The New York Giants need a wide receiver, that much is well known. But even more than another dependable receiving target, the Giants need a spark and a big play threat to help set the rest of their offense off. It’s widely expected that they will pursue receivers in either free agency or at the top of the 2021 NFL Draft. But it’s also possible that they could double-dip at the position and come back after the first round to try and turn a weakness into a strength.
Florida’s Kadarius Toney was one of the players who generated a buzz for himself at the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl practices. Toney’s explosive athleticism and ball skills proved a challenge for any DB to line up across form him, and he was one of the players who seemed to be playing at a different speed than everyone else.
Toney is a four-year senior, but only has one season as a centerpiece in Florida’s offense. So just what kind of player is he as he enters the NFL?
Prospect: Kadarius Toney
Games Watched: vs. Arkansas (2020), vs. Georgia (2020), vs. Texas A&M (2020), vs. Alabama (2020)
Games Played: 38
Yards (YPC): 580 (8.8 per carry)
Yards (YPC): 1,590 (13.3 per catch)
Total Touchdowns (rushing/receiving): 14 touchdowns (12 receiving, 2 rushing)
Games Played: 11
Yards (YPC): 161 (8.1 per carry)
Yards (YPC): 984 (14.1 per catch)
Total Touchdowns (rushing/receiving): 11 (10 receiving/1 rushing)
Best: Athleticism, explosiveness, versatility, big play ability
Worst: Size, route running
Projection: An important rotational player in a West Coast or spread offense.
Florida receiver Kadarius Toney is an undersized but explosive receiving prospect with the versatility to play a number of roles at the NFL level.
Toney possesses great quickness and agility, as well as very good long speed and explosive acceleration. He lined up across the Florida formation, playing out of the slot, at wide receiver, and out of the backfield as a running back. He was also frequently asked to go into motion, both from one alignment to another as well as in jet motion.
Toney has a solid release off the line of scrimmage, getting into his routes with a minimum of wasted motion. He also does a good job of using his speed to his advantage on more vertical routes. Toney is capable of running past defenders who are late in opening their hips, or not using his full speed early in routes and accelerating later to catch defenders off guard. Toney shows solid ball skills, tracking the ball well through the air, extending to maximize his catch radius, and catching the ball with soft hands.
Toney runs a reasonably diverse route tree, catching passes in the short, intermediate, and deep areas of the field, and shows a willingness to go over the middle.
Toney has enough versatility to allow the offense to get creative in getting him the ball. He is dangerous in space, making screen passes a viable option for big plays. He is also capable of taking hand-offs as a running back or running with the ball off of jet motion.
Toney only recently became a full-time receiver. The bulk of his career production came in the 2020 season after the departure of Van Jefferson to the NFL in the 2020 NFL Draft. Toney improved over the course of the 2020 season, but his relative lack of polish still shows. His routes can be imprecise and rounded despite his agility, and he can jump unnecessarily at times when catching the ball.
Toney’s relative lack of size can also show up when blocking, fighting through contact, or making contested catches. He shows good competitive toughness in those situations but can still lose out to bigger defenders.
Overall Grade: 7.8 - This prospect possesses rare athleticism as well as good versatility. However inexperience at the position means development is still in order.
Kadarius Toney projects best as an offensive weapon in an offense which blends West Coast and spread concepts.
He has the speed and ball skills to be a legitimate threat down the field, as well as the ability to turn short gains into big plays on quick passes. Creative offensive coordinators should be able to make good use of his versatility and background as a gadget player as well. His athleticism is threatening enough that jet motion or toss plays should always be respected, which could help add misdirection to an offense. Toney can be lined up all over the offensive formation, which should help offensive coordinators come up with ways to get him the ball, as well as attack weak points in opposing defenses.
Toney will still need to work with his wide receivers coach to help hone his craft as a receiver. He showed solid improvement over his senior season, but he will need more work before he can reliably win with his route running. Offenses will want to work Toney in from the start, but they might need to protect him a bit early on in his rookie campaign. That said, he should produce his fair share of highlight reel plays.