased with where he is.”
Toohill made his first appearance of the year on the Fanspeak-Jake big board, released on Tuesday. Toohill checks in as the No. 150 overall prospect and No. 10 linebacker.
— Stanford Football (@StanfordFball) December 11, 2019