OWINGS MILLS -- The Baltimore Ravens are taking a look at small-school cornerback Greg Toler, an emerging NFL draft sleeper from tiny St. Paul's College in rural Virginia.
A Washington, D.C., native, Toler is working out for the Ravens on Monday at Woodrow Wilson High. The New York Jets are also scheduled to work out Toler on Monday.
The Division II star had private workouts this past week for the Cleveland Browns and the Miami Dolphins.
Described as this year's Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the Arizona Cardinals cornerback drafted in the first round a year ago out of Tennessee State, Toler has designs on being selected somewhere between the second and the fourth round in next month's NFL draft.
"I'm taking that small-school route and, hopefully, I'll get the chance to prove that football is football on any level," Toler said in a telephone interview. "Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie took this route to the NFL, and I'm looking to do the same thing. All I want is a good shot.
"If I had gone to a bigger school, I might have gotten complacent. From where I'm coming from, I treasure this a lot more. I don't complain about anything, and I just appreciate the opportunity. This is my dream."
According to NFL.com, Toler has been projected as a mid-round to late-round draft pick.
Toler said he has upcoming visits with the Washington Redskins, Houston Texans, San Francisco 49ers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Minnesota Vikings, Jets, Cardinals, Browns, Green Bay Packers, Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Dallas Cowboys are also scheduled to work out Toler at some point.
"Greg is definitely an exceptional athlete, don't let the school fool you," said St Paul's defensive coordinator and secondary coach Kevin Grisby, who played for the Philadelphia Eagles. "If he had gone to a Division I school, he would have started and been a top draft pick. We were fortunate to have him. He made me sleep good at night.
"I've coached Pete Hunter, who got drafted by the Cowboys, so I know if a guy can play on that level. Greg is just exceptional. He looks better than the so-called first- or second-round prospect. He outshined Vontae Davis from Illinois and Kevin Barnes from Maryland at his last workout for the Dolphins. If anything, he's better than those guys. He has the hips, ball skills and the speed."
At the Dolphins' workout on Friday in Washington that Davis and Barnes also participated in, Dolphins coach Tony Sparano, executive Jeff Ireland and quarterback Chad Henne put Toler through his paces.
Toler said that the Ravens have contacted him about coming in for a visit, but it hasn't been scheduled yet.
Listed at 5-foot-11, 191 pounds, Toler has been clocked as fast as a hand-timed 4.35 in the 40-yard dash. He intercepted 14 career passes at St. Pauls's, a CIAA school in Lawrenceville, Va.
Toler had academic problems coming out of Northwestern High School in Prince George's County. He briefly played semipro football for the D.C. Explosion before enrolling at St. Paul's.
Now, he's six credits shy of earning a degree after majoring in criminal justice and minoring in sociology.
"I didn't take my classes very seriously at that time coming out of high school," Toler said. "I was working at a JC Penney. I couldn't see myself doing that for my life, so I was blessed to go to St. Paul's. I don't have any regrets. It's a small, isolated school where you can concentrate on academics and football."
Toler said that there are very few stoplights in Lawrenceville, or opportunities to do much besides concentrate on academics and football.
"I'm not looking for any handouts," Toler said. "At St. Paul's, you get one pair of cleats and you play and you practice in them all season. St. Paul's is basically in the middle of the woods with no parties. It was a great environment for me."
Last season, Toler intercepted six passes and recorded 51 tackles and 19 pass deflections.
"The strength of my game is that I'm a cover cornerback," Toler said. "I'll come up and tackle, too. I want to be one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL one day. I grew up watching Champ Bailey and Deion Sanders, and those are my favorite cornerbacks."
Toler played in the Cactus Bowl as well as the East Coast Bowl all-star game, where he intercepted two passes, recovered a fumble and knocked down six passes.
Toler was snubbed when it came time for invitations to the NFL scouting combine. Some NFL teams have told Toler they had hoped he would remain a secret.
Grisby said that he has talked to Jets coach Rex Ryan about Toler.
"The Jets' scout, Mike Davis, was one of the first ones to notice Greg," Grisby said. "He said he was hoping to keep Greg hidden, but the word got out. He's definitely not a sleeper now. People know about him."
In terms of feedback from NFL teams, scouts have told Toler that he needs to continue to work on polishing his game. In terms of attitude, they've advised him not to change his humble approach.
"The teams tell me, 'Greg, we like you, you're humble and we want you to stay that way,'" Toler said. "I look at all of this as a big blessing and I just hope I get drafted as high as possible. I would love to be a Raven and play with Ray Lewis, but we'll see what happens."
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.
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