The New York Giants selected Florida receiver Kadarius Toney with the No. 20 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Giants likely had their eyes set on Alabama WR Devonta Smith, but when the Philadelphia Eagles traded to get one spot ahead of them (from No. 12 to No. 10) to take the Heisman winner, New York had to adjust. Their new plan was to trade back with the Chicago Bears and grab three picks, including a 2022 first-round pick. At No. 20, they went with a talented but raw playmaker receiver; not the same, but in a similar mold to Smith from a size and explosiveness standpoint.
Toney didn't enter the college football landscape with the same kind of hype you see from most recruits who end up at Florida. He was just a three-star recruit (247Sports). However, for a three-star recruit, he sure did get a lot of offers from major programs. In addition to Florida, Toney received offers from Alabama and South Carolina after a high school career where he served as a dual-threat quarterback.
It's important to note that Toney was a former quarterback because up until the 2020 season, he was also simply just a gadget player in the Florida offense. Things changed abruptly in 2020 when Florida used him as a traditional receiver and he flashed massive upside in his ability to get in and out of breaks as a route runner. For a receiver who is still so new to the nuances of playing the position, he sure managed to create separation from coverage consistently -- this is exactly what makes him so exciting as he prepares for the next level.
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We're breaking down everything you need to know about Toney from a Fantasy manager perspective, including best fits, dynasty outlook, measurables, scouting report, key stats and an NFL comparison.
2021 Fantasy Impact
Toney joins a surprisingly crowded supporting cast with the Giants. This offseason, New York added No. 1 receiver Kenny Golladay to take over as their X receiver on the boundary. They also return Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton -- two receivers who played the majority of all offensive snaps in 2020. They bring back tight end Evan Engram and they also signed tight end Kyle Rudolph for a starter's salary. In 2020, Jason Garrett's first year as Giants offensive coordinator, they ran a heavy dosage of 12 personnel (two tight ends, two receivers) and even mixed in 13 personnel (three tight ends, one receiver) and 21 personnel (two backs, two receivers). None of that is good news for Toney's 2021 outlook in what could be a very crowded situation for the skill players on an offense that ranked dead last or second-to-last in receiving touchdown, passing yards per game, and scoring in 2020 with Daniel Jones at QB.
In addition to the crowded situation he joins, Toney is a raw receiver prospect. He has very few snaps (more below) at the receiver position after being used as a gadget player almost exclusively until the 2020 season. His explosiveness suggests he's best fit for a creative offensive system and play caller, but Garrett is hardly that. If you buy into the Giants changing up their offensive system in 2021 after bringing in several assistants from the collegiate level, then maybe they have a plan for Toney to be an immediate impact player. However, that feels like a long shot right now.
Toney was consistently coming off the board at the very beginning of Round 2 and occasionally sneaking his way into the back-end of Round 1 in rookie mock drafts before the Giants drafted. In our recent pre-draft rookie-only PPR mock draft, CBS Sports Fantasy Managing Editor R.J. White grabbed Toney with the first pick overall in the second round. In ou pre-draft rookie-only Superflex mock draft, Toney came off the board at No. 17 overall -- but as the 12th non-QB -- after five quarterbacks were selected ahead of him. Now that he joined a crowded Giants situation, he's likely to fall behind several receivers drafted after him in the actual draft.
- Can develop into an uncoverable slot receiver if he improves his craft based on his natural athleticism and ability to start and stop.
Here, Toney freezes the slot defender to create separation:
Kadarius Toney is the best route runner in this draft, he creates separation and is fast as hell. I hope the Patriots have him high on their board. He’s undersized, but he will be a game changer. Versatile In the slot, out wide, & as a RB too pic.twitter.com/GcWV4nr32f— 𝗕𝗼𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗻Mike🍀 (@boston_sp0rts20) April 24, 2021
- Excellent contact balance through the catch point and after the catch -- reminiscent of Saints RB Alvin Kamara in this way.
- NFL-ready in the slot where he was one of the most productive receivers in the toughest conference to play WR.
- Elite ability to force missed tackles and create YAC in open space (more on that below in advanced stats)-- arguably his best trait.
- In a class loaded with second gear accelerators, Toney's burst in space -- and ability to stay under control and find multiple gears -- might be the best in the class.
- Toney is a natural hands catcher who attacks the ball in the air rather than letting it come to him (more on that below in advanced stats)
- Elite-level leaper (40-inch vertical jump -- 90th percentile), (136-inch broad jump -- 99th percentile).
- Adds an element as a dangerous returner on special teams.
- Incredible bend and flexibility in his lower half which allows him to separate away from defenders in coverage and with the ball already in his hands.
- Size -- will Tony ever be able to line up on the boundary against NFL-sized CBs at 6-0 and 193 pounds?
- Inexperienced as a route runner. Toney was mostly a gadget player at Florida until 2020 -- a small sample-sized season to begin with. He did almost all his work in the slot and you can rule out using him anywhere but the slot for at least one season at the NFL level but could be more.
- Didn't test well in the 3-one drill (agility) -- in the 64th percentile -- but that doesn't translate to his film, so I'm not as concerned here.
- Small catch radius and hands with 9.25-inch hands (48th percentile) and 31.25-inch arms (31st percentile).
- Injuries were an issue for the smaller-framed receiver through his first three seasons at Florida where he only played 510 total snaps.
- A completely unknown in contested-catch situations -- only 10 contested-catch targets his entire career, per Pro Football Focus. Catch radius suggests this will not be an area of strength for Toney.
- Not an elite straight-line burner (81st percentile 40-yard dash) and that shows up on tape, too. Won't be the same kind of vertical threat on the NFL's most commonly used big-play route concept -- the slot vertical -- as players drafted in a similar range with similar profiles such as: Elijah Moore and Rondale Moore.
|2020 v top 25||3||22||287||3||13.1||22|
|2019 v top 25||1||0||0||0||0||0|
Advanced stats to know
- 20 forced missed tackles in 2020 alone -- fifth-most among all WRs, per PFF
- 32 forced missed tackles on just 80 receptions over the past two seasons combined.
- 784 receiving yards in the slot -- sixth-most, per PFF
- Just three dropped passes charted on 123 catchable passes in his Florida career, per PFF
The player I keep coming back to when I watch more of Toney's tape is an NFL star who doesn't even play the same position as the Florida receiver. For me, it's Saints RB Alvin Kamara. Although Toney was used a runner on occasion, he will play a different role in the NFL than Kamara, but their calling card is their ability to force missed tackles and create additional yardage after contact. The way I see it, this calling card is a product of their elite contact balance. Both players do an excellent job maintaining balance and restarting upon making contact with defenders.