There have been plenty of voices calling out for the Falcons to draft a tight end in recent years to groom as a predecessor to Tony Gonzalez. Even after the future Hall of Famer announced his decision to return for the 2013 season, those voices still called for a protégé.
This year in the fourth round the Falcons addressed the tight end position in the draft, selecting Stanford tight end Levine Toilolo and he brings to the Falcons an impressive blend of college production and size. Despite being a backup to second-round tight ends in the last two drafts, Coby Fleener (Colts, 2012) and Zach Ertz (Philadelphia, 2013), in his time at Stanford, Toilolo caught 10 touchdowns in just 50 career catches.
The big-bodied Toilolo immediately adds a dangerous redzone target to Atlanta's offense because of his height advantage. Standing at 6-foot-8, Toilolo becomes the tallest tight end currently on an NFL roster, according to rosters provided by each team's official website. Four tight ends stand at 6-foot-7 in the league, one inch shorter than Toilolo.
Coming from a pro system at Stanford, Toilolo has an advantage in his translation to the NFL and his intelligence as a product of Stanford doesn't hurt either. Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said Toilolo will be an in-line tight end with his hand in the dirt and his athletic family tree is yet another plus. Toilolo has three uncles that played in the NFL and two cousins that played college football. Another of his cousins was a college basketball player and yet another, Jennifer Saleaumua, was an All-American volleyball player at Nebraska. Finally, Toilolo's sister ran track at the University of Utah.
"You can just tell, talking to Levine, how confident he is in his own way, having been around it and having an understanding of the idea of having family members in this league and his drive to be the best he can be," Dimitroff said. "(He's an) incredibly smart person out of Stanford and he's going to fit in well with this football team."
Toilolo joins Gonzalez, Chase Coffman, Tommy Gallarda, Adam Nissley and Andrew Szczerba on the Falcons roster at tight end. The new draft pick's inclusion in that lineup gives the Falcons the tallest set of tight ends in the league with an average height of just under 6-foot-6. Only four other teams have a tight end position group whose average height is at or over 6-foot-5.