The Future: 2021 NFL Draft Prospects Kadarius Toney
Kadarius Toney was one of the few Florida Gators to have a huge 2020 season that is going to lead to an increase is draft value for the upcoming NFL Draft. I think Toney was able to play his way into the first round and he only proved himself even more in the Senior Bowl practices where he was able to continue to dominate and create separation against what is supposed to be the best of the best in the senior class. Toney is an electric playmaker that can take any touch to the end zone with the added value of being a punt/kick returner. He projects best as a slot receiver at the next level who can consistently create separation at all levels of the field and should receive extra, manufactured touches in the run game and with screens. Below I will discuss his hands, his ability to create separation, his release, his ability to adjust and control his body, and his ability to make plays after the catch.
Hands- Toney's hands are good, not great but good. He does a good job of catching the ball away from his body. He didn't record a single drop in the 2020 season but while practicing at the senior bowl he did show a few uncharacteristic drops. It should not be a concern though because of the film he was able to produce in 2020. He will use his body to complete some catches but he knows how to do so while still maintaining the ability to complete the catch. He has shown the ability to also consistently catch the ball outside of his frame and with strong hands where he can pluck the ball out of the air. He isn't the biggest prospect so he isn't going to consistently win contested-catch scenarios.
Separation Quickness- Toney has an elite ability to separate. He can do it at all levels of the field using a very good combination of speed, agility, and acceleration. His burst in and out of cuts is scary good and he can embarrass defenders when running routes. He uses his head and eyes to add into his fakes which often will throw defenders off of what his route is. His athletic ability alone allows him to consistently beat defenders and this year his improvement in his ability to run routes.
Release- His release against both press and off coverage are both very good. He wasn't often pressed but when he was he made defenses regret it. Against press, his suddenness allows him to shake defenders at the line of scrimmage with both inside and outside releases. He does a good job using his hands when defenders press with jams. When attacking off coverage he gains ground quickly on corners. He uses electric moves to fake defenders, often leaving them embarrassed. He will need to increase his overall strength though to deal with corners at the next level who are better at pressing so when he does get jammed at the line of scrimmage he can play through it.
Adjust/Body Control- Toney is a smaller framed player who isn't going to consistently win jump ball scenarios. He does possess the ball skills to adjust well to throws that are outside his frame. He also adjusts well on deep throws where he either has to come back and play through defenders or completely avoid defenders to make the catch. Along the sideline and within the end zone he does a good job with body control, especially with having to stay in bounds.
Yards after the catch (YAC)- This is Toney's best trait. He is a kick/punt returner for a reason. He is electric in the open field with the ability to beat angles with his speed and embarrass defenders in one on one tackling situations in the open field. Every time he touches the ball he has shown that he can create, even when it looks like there is nothing to be created. He is also a tough runner who isn't afraid of contact, with a compact build he has very good contact balance with the ability to absorb contact and keep gaining yards. He has gained the nickname 'Human Joystick' from some of the highlights he has made and he is simply a highlight waiting to happen.
Toney is a receiver who should get taken in the first round. He can easily step in and have an instant impact as a WR2/WR3 who plays mainly out of the slot. He has a similar playing style to Tyreek Hill and teams are seen how hard it is to stop someone as dynamic as Hill. Toney does not possess the same top-end speed but he has a similar burst and run after the catch ability to make highlights at the next level.