When the Seattle Seahawks drafted linebacker Korey Toomer in the fifth round in 2012, certainly defensive coordinator Gus Bradley had plenty of input. Toomer was taken with pick 154, the same as Richard Sherman a year earlier, so expectations were higher than usual under a Pete Carroll staff that was starting to gain a reputation for making the most out of day three picks.
It just never clicked for Toomer. Not in Seattle.
He still outlasted Bradley with the Seahawks, after the four-year defensive coordinator bolted to be head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. It wouldn’t be uncommon for Bradley to scour the back half of Seattle’s 90-man roster for talent, but he never came calling for Toomer. He stayed on the Seahawks practice squad for two years until finally the Dallas Cowboys claimed him off waivers in October of 2014. He wouldn’t even be there for two weeks until he was on the practice squad with the St. Louis Rams, where he’d eventually make the first three tackles of his career.
In 2015, the Oakland Raiders hired Ken Norton Jr. to be their new defensive coordinator, and the former Seattle linebackers coach gave an opportunity to one of his past proteges. The Raiders signed Toomer, but he made little impact that season and it certainly looked like his career would soon vanish and be forgotten by everyone except those who were paying the most attention in the select cities of Seattle, St. Louis, and Oakland. Then one more chance came up, this time with the San Diego Chargers.
Toomer was signed on September 28 of last season after an injury to Manti Te’o. Soon, enough injuries had piled on to the point where Toomer started eight games for the Chargers. He ended the season with 71 tackles, three forced fumbles, one sack, and PFF praised his run stopping ability towards the end of the year. The team announced a move to Los Angeles following the season and placed an original round tender on Toomer, which he signed on April 4 ... a little less than two months after they hired Bradley to be the defensive coordinator.
After a little less than four historically bad seasons in Jacksonville, Bradley found himself back on the market looking for a job. However, he would not be doing the job search alone, as it was reported that if Anthony Lynn got a head coaching gig, Bradley would definitely be his defensive coordinator. The Chargers hired Lynn to be the head coach, so therefore Bradley was coming with him and bringing the same type of defense he’s been running since his time under Carroll.
Though they’d been running a 3-4 under Mike McCoy, LA will be transition to a 4-3 with 3-4 personnel/elements, just like he was doing for the Seahawks and Jaguars. If Melvin Ingram is moved to defensive end (he was given the franchise tag as a “linebacker” but that also saved the team a bit of money) then all of the linebacker positions seem to be up for competition. Jatavis Brown, Denzel Perryman, Kyle Emanuel, Jeremiah Attaochu, and Toomer all figure to compete. Toomer may have still been their best linebacker last season and could potentially play inside or outside. Either way, Toomer is ready to compete and win a job, as he told to the team website:
“(Bradley) was really cool to me as a rookie,” he said. “He really helped to make sure I was learning, because as a rookie, I was really overwhelmed. I think being (overwhelmed) is what caused a couple of my injuries early on. As soon as I started to pick up the defense, I started to get better and progress. So I think him coming here is going to be really good for me. His system allows things to come easy. It is simple in that it allows you to play fast. But now, there are higher expectations than when (I was a rookie with him).”
“Whatever role they want me to do, that is going to be my role. I’m open to anything. I played in this defense in Seattle, so I know it. It’s not too different for me. Whatever they need me to do I’ll be able to do because I’m used to playing in this scheme. We ran something similar to this in Oakland, too. It’s easy and lets you play fast.”
It seems like Toomer already has an upper-hand in the competition just from knowing Bradley’s scheme so well. He could be a great fit at WILL, and that would probably make him a little bit more than playing inside or strongside.