Updated: Mar 6
Kadarius Toney has quickly become one of the most polarizing players entering the 2021 draft process among the dynasty football community. Toney's emergence at the University of Florida came out of nowhere. Toney emerged as one of the most prolific slot wide receivers in college football during the 2020 season and that shows in his stats, where he finished the season with 70 receptions for 984 yards and 10 touchdowns. Toney added another 161 yards and one touchdown in the running game.
Toney has the ideal size (5'11", 189 lbs), speed, and shiftiness that is needed to consistently succeed as a slot wide receiver in the NFL. However, if you're the type of dynasty manager that puts a lot of stock into a prospects dominator rating and breakout age when you're scouting then this is probably a player that you will not be a fan of. Throughout Toneys first three years at Florida, he averaged 1.8 receptions, 22.4 yards, and .07 touchdowns per game. Toney never had his breakout until 2020 in which he was 21 years old. This obviously leaves much to be desired, however, there are very viable reasons that could be pointed towards as reasons for it taking Toney so long to breakout.
Toney was a part of the 2017 recruiting class and as a high school prospect was actually recruited as a quarterback. His high school scouting report stated that he was listed as a 6'0", 180 lbs quarterback out of Alabama. Not only was he recruited as a quarterback, but he was also a very low-rated prospect. Toney was a 3-star prospect, ranked as the 421st best prospect in his class, 25th best athlete at his position and the 20th ranked prospect in the state of Alabama. Toney was dealing with changing positions and working his way up the depth chart as a 3-star prospect. Context is critical when reviewing a prospect and provides a very reasonable explanation into why it took Toney so long to break out.
After going through Toneys' production profile, it's time to jump into the game film to get a better idea of Toney's skillset as a wide receiver.
This clip is a great showcase of Toney's proficiency as a route runner. Toneys' quickness, and ability to change direction so quickly is what makes him so special as a slot wide receiver. Toney excels as a route runner/separator in the quick passing game while pairing that with his run after catch ability is a great combination to possess.
With the great players, sometimes all you have to do is get the ball into their hands and let them go to work. Toney does a great job on this handoff of spotting the running lane, exploding through the line, then flashes his playmaking ability and shiftiness with some moves in the open field to avoid oncoming defenders.
You really wouldn't expect toughness or tackle-breaking ability to be a big part of Toney's game, given the fact that he is a 190-pound slot wide receiver. But that's exactly what he displays in this play. Toney is met in the hole by the Mississippi linebacker and he bounces off it like it was nothing, and then accelerates in the second level of the defense for a big play. Toughness can take you a long way in the NFL as a slot wide receiver due to the number of hits you'll be taking across the middle of the field. Toney shows that he has the prowess to deal with those types of hits.
I absolutely love this route from Kadarius Toney. A perfectly timed stutter-step to get his defender to bite, then he flies past him and uses the leverage he just gained to work down the field and towards the numbers to give his quarterback a sizable window between the corner and the safety. Having the ability to separate down the field is huge at the NFL level and Toney shows that it is definitely something he has in his game.
Toney is not just a one-trick pony. He showed the ability to consistently win on short to intermediate routes and create boatloads of separation on those plays. Toney is also a very capable runner of the football when you're giving it to him in the backfield, and he is even more electric when he gets the ball in the open field. Being able to pair those skills together while still being a threat to win down the field will give Toney a phenomenal opportunity to succeed in the NFL.