'Deceptively Strong' Shaka Toney Shapes His Future at the Senior Bowl

Coach James Franklin said Toney's position flexibility and "unbelievable football IQ" will serve him well on NFL draft boards.
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Defensive end Shaka Toney will represent Penn State this week at the Senior Bowl, his first step toward becoming a player in the NFL edge-rushing market ahead of the 2021 draft.

Penn State coach James Franklin said Toney has a good head start.

"I think he's deceptively strong," Franklin said. "He's got tremendous quickness and he's got an unbelievable football IQ. He's one of those guys you don't see very often on the defensive line, where he was making a lot of the calls and communication up front. And a lot of his playmaking didn't just come from his athleticism. It came from his football intelligence as well."

Toney (6-3, 252) is part of a bookend set of Penn State defensive ends in the draft this season. Jayson Oweh left Penn State after three seasons, one as a starter, to make himself eligible for the NFL. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr. wondered about that decision, saying he was "really surprised" that Oweh left early.

Toney, meanwhile, was a two-year starter and four-year contributor who led the team with seven sacks. He finished his career with 19.5, tying for 10th on Penn State's career list.

Toney was best known for his intense bursts of pressure. Against Indiana in 2018, Toney tied the school record with four sacks, all of which he made in the fourth quarter. In the 2020 opener at Indiana, Toney delivered another dominant fourth quarter, making two sacks and significant late-game pressure.

An All-Big Ten defensive end, Toney will bring position flexibility to the NFL, Franklin said. He can be a speedy edge rusher ("The thing that jumps out at you is his quickness," Franklin said) or play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Franklin said Toney would fit both options well.

Further, Franklin said he expects Toney to test well, even if his opportunities are limited to the Senior Bowl and on-campus Pro Day. In fact, without an NFL scouting combine and in-person visits, Toney looks to make his best impression at the Senior Bowl.

"I think he's got a bright future," Franklin said.

Toney is Penn State's lone representative at the Senior Bowl. He is listed on the National roster, which will be coached by the Miami Dolphins staff.

The game is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the University of South Alabama. NFL Network will televise.

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