Receiver Kadarius Toney, the Giants first-round pick, saw the start of his time with the Giants get off to an inauspicious start, though most of that could be argued that he was a victim of circumstances.
First, a cleats issue forced him to miss snaps during the team's two-day rookie minicamp. Put that one on whoever failed to furnish him with the right shoes.
How about we forgive Toney for being human like the rest of us when he had to miss a day of the mandatory minicamp due to a family emergency that warranted his attention so much that even no-nonsense head coach Joe Judge agreed to excuse the rookie from the camp.
And the fact that after going through rookie camp, he wasn't spotted at two OTA practices open to the media while his contract was being finalized? Sure, you can argue that he had a protection agreement with the team, which assured the same contract had he been injured. But does anyone know if had he been injured, would his rookie deal have been fully guaranteed as it is today?
Thank goodness it never came to that, right?
But along the same vein as Darius Slayton, who in his initial debut for the Giants had a bad case of the dropsies, or Odell Beckham Jr, who dealt with a hamstring injury when he first got to the team, stuff happens.
It's all about how one overcomes adversity, and if Toney can overcome his rocky start the way Beckham and Slayton did theirs, he too will become a productive player for the Giants.
What He Brings
Explosiveness--put on Toney's college tape, and it's hard not to marvel at how quickly he goes from zero to 100 mph with just a few steps.
Add to that an ability to stop-and-start and change direction on a dime, and it's no wonder why Toney forced 43 missed tackles during his college career (with 20 of those coming last season, third-most in all of college football among draft-eligible receivers), making it almost a weekly habit of juking at least one poor defender trying to arm-tackle him.
Toney is also very good at turning short passes into big gainers. Of his 1,583 career receiving yards at Florida, 64.4% of those came after the catch. This makes him an ideal candidate for the shorter passing game, an area where he should continue to thrive.
Versatility? Yes, Toney has that too. He lined up all over Florida's offensive formations, which is how he probably got the "gadget" player label, but he's so much more than a gadget player. Toney is a talent that offers several new layers to an offense in how he can potentially be deployed.
Whether he's working from a bunch formation or the slot, his versatility must have offensive coordinator Jason Garrett excited about the possible ways to deploy him, including on screens, which the Giants haven't executed well for quite some time now.
Toney is in the first of a fully guaranteed four-year rookie deal worth $13,719,508. He will count for $2,494,456 against this year's cap.
With the Giants so loaded now at receiver, how can they get Toney onto the field as much as possible?
One way would be to create, at least at first, a role similar to what he had a Florida in which he lines up all over the offense--in the backfield, in stack or bunch formations, or as a slot receiver.
This will allow the Giants to get him touches in some capacity. And if Saquon Barkley is limited to start the season, the Giants will have yet another option in the backfield besides Devontae Booker.
The 2020 version of the Giants offense had some success with quick half-field reads and short passes in run-after-catch situations, something Toney can deliver given his speed and quickness.
The offense also deployed jet motion (usually with Sterling Shepard or Evan Engram) for quick-hitting gains in space, and those are the kinds of plays for which Toney's skill set appears to be an ideal match.
We probably can expect to see more 10-personnel sets (four receivers), which would allow for Kenny Golladay, Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, and Toney to get on the field at the same time.
Last year, the Giants ran one play out of 10-personnel, according to Sharp Football Stats. (The Arizona Cardinals led the league in the use of 10-personnel, running it 20% of the time--215 plays.)
The use of 10-personnel should help the running game, with or without Barkley, because it will force defenses to spread things out rather than stack up the box. It also forces opposing defenses to deploy more of their sub-packages to guard against the possibility of the pass, which can create more favorable matchups for the running game.
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