The Giants and Dave Gettleman were not lying after the 2020 season when they stated that they wanted to surround quarterback Daniel Jones with playmakers.
They signed Kenny Golladay, John Ross, Devontae Booker, and Kyle Rudolph; they’re getting running back Saquon Barkley back from his ACL injury; and now they drafted Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Toney was a high school quarterback who was a gadget player in Dan Mullen’s Florida Gators’ offense until the 2020 season, where he caught 70 of 84 targets for 977 yards and ten touchdowns while rushing the ball 19 times for 161 yards and a score.
If Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett can maximize Toney's talents, the Giants may have found themselves a special player in the middle of the first round.
Note: I'm referring to the following video as a basis for evaluating the tape.
Toney had 120 catches on 150 targets, with 12 touchdowns, for 1,583 receiving yards while at Florida. He only dropped three passes, albeit he struggled with drops at the Reese’s Senior Bowl. At the line of scrimmage, Toney is pretty raw with his release; Florida had him in the slot over 86% of the time to avoid defender’s jams and to get him in space.
The playmaking ability is evident in his film. Toney is an exceptional athlete with elite short-area quickness and burst. His long speed is good, but it’s not quite as dynamic as his short-area burst in tight spaces.
Toney does have a second gear of speed that he hits as well; the play at 3:30 highlights a good understanding of tempo on a slot vert. He keeps the defender guessing as he eats into his leverage before sinking his hips and exploding outside, keeping the defender flat-footed and confused - no one on that Alabama defense was catching him there.
As you can see in other parts of the video, Toney gets tracked down a bit too much from angles that are solid from a defender’s standpoint but angles that a Jaylen Waddle would be able to win against. However, when Toney shakes, Toney bakes--the man slithers around defenders who are attempting to bring him down to the ground.
He is effective at all three levels of the field but is most dangerous in the short area or even behind the line of scrimmage. Florida’s offense designed touches for Toney so he could take advantage of his incredible playmaking ability. He is very effective in space and combines very good agility with excellent contact balance-- he plays a lot bigger than 6’0, 193 pounds.
His routes are still a little raw, but you can see some effective ones in his film. There are times where he doesn’t look as smooth coming out of some breaks; this may be control issues going into the break--it’s not a lack of ability or fluidity because some of his movement ability and hip fluidity are more than apparent on tape. If he masters speed control and tempo, he can be dangerous on double moves.
Toney creates separation more so with his quickness and shiftiness rather than as a nuanced route runner. He does a good job tracking the football in the air and shows concentration ability and the knack for holding onto football through some tough hits--he has really good physical toughness. There’s a lot to like about Toney, especially when you consider how he’s only been a wide receiver for one full year.
At the 3:45 mark, there’s a nice contested catch against Alabama where he secures the football and almost gets a touchdown by being a nuisance and not allowing the defender to drag him to the ground (he also nearly fumbled there, too).
Toney won’t be hopping over the top of receivers and physically winning at the catch point consistently, but he’s solid in the area of contested catches when tasked to make them (only three in 2020).
- Why the New York Giants Trade With Chicago Was Brilliant
- Day 2 Draft Prospects for New York Giants
- Kadarius Toney: I Have a Lot to Learn About Life as a Giant
As you can see in the highlight video, Toney has really good vision and incredible contact balance for a player that isn’t a running back. Check out the first play, a simple jet-sweep, and Toney sees the blocking develop and hits the hole; he then runs through a tackle, collects his balance, and breaks away with good acceleration before being tracked down.
Toney runs with a lot of physicality. At the 1:10 mark, it looks like he’s covered in grease as the Mizzou defenders attempt to tackle him from several different angles, but they fail. It’s evident all over his film, but you can see it again around the 2:58 mark of the highlights video.
Toney isn’t an easy player to bring to the deck. He runs low, behind his pads, and doesn’t allow weak tackle attempts to bring him down. He also shows really good vision and a one-cut ability.
There’s a lot of designed rushes for Kadarius Toney, and I hope the Giants continue to feed him the rock in an easy manner; the jet-sweeps, touch passes, and quick bubble screens were very effective for Kyle Trask and the Florida Gators.
Fit with Giants
Jason Garrett and Daniel Jones don’t have any more excuses after these investments the Giants made this off-season. There are so many creative play calls that the Giants can run with the likes, and combinations, of Saquon Barkley, Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, Kyle Rudolph, Evan Engram, and John Ross.
Toney can easily align in the backfield with Barkley, and the amount of stress and attention that would be put on those second-level defenders would be great for New York, and it would allow the Giants to create one on one matchups with Golladay, Slayton, Shepard, or whoever is in the personnel set.
Toney may also find himself on special teams due to his vision, acceleration, burst, and ability to make defenders miss. He was used as a returner at Florida and had a punt return for a touchdown. Seeing him on special teams, with a reduced offensive workload due to the abundance of talent the Giants now have at receiver, may make sense for the Giants in 2021.