August 16, 2019
UPDATE [5:15 p.m.] — The Eagles have made the signing of former Army offensive tackle (and U.S. Army second lieutenant) Brett Toth. In a corresponding move, they've waived cornerback Jay Liggins.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Philadelphia Eagles will sign former Army offensive tackle Brett Toth to a three-year deal.
Toth, who graduated from West Point in May 2018 and just finished his first year of service, needed a military waiver in order to defer his remaining service time and instead sign with an NFL team. He reportedly received that permission and will now join the Birds, who beat the Jaguars, 24-10, on Thursday night.
It was first reported a few days ago that Toth was seeking the waiver and had planned to sign with the Eagles should it be granted. Per Toth's agent, that waiver was given on Friday morning.
Why couldn't Toth, the only Army player ever to play in the Senior Bowl, just head straight for the NFL? Here's more from Daniel Gallen of PennLive.com:
Under President Barack Obama, service academy athletes were able to participate in professional sports after graduation if they were granted reserve status, according to NPR.
Last year, Trump’s Department of Defense revoked that policy, and it replaced it with one that mandates two years of service in the armed forces.
But Trump changed course earlier this year in a memorandum to the secretary of defense. [pennlive.com]
That change in policy, in which Trump now allows military academy grads to join professional sports team immediately following graduation like Obama did, came back in May, according to Schefter.
So what exactly will the Eagles be getting in Toth, a 6-foot-6, 290-pound lineman from South Carolina?
According to NFL.com's Lance Zierlein, Toth projected to be a sixth- or seventh-round pick out of college, and is likely to wind up on the Eagles practice squad this season after spending the last year away from football. But here's what Zierlein wrote about Toth following his senior season at Army:
Toth's physicality and ability as a move blocker will appeal to zone-heavy rushing attacks, but it will take some time to adjust to a run scheme where he isn't constantly playing so far forward like he was at Army. Toth is an athletic guard/tackle prospect who will likely need a redshirt season to add mass and work on his fundamentals in pass protection.
Sources Tell Us
"I love this potential. Coaches see guys like this as moldable clay who they can build from the ground up because he's disciplined, coachable and athletic. He's the type of player that (Bill) Belichick goes after." -- NFC team area scout [nfl.com]
One of the things that Toth will need to work on if he hopes to crack this Eagles roster is his pass protection, but that's not entirely his fault. Playing at Army, where they run the option, Toth simply didn't have many opportunities for pass protection, something that has become a premium at the NFL level.
According to Zierlein, Toth has the potential to be a good pass blocker, it's just not something he's been asked to do very often.
As we've seen with players like Jordan Mailata, the Eagles aren't afraid to bring in a guy who is considered a bit of a project. And at least when it comes to Toth, he has the resume and pedigree to be a solid player in the NFL. And he could have the chance to develop into a solid player for Doug Pederson's team.
He'll now, however, have just two weeks and two preseason games to show Pederson and the Eagles he's worthy of getting that shot.
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