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NFL Draft grades, Round 1: Fans love what Giants did; National media isn’t so sure

Selection of Kadarius Toney after trade down draws mixed reviews

SEC Championship - Alabama v Florida
Kadarius Toney
Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

It’s the day after Round 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft. Which means it is Judgment Day. Or, more directly, NFL Draft Grades day. How did the New York Giants do by trading down and selecting wide receiver Kadarius Toney 20th overall?

Giants fans overwhelmingly love GM Dave Gettleman’s first-ever trade down. Of 4,964 voters in our poll, 4,272 (86 percent) said they liked the move that netted the Giants a fifth-round pick this year and first- and fourth-round picks next year from the Chicago Bears. Only 692 voters (14 percent) were unhappy.

Using that 20th pick on Toney, the raw, play-making receiver/returner, divided the fan base a bit more, but was still generally applauded. Of 3,468 voters in that poll, 87 percent gave the selection a grade of ‘C’ or above.

Here is that full poll:

Poll

What grade would you give the selection of WR Kadarius Toney?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    A
    (603 votes)
  • 45%
    B
    (1587 votes)
  • 23%
    C
    (820 votes)
  • 8%
    D
    (279 votes)
  • 5%
    F
    (179 votes)
3468 votes total Vote Now

How did the national media react?

Judgment from football writers around the country was a mixed bag. Some loved Gettleman’s move and what he did with the 20th pick. Some loved the move and hated the pick. Some just weren’t happy at all with the Giants’ decision.

Let’s have a look around the Inter-Google at some of those opinions.

NFL.com’s Chad Reuter gave the move an A+:

Analysis: I projected the Bears-Giants deal in my first-round trades article a few weeks ago, despite the Giants’ apparent reticence against moving down early in the draft. Getting a first- and fourth-rounder in 2022, plus a fifth-rounder this year, to move down nine spots wasn’t much of a decision for GM Dave Gettleman.

Toney’s quickness off the line of scrimmage is fantastic, and he looked like a first-rounder from the get-go during the 2020 season. Daniel Jones should find the former Gator to be a great slot target, combining with free agent acquisitions Kenny Golladay and John Ross to spice up the Giants' passing attack. Although Toney had a couple drops during Senior Bowl week, he was reliable during his Florida career, so I don’t believe that is an issue. And if you watched those practices closely, Toney separated from defenders in Mobile, Alabama, in a way that most receivers don’t.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper listed the Giants as a Round 1 “winner.”

How about Dave Gettleman trading down? It was his first trade back -- in any round -- in his nine drafts as a general manager. And the Giants got back the Bears' No. 20 pick, a fifth-round pick this year and their first- and fourth-rounders next year to move down nine spots. That's a big win for a team that is still ascending and building its roster.

With that No. 20 pick, Gettleman got a weapon for quarterback Daniel Jones in Toney, who should get 10-plus touches per game on offense and as a returner. He's dynamic with the ball in his hands out of the slot. New York's receivers were very poor last season, but now Jones has Toney and free-agent signing Kenny Golladay to take him to the next level. Either way, any team that adds a future first-round pick and still gets a great player is a winner on draft night.

Walter Football only gave the Giants a “B.”

The Eagles broke the Giants' heart when they traded ahead of them for Devonta Smith. This prompted the Giants to trade down to No. 20, where they got the next-best receiver in the class. I had Toney going to the Titans at No. 22, so this range is right for him, and New York is getting good value when the trade is considered. Toney seems like a great complement for Kenny Golladay, so I like this pick, as the Giants needed to give Daniel Jones one more weapon.

Sports Illustrated really thinks the Giants messed up, giving them a D+.

Sports Illustrated NFL Draft Tracker - Sports Illustrated

The Giants add another weapon to their already very good arsenal in Kadarius Toney. Toney is an electrifying slot wideout, who is the shiftiest player in the draft. He broke out as a senior at Florida with Kyle Pitts and Kyle Trask also on the offense. He has breakaway ability and couldn’t be stopped at the Senior Bowl.

The Giants are heavily investing in their offense. There are character concerns with Toney but the Giants felt comfortable with the value at 20. Toney is going to be the short-area target for Daniel Jones, with Kenny Golladay as the deep threat. The pick was a shocker, as the Giants need help at a lot of more important positions, especially on defense. The pass rush value is there but they passed on it. This is a make-or-break year for Jones with the offense he has now.

Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports listed the Giants as a “loser.”

First New York watched as the Eagles and Cowboys teamed up to allow Philly to jump ahead of the G-Men in the draft order. Then the Eagles took Smith, the presumptive Giants target at No. 11. Then Dave Gettleman added a slew of picks to move all the way down to No. 20. Getting a future first -- and other picks -- was great, but using the 20th pick on Florida wideout Kadarius Toney? Meh. He's another big-play piece for Daniel Jones, which is a plus, but they could've easily waited to capitalize on Day Two WR depth.

Yahoo Sports wasn’t impressed, giving the move a C+.

Well, this is one we didn’t expect. The Giants slid back nine spots and — with edge rushers on the board — took the Gators’ Swiss Army knife weapon. Toney is an electric threat with the ball in his hands on schemed-up touches but isn’t yet a complete receiver. Daniel Jones and the offense got some real juice, but Toney needs work as a receiver.

USA Today listed Dave Gettleman as a “loser.”

Giants GM Dave Gettleman: He's probably not moving at all if his NFC East rivals, the Eagles and Cowboys – their picks originally sandwiched Big Blue – don't gang up and make an intra-divisional trade, Philadelphia coming to get Smith, whom the Eagles clearly believed the Giants would take at No. 11 if they didn't flip positions with Dallas.

The Athletic gave the move just a C-.

Toney is the type of player that offensive coaches fall in love with. He’s a gadget/slot option with elite speed (ran 4.37). Toney isn’t just fast. He also consistently broke tackles last season with the Gators.

But he’s the type of player whose success will be predicated on being paired with the right offensive coordinator. And now Toney is going to play with Jason Garrett, a play-caller who does not have a history of showing he can maximize the talent at his disposal. Toney had one year of real production in college, and he missed time in two of his four college seasons because of injuries. I like Dave Gettleman’s decision to trade back to this spot for additional draft capital. But I don’t like the mix here of player and team.