You might not know the name Greg Toler now, but he says you soon will.
That's Toler's style: Confident and bordering on cocky.
|Confident Greg Toler says: 'People can watch me on Sunday to see how good I will be.'|
You might not know him. And you haven't seen him play -- nor have I, by the way -- but the word in NFL scouting circles is Toler might be one of the super sleepers in this year's draft. The word among personnel people is he will go between the second and fourth rounds.• Complete NFL Draft coverage
"It's kind of cool to hear that," Toler said. "But I never thought I was a sleeper in my own eyes. I always thought I could play."
Here's how much he thinks he can play: He compares his game to that of Deion Sanders, Champ Bailey and Nnamdi Asomugha.
They're arguably the three best cover corners of the last 20 years.
"My brother always told me to shoot for the moon and if you don't make it at least you'll be in the stars," Toler said.
His is one of those stories that make you root for him to succeed. He was raised by a loving mother, but without the help of a father. The father spent most of life in prison before dying in custody while serving time for drug charges.
"My dad told me that he never wanted to see my name in the system," Toler said. "He told me he did enough bad things for the two of us. That helped me stay clear of trouble. But I always thought he was looking out for me. I still think he's watching down on me."
Toler steered clear of trouble while playing high school football in Washington, D.C. But he didn't get the required grades to play on the next level.
Football had to wait -- if it ever came.
Needing money, he went to work stocking shelves at the local J.C. Penney for three months.
"It was that or do something stupid to get money," he said. "And I wasn't going down that path."
He played for a semi-pro team for a while, but that was for washed-up college players and old men trying to hang on to a dream. It wasn't for healthy, young players who could run under 4.5 in the 40.
"They told me to get out of there," Toler said. "The guys thought I was too young and too good to be playing there."
So he found his way to St. Paul's, which was a long way away from the NFL. But as they say in scouting circles, if you can play the league will find you, no matter where you are.
They've found Toler. Scouts that I talked to about him were excited about his potential. Raw was a word used often, though.
At 5-11, 190 pounds, he has good size. He also has run the 40 in 4.35. That's moving. But he's 24, old for an NFL rookie, and the level of competition he has faced wasn't much.
"We had the same practice cleats as game cleats," he said. "The town has one stop light. We have no weight room. That's why some of the guys in this draft that I've worked out for are shocked when I tell them what I had in college. They don't believe me. And that's why I think my best football is in front of me."
Toler is six hours away from graduating with a degree in criminal justice. He said he plans to finish this summer, as much for his mother as for himself.
He'll spend draft day with her and his brother. To think he's about to go the NFL is simply amazing coming from where he has been.
J.C. Penney stock boy to the NFL doesn't happen much. Kurt Warner went from grocery stock boy to a probable Hall of Famer. That's a long way to go for Toler, but some are already comparing him to Arizona corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who came from Tennessee State to start for a Super Bowl team last season as a rookie.
"They say we're both corners with good size and speed who came from small schools," Toler said. "But he let his game do his talking and I'll do my talking with mine. People can watch me on Sunday to see how good I will be."
I told you he was cocky. Time will tell if he's as good as he says.
One thing is certain: He's the super sleeper in this draft, and his path makes his story even more compelling.