As the NFL trends further and further toward a new modern age, efficiency is becoming increasingly important. Players who can do more with less, fulfill many roles, and create beyond their expected value are coveted. In the 2021 NFL Draft, Florida Gators wide receiver Kadarius Toney aligns well with that prototype.
Kadarius Toney NFL Draft Profile & Senior Bowl Measurements
- Position: Wide Receiver
- School: Florida
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 5’11 1/8″
- Weight: 189 pounds
- Wingspan: 74 1/2″
- Arm: 30 1/2″
- Hand: 9 1/2″
As a four-star recruit in Alabama, Kadarius Toney naturally had the Alabama Crimson Tide on his offer list. The 6-foot-0, 177-pound athlete was a bit underweight, but his natural ability was apparent even in his high school days.
Before Toney’s athletic profile was fully developed, he managed to run a 40-yard dash in the 4.6’s, and he also logged a vertical jump over 41 inches, near the top of his recruiting class. Toney’s talent was undeniable, and it earned him interest from some of the nation’s most prestigious football programs.
Toney received offers from Alabama and Auburn, and he wound up staying in the SEC. But Toney’s commitment would instead take him out of state, to the Florida Gators. There, Toney would join a star-studded offensive cast, but he wouldn’t reach his full potential until years later.
Kadarius Toney’s progression as a Florida wide receiver
Kadarius Toney saw the field in his true freshman season. However, despite his natural talent, he didn’t have a consistent role. Even after Antonio Callaway’s suspension opened up opportunities for the offense, Toney mustered just 15 catches for 152 yards. He was used with a loose positional designation under Jim McElwain, and when Dan Mullen replaced McElwain in 2018, Toney still struggled to produce.
In Toney’s first two years with Mullen, he just 35 combined receptions for 454 yards and two touchdowns. Toney’s lack of production wasn’t completely his fault, however. The offense lacked consistency with Feleipe Franks under center. Additionally, Florida’s wide receiver group was too deep for Toney to conquer in 2019. In 2020, though, the path cleared for Toney, and he emerged in explosive fashion.
Kadarius Toney’s breakout 2020 season
Thus far in the 2020 college football season, Kadarius Toney has 70 receptions for 984 yards and ten touchdowns. He also produced on the ground, accumulating 19 attempts for 161 yards and a score. Toney’s efforts earned him recognition as one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award, presented to the nation’s best wide receiver.
Toney benefitted from the ascension of Kyle Trask. Trask provided competence as a passer at the quarterback position, something Florida hasn’t truly had for a long time. With that being said, Toney has correspondingly contributed to Trask’s historic production. Toney provides the Florida offense with a threat at all three levels, and as his usage has increased, so has his exposure.
Kadarius Toney is one of the NFL Draft’s most dynamic receivers
Above all else, Kadarius Toney is one of the most dynamic wide receivers in the NFL Draft. His skill set is exhilarating, and he’s simply electric with the ball in his hands. Toney employs a number of traits to produce on the field, most notably his elite explosiveness, acceleration capacity, and agility in open space.
When it comes to pure explosion, Toney might not have any competitors at the receiver position. He has the ability to generate immense amounts of forward momentum with rare suddenness and pace. Additionally, his direction changes are effortless, and out of those direction changes, Toney can pick up speed in no time.
Toney’s explosiveness makes him an elite weapon in space, but he also has the contact balance to fight through congestion. Despite his relatively light weight, Toney is fairly compact, and he can bounce off defenders and use his agility to blunt contact. He reacts to contact with impressive quickness and has the balance to stay on his feet and explode to safety.
Toney’s explosiveness also serves him well in the deep third
Just as Kadarius Toney’s short-range athleticism helps him as a YAC weapon, it also helps him produce down the field. Toney has the burst and speed off the line to rocket by defenders. If a cornerback isn’t prepared to flip his hips, look out. Toney will have an open field ahead of him.
Additionally, Toney employs otherworldly twitch as a route runner. While he has room to refine his route running process further, many of Toney’s routes involve him using his speed to streak upfield and take advantage of blind spots. At the stem, all Toney has to do is sell enough to shake his man, and Toney does that well with his natural jitter. He’s so good at feigning quick direction changes while keeping control and maintaining his speed. This makes him a lethal weapon for unprepared defensive backs.
Toney doesn’t have a lot of film regarding his contested catch ability, and his frame and lack of length limit that ability. But regardless, contested catch proficiency isn’t Toney’s game. Toney’s game revolves around creating separation and creating yards after catch. Some of his trait descriptions may resemble hyperbole, but that’s truly how Toney operates. He’s an elite athlete with a rare combination of explosiveness, contact balance, and field vision. That’s an archetype that’s starting to carry more weight in the NFL.
Kadarius Toney’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
When looking at only his skill set, Kadarius Toney is a first-round prospect. He’s a dynamic receiver who can create big plays from behind the line of scrimmage to 50 yards down the field. There’s a great amount of versatility that comes with a player like Toney, NFL teams like prospects who can do more, and with his athletic traits, Toney can do more than most.
Now that he’s passed the test on the field, however, Toney has to pass the offseason next. Character evaluations will be big for the Florida wide receiver. Outside of that, he should be able to maintain his draft stock. The NFL Combine allows Toney to confirm his elite athleticism. The Senior Bowl will also let Toney show off his skills against comparable competition.
Regardless, character evaluations wrap up the process for Toney. If he gets through those, nothing is stopping him from going Round 1. If teams have cause for concern, then he’ll likely fall to Day 2. Round 3 seems like the floor for a player with his talent, but the nature of his character will determine that specific boundary.
Because of this, Toney’s range is fairly wide at the moment. A.J. Schulte mocked Toney to the Patriots in Round 2 in his recent mock draft. Additionally, teams like the Chiefs, 49ers, and Ravens could be good schematic fits for him. Teams must use Toney the right way. But his 2020 season provides a blueprint for success on that front, and Toney himself provides the firepower.