Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida Gators
Size: 5-foot-11 and 194 pounds
Age: 22-years-old (1/27/1999)
The word “destiny” gets thrown around a lot this time of year. For Toney, however, it’s particularly apt. After all, his mother, Lashandra Toney, went into labor with Kadarius at the 1999 Senior Bowl. The youngest of seven, Toney began playing organized youth football at the age of six. Noting his undeniable athleticism, the coach had the youngster playing QB by the second practice.
Growing up in the Eight Mile neighborhood of Mobile, Toney would shuffle positions for much of his career. His speed clearly showed up on the track field. But his overall dynamism was most evident on the football green. A legend at Blount High, Toney recorded 120 touchdowns as a receiver, running back, and quarterback while playing for the Leopards. Lauded as one of the most prolific dual-threat QBs in the area, he closed out his high school career with a 20-5 overall record as a starter (2015 and 2016).
Given the ATH distinction, Toney was a three-star prospect who drew offers from Alabama, Georgia Tech, and Florida. He committed to the Gators and quickly began toggling (for the most part) between RB and WR.
Shoulder and shin injuries disrupted a good portion of Toney’s time in Gainesville, limiting the Alabama native to eight games in 2017 and seven in 2019. In 2020, however, the then-senior emerged as Florida’s WR1, converting 70 of 84 looks for 977 yards and 10 TDs over an 11 game span.
He opted out of the Cotton Bowl to prepare for the NFL Draft and the 2021 Senior Bowl, where he earned receiver of the week honors (American Team) ... because, well, that’s destiny for ya.
Pros: Athletic instincts and maneuverability that can’t be taught, elite ability after the catch (broke a tackle on over 35 percent of his college career touches); versatile offensive weapon.
Cons: Unpolished route-runner; limited experience in contested situations; durability concerns.
The Big Picture
If you’re looking to end an evening early, sip something every time Toney’s “pure athleticism” is mentioned.
It may be redundant, but the 22-year-old is the physical manifestation of every single oft-used adjective casually spewed by draftniks in the springtime. Kat is a quick-twitch baller with jaw-dropping change-of-direction skills who can accelerate to top speed faster than you can say the word “accelerate.”
Having taken the bulk of his snaps via the slot, the Florida product is by no means a complete route runner. However, he’s demonstrated steady growth over his four years in Alachua County, as evidenced by his three drops on 150 targets. Durability might be an issue, but figuring out how to best (and most consistently) use the Yung Joka could be the rookie’s biggest challenge moving forward.
NFL Comp: Deebo Samuel is the modern comp, but there’s a lot of Percy Harvin in his game as well.
Given the above comp, Toney feels like he could be Kyle Shanahan’s “type.” That likely means he’s also Mike LaFleur’s type. Therefore, if we are to assume that Zach Wilson will soon don Gotham Green for the Jets, it’s likely the team might surround their presumptive starting QB with electric playmakers who have shined in the scheme expected to be utilized by their new offensive coordinator.
All of this is to say, I think he could land in New York. And if he does, I’m going to take a wait-and-see approach on him from a fantasy POV.
The upside is obvious, but evolution takes time … especially in East Rutherford.
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