ays leading up to the NFL Draft can produce nervous moments for those expecting to be selected.
Greenwood resident and Roncalli High School graduate Cole Toner, a 6-foot-6, 303-pound offensive lineman projected as a fourth-round selection, knows all about it.
The three-day draft starts April 28 and ends April 30.
A four-year starter at Harvard University, Toner likely will hear his named called at some point on the final day, which is devoted to Rounds 4 through 7.
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Whatever the outcome, he won’t endure the wait alone.
Along with college friends, Toner will have his parents, Dave and Angie, with him. Also making the trip to the Harvard campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, are two of Toner’s closest pals from Roncalli — Bradley Fey and Greenwood resident David Heckman.
Toner has worked out for scouts from three NFL franchises. He traveled to Indianapolis and New England for workouts, while scouts from the Houston Texans traveled to Harvard.
“Recently it’s been different teams that have worked me out. The Texans came here to put me through workouts and chalk talk,” Toner said. “It’s them teaching you their offensive systems and seeing how you react to it.
“Their schemes are different from ours (at Harvard), but you have to be able to adapt.”
Versatility along the offensive line has never been an issue for Toner. In the days leading up to the Jan. 30 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, he at different times lined up at right tackle, left tackle and right guard.
He wound up playing only right tackle.
Rated the 14th-best offensive line prospect by nfldraftscout.com in February, Toner has since risen a spot to 13th. The website projects him to be the 125th pick overall, which at this time would have him going to the Green Bay Packers in Round 4.
Another website, walter football.com, lists Toner as a fifth-round selection of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the No. 148 selection overall.
“I think different teams think different things,” said Toner, who speaks to his agent, Joe Linta, a couple of times each week to see which direction his draft stock is moving. “Versatility is important.”
If Toner is chosen, the moment will remain special to him the rest of his life.
Another Greenwood native knows this well.
And With the 119th Pick …
Former Greenwood Community High School football player A.J. Edds demonstrated great restraint while watching the 2010 NFL Draft on television.Finally, enough was enough.
“I basically watched every pick to, I swear to God, No. 115,” said Edds, who despite being projected to be the 130th pick overall by draftsite.com, expressed disappointment.
“I physically left the room and said, ‘Someone call me when this happens.’”
And someone did.
Right around the time the University of Iowa linebacker made it to the second floor of his family’s residence, Edds’ cellphone rang.
The voice on the other end belonged to Brian Gaine, then the assistant director of player personnel for the Miami Dolphins.
Gaine asked Edds his thoughts on becoming part of the Dolphins’ organization.
A stressful day would have a joyous conclusion, after all.
Edds played for five NFL franchises in five seasons, recording a total of 14 tackles. He realized the dream of playing for his home-state team, the Indianapolis Colts.
He retired from professional football in October, one month after turning 28 years old.
Edds doesn’t know Toner, but is in the position of mentoring younger football players, having himself experienced myriad emotions at the 2010 NFL Draft, through various injuries and suiting up for different franchises.
“The draft is a waiting game, and it can be a little bit frustrating,” Edds said. “My biggest advice is that it’s not about how you get in the league, but what you do once you’re in. If you couldn’t play, you wouldn’t be there.
“My second piece of advice is to focus on the fundamentals and the small things that helped you be successful in the first place.”
A success no matter what
Dave Toner is winding down his 16th and final school year as athletics director at Roncalli High School.He and Angie, who has served as both a teacher and administrator at the school, made it a point to attend every Harvard football game — home or away — from 2012 to 2015.
This equates to two trips to each of the other Ivy League campuses (Brown, Cornell, Columbia, Princeton, Dartmouth, Penn and Yale) and witnessing 36 Crimson victories in 40 games.
No way they’re going to miss being with Cole when the NFL Draft plays out.
“We had talked about what Cole should do for the draft. Should he come home or should he stay out there? Finally we just decided he needed to be with his friends,” Dave said. “We decided, if nothing else, we’ll be there to take them all out to dinner.”
John Harvard’s Brewhouse, located on historic Harvard Square, is a likely destination.
“It will be a big bill, but other than that,” Dave said, laughing, “it’s tremendously exciting. It’s one of those things where you don’t ever plan on something like this occurring. It’s hard to imagine Cole has put himself in a position to be considered for a job in the NFL.”
If not drafted by one of the 32 NFL franchises, it’s likely someone will sign Toner to a free-agent contract shortly thereafter. And if that doesn’t materialize, Cole will have his degree to fall back on — he majors in government, with a minor in economics.
“He’s going to have a shot, I believe, to make a team. If that doesn’t work out, he’s going to land on his feet with a Harvard degree,” Dave said. “I think he’s set.”
Name: Cole Toner
Family: Parents, Dave and Angie; sister, Lisa, 45; brother, Chris, 43
Favorite TV show: “Family Guy”
Favorite food: Cheese fries
Favorite movie: “Ocean’s Eleven”
Favorite athlete: Peyton Manning
Favorite team: Indianapolis Colts