When you have just five draft picks two years in a row, as has been the case for the Eagles in 2018-19, you have to find creative ways to bring in young talent.
The team announced Friday evening that it had signed offensive lineman Brett Toth to a three-year deal. Toth, who turns 23 on Sept. 1, was the first Army player to participate in the Senior Bowl. He graduated from West Point in 2018 and began his two-year service commitment, serving as an assistant coach at Army last season. But a new process undertaken by the Trump administration allows service academy graduates to apply for a waiver, if they have a chance to play professionally.
Agent Alan Herman and Lt. Toth navigated the waiver process successfully, and Toth, 6-foot-6, 290, will join the Eagles this weekend.
He hasn't played or practiced football in 18 months, and he's joining the Eagles three weeks before the start of the season, so it isn't clear where Toth fits in. He would seem to be another project for offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, who has been working since last year with former Australian rugby player turned offensive tackle Jordan Mailata.
Mailata currently plays right tackle, which was Toth's college position. When news of Toth's intention to sign with the Eagles surfaced earlier in the week, a source close to the situation suggested the team envisioned a year on the practice squad.
Toth told the Eagles' website that he signed here because of the opportunity to work with Stoutland.
"It's going to be a lot of proving that I belong here and just taking what coaching I've gotten at those all-star games and applying it as quickly as possible and adjusting on the run," Toth said. "I got the short stick here. Other guys have been doing this for a few months. They've been able to understand the offense and I've got two weeks now to show that I belong on this roster."
NFL.com gave Toth a 5.24 grade as a prospect his senior year, connoting "NFL backup or special teams potential." It isn't clear how the service commitment requirement still in place at that time might have affected his grade. He played in a run-first offense for the Black Knights and is seen as needing polish as a pass protector.
Toth said he sought advice from Steelers Pro Bowl left tackle Alejandro Villaneuva, a former Army player who came to the NFL after serving as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan. Villaneuva began his NFL journey with the Eagles in 2014, as a defensive tackle. The Steelers claimed him on waivers at the end of that preseason and moved Villaneuva to the offensive line.
This article is written by Les Bowen from The Philadelphia Inquirer and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.