With the 20th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the New York Giants have selected wide receiver Kadarius Toney out of Florida.
And what a ride for the Giants to get to the 20th pick. The start of the draft went just as expected, with quarterbacks going 1-2-3. But then things started to go sideways with Jaylen Waddle, Jaycee Horn, and Patrick Surtain II going in the next six picks. Then the Philadelphia Eagles threw the curveball nobody saw coming with a trade with the Dallas Cowboys to jump ahead of the Giants for DeVonta Smith.
Then the Giants did what they have so rarely done and traded all the way back to the 20th pick, netting the 164th pick (fifth round) in 2021, as well as the Bears’ 2022 first- and fifth-round picks, which brings us to Toney.
So that’s how we got here, but what does this pick mean?
Well, the Giants clearly wanted to add a truly explosive weapon to their offense, and Toney is certainly that. While he was listed — and drafted — as a wide receiver, Toney is more adequately described as an “offensive weapon”. He spent most of his time at Florida as gadget player who the Gators schemed ways to get the balls into his hands. Toney only really became a real wide receiver in the 2020 season.
Toney adds a big play threat with experience taking handoffs, pitches, attacking the middle of the field, and stretching the field vertically. He offers a smaller, yet quick, fast, and explosive option to contrast Kenny Golladay’s size and Sterling Shepard’s precision route running. The versatility of Shepard and Toney give the Giants options for moving receivers around their offensive formation and creating run after catch situations.
The other takeaway from this that the Giants were likely targeting Jaylen Waddle at 11th overall. The two players offer similar athletic traits, with the ability to contribute in a variety of ways as well as be a threat on special teams — which is obviously important for Joe Judge.
Toney is still raw as a receiver and needs to continue to work to hone his craft as a route runner. His routes are still imprecise, with a tendency to jump unnecessarily at the catch point. Toney also has an issue with drops that could prove frustrating early in his career.
The Giants will likely have to take a page from the Gators’ book and scheme packages of plays for Toney to start his career, but the payoff could be the kind of explosive plays they only rarely saw in 2020.