by Rob Mongole
Kadarius Toney has seen a massive rise in his draft stock during the 2020 season. The 5’11”, 189 pound senior wide receiver out of Florida has recently been projected by Mel Kiper of ESPN as a 1st round NFL draft pick. Kiper has mocked him at both the 19th pick to Washington and the 20th pick to Chicago. Toney is also someone who has been getting some first round love in dynasty mocks, both in superflex and single QB leagues. While I don’t hate Toney as a prospect, I don’t see myself having any shares of Toney in rookie drafts if his ADP remains locked in as a late first or early second round pick.
Before my inbox fills up with hate mail, let’s discuss the many positive traits Toney can bring to an NFL team and your dynasty team.
Athleticism and Versatility
Toney was a two-sport athlete coming out of high school where he ran track and played quarterback. He had a 40-yard dash in the 4.6’s and a 41 inch vertical jump in high school. Elite numbers for highschool and numbers which will surely be improved upon during pre-draft testing. From watching film, I don’t believe we will see Toney run in the 4.3’s, but he will likely have one of the best three-cone times in the draft class. Toney has great speed, but elite change of direction. He came into Florida being labeled an athlete and bounced back and forth between wide receiver and running back in camp. He is comfortable taking snaps all over the field, whether it is lined up out wide, in the slot, in the backfield as a running back, even in the wildcat.
Yards after Catch Ability:
If I was rating prospects solely off of their YouTube highlights, Toney would be a top 5 pick. Toney is a touchdown threat whenever he is in the open field. Once Toney has the ball in his hands he uses a combination of excellent vision, quick feet, and lateral agility to rip off huge chunk plays. He displays excellent contact balance for a sub-200 pound player.
Senior Year Production:
Between rushing and receiving work, Toney had over 1,000 combined yards his Senior season at Florida. He had 70 receptions across 11 games for 984 yards and 10 receiving touchdowns. He also added 161 yards on 19 attempts and 1 touchdown on the ground. 89 plays for 11 combined touchdowns is elte. Toney impressively averaged a touchdown every 8.09 touches.
Size and Durability:
At 5’11 and 189 pounds, Toney has neither the size or weight NFL teams covet at either the running back or wide receiver position. Additionally, Toney has not proven he can stay healthy at the collegiate level. Throughout his time in Gainesville he dealt with nagging injuries to his shoulders and shins, missing about half of his junior season.
Contested Catch Ability and Route Running:
Toney’s ADOT (average depth of target) was a meager 7.7 yards. When watching Toney’s film, a majority of receptions were close to the line of scrimmage. Toney was typically used in a screen pass or underneath routes. Per PFF, Toney only had 3 contested catches on 84 targets in 2020. Toney has had his hands questioned after a series of drops at the Senior Bowl, but Toney only had 3 drops on 150 targets in his 4 seasons at Florida. The bigger concern is Toney’s tendency to trap the ball against his body while making a catch. I can’t see Toney lasting long in the league if he doesn’t learn to trust his hands.
Toney was caught with a loaded AR-15 in his vehicle, but was ultimately not arrested or charged as it was not deemed a violation of Florida’s open carry law. He was also suspended alongside some Gator teammates for the first game of the 2018 season after an altercation with a local gambler in which players brandished weapons including airsoft rifles resembling AK47s and AR-15s, as well as one carrying a frying pan.
Breakout Age: (receptions/TD share)
Toney never had more than 300 receiving yards in a season until his Senior year! Despite his breakout Senior year, he accounted for only 21.74% of Florida’s touchdowns, just a little over 2% higher than fellow Florida receiver Trevon Grimes who is projected as an NFL round 4-6 draft pick. For comparison, Devonta Smith and Elijah Moore had over a 54% touchdown share. Some of this can be blamed on Feleipe Franks being his quarterback in his early years. However, I would have hoped Toney would be a bit more quarterback proof considering he does most of his damage near the line of scrimmage.
Verdict and Pro Comps:
I have seen Toney frequently compared to Deebo Samuel and occasionally Tyreek Hill. My comp for Toney is Randall Cobb. Cobb is also where I see Toney’s ceiling. He is an athletic but raw prospect, who I expect to see primarily in the slot in the NFL. If he can refine his route running and demonstrate some contested catch ability he can become a solid WR2 for your fantasy team. Toney may ultimately be a better NFL player than fantasy asset.
Cobb’s best season had him finish as the WR8 in PPR (2014). Cobb’s next best seasons were in 2012 and 2015, where he finished as the PPR WR 15 and 25 respectively. In the late first and early second round of rookie drafts, I would rather take my shot at a potential WR1 or other skill position rather than take my shot at a guy who I believe perennially finishes as a low end WR2 or high WR3.
Toney’s current pre-draft ADP is about where Deebo Samuel went in 2019 superflex drafts. While Deebo has flashed and came out in a much shallower (not weaker) wide receiver class than 2021’s, I doubt many people are happy with that pick 2 years in. According to KeepTradeCut, for a late 2021 first, I would rather send out trade offers for JuJu, Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods or Laviska Shenault.
I currently have Toney ranked as my WR11 and in the same tier as guys like Elijah Moore, Seth Williams, and Tylan Wallace. At his current ADP, I’d rather pass and take my shot at one of my similarly ranked players a half a round to a full round later. I am not buying into Mel Kiper’s first round NFL hype and see him going in the second round of the NFL draft. The 2021 draft features multiple players with very similar skill sets to Toney. Amari Rodgers is slightly ahead of Toney in my rankings. Rodgers is a slightly bigger, less athletic version of Toney, but a much better route runner. Dazz Newsome offers a similar size and weight and trades a bit of Toney’s speed for much better hands and route running. Rodgers and Newsome are likely to go later in both NFL and rookie drafts.
Toney has the potential to become an electric slot weapon if he can refine his route running ability and become more confident in his catches, especially contested catches. If you are taking Toney in the first round or early second of your rookie draft, I believe you are drafting a player at his potential ceiling, not his current realistic expectations. He certainly has the athletic tools to be worth a first, but whether Toney can improve other aspects of his game remains to be seen.