2021 NFL Draft Rookie Profile: Kadarius Toney (Fantasy Football)
As you’ll hear throughout the offseason, this 2021 NFL Draft class is full of great WR prospects that are available to dynasty managers in the second round of rookie drafts. If you miss out on a Jaylen Waddle or a Ja’Marr Chase, there’s comfort in knowing there are some strong options available in the early to middle of the second round. One of those names: Kadarius Toney, the explosive and violent route runner out of Florida.
Before breaking down how Toney projects for fantasy football, I’ll review his college production profile, look at his measurables and then perform an analysis of what’s on tape and what’s missing from his game. Let’s get to it!
Editors Note: This article is part of our Rookie Profile series going on until the 2021 NFL Draft. For more on each rookie, check out Andy, Mike, and Jason’s exclusive rookie rankings and production profiles found only in the Dynasty Pass, part of the brand-new UDK+ for 2021.
College Production Profile
|Games||Receptions||Receiving Yards||Yards/Reception||Receiving TD||Rushing Att||Rushing Yards||Rushing TD|
If you use statistical thresholds like dominator rating and breakout age to scout rookie prospects, you’re probably going to want to throw something at your computer screen while reading this. Look, there’s no other way to put it – Kadarius Toney’s college production profile leaves a lot to be desired. We’re talking about a prospect who didn’t eclipse 300 receiving yards in a season until 2020 in his final year at Florida, giving him a breakout age of just 21.6 per the production profiles in the Dynasty Pass. How about his dominator rating? Nope, that’s not good either. Toney’s dominator rating of 23% is among the worst in this class.
However, simply looking at Toney’s production profile without context won’t tell the full story. Toney was recruited out of high school as a dual-threat quarterback, and as you can tell in his production profile, the Florida coaching staff wasn’t really sure how to use this guy in his first two seasons on campus. Toney was used as a gadget player in 2017 and 2018, leading to him having almost the exact same number of receptions and rushing attempts combined in those two seasons. The staff viewed him as a weapon rather than a true WR, and his usage early in his college career reflects this. Heck, Toney even played some wildcat QB in his first few seasons on campus, and he returned kicks, too. In 2019, Toney’s season was limited by injuries, causing him to miss about half of his junior campaign. But, in 2020, it all came together for Toney in a breakout campaign in which he earned All-SEC honors as Florida’s slot WR while setting career highs in every statistical category.
Toney played 83% of his snaps in the slot in his senior season and excelled in this role. His 55 receptions from the slot and 784 slot yards were both the 6th most in the country last year, suggesting his best chance of succeeding in the NFL is likely as a slot WR. He also was heavily utilized close to the line of scrimmage and in the screen game. His 19 receptions on screenplays were tied for 19th most in the NCAA while his average depth of target of just 7.7 is one of the lowest in the entire class. All in all, these underlying stats help us to understand how Florida utilized this guy as a weapon. Clearly, the goal was to get the ball in Toney’s hands quickly and let him go to work.
|Height||Weight||40-Yard Dash (HS)||Vertical Jump (HS)||247Sports|
|6’0″||193 lbs.||4.69||41.4 inches||3-star recruit|
It’s always difficult to discuss a player’s measurables or athletic testing numbers in 2020 given the lack of an NFL Combine, which would have been this past week. However, Florida’s pro day on March 31 will likely help us get additional testing data on Toney and other Florida prospects. His size and stature at about 6 feet tall and just under 200 lbs. is decent for a slot WR in the NFL. If this were a guy who projects to play on the outside, I think that size and weight combination would be a bit concerning, but for the slot WR role, it’s totally fine.
Toney’s 41.4 inch vertical in high school helps to show some of the explosiveness he showed in 2020 on tape. As for his 4.69 40-yard dash, it’s a bit concerning on the surface but we have to remember this is from high school. Toney looks much faster on tape, and I fully expect him to come in much faster at Florida’s pro day in late March.
What’s On Tape
Games Viewed: Ole Miss (2020), Vanderbilt (2020), LSU (2020), Tennessee (2020), South Carolina (2020)
*Note: I decided to focus on Toney’s 2020 tape given the lack of usage and consistent WR role from 2017-2019
1. Kadarius Toney is violent and aggressive in and out of his breaks. RIP to college defender’s ankles.
You could make an argument that Toney is one of the more violent and aggressive route runners in this class. His ability to put his foot in the ground to change direction and then accelerate to create separation showed up on tape over and over again. In this clip, Toney hesitates off the line of scrimmage, sets up the defender to shuffle his feet, and then decisively plants and cuts to the inside to create a lay-up throw for Kyle Trask. His speed after the catch helps him break off a long one for a score.
2. Toney’s acceleration is far more impressive than his speed.
The thing that makes Toney impressive in his playmaking ability is his quickness, burst, and acceleration. He’s certainly fast enough but he doesn’t profile as a burner out of the slot. Rather, Toney knows when it’s time to hit the accelerator, put his foot in the ground, and go. This should help him at the next level be able to get upfield relatively quickly to the point where any potential long speed concerns can be minimized.
3. Kadarius Toney’s experience as a dual-threat high school QB helps him look natural with the ball in his hands after the catch or via the kick return game.
As we discussed in Toney’s production profile, this guy was recruited as an athlete out of high school, basically playing wherever the Gators needed him to in his first couple of seasons. As a result, Toney looks comfortable with the ball in his hands and understands how to set up blockers on screen passes in order to create seams through which to run. He’s also not afraid of contact and can break a tackle when needed. His 20 missed tackles forced were 5th best in the country last year. This should help him find a crease in the defense to pick up chunk yards with the ball in his hands often at the NFL level.
What’s Not on Tape
1. Where are the contested catches?
Toney’s 7.7 average depth of target in 2020 was, as the Ballers say, 320th best, in the country. In other words…not good. Almost every reception I saw on tape was a throw close to the line of scrimmage via a screen pass or a rub route from a teammate to help Toney get separation in the short passing game close to the line. Per PFF, Kadarius Toney only had three contested catches in 2020, yet he was targeted 84 times. Can he do it at the NFL level against better competition? I’m not sure.
2. Toney almost never made a reception along the perimeter.
Ladies and gentlemen, when I say Toney was used as a slot WR, I mean he was used as a slot WR. Almost all of his targets came in and around the line of scrimmage or across the middle of the field. This isn’t to say he didn’t run the occasional out route to the sideline or a flare route – he did. However, there isn’t a lot of work on the outside on tape, so if he lands in an NFL system that tries to utilize him as a pure outside receiver, this is a cause for concern.
2021 Fantasy Outlook
Kadarius Toney is actually getting a lot of love from NFL Draft analysts with some recent mocks having Toney being selected in the first round of April’s NFL Draft. More recently, NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah released his top 50 overall prospects, and he ranked Toney as his 21st overall player – not offensive player, not skill position player, not wide receiver – his 21st best prospect in all of football. Obviously, these are high remarks for a guy who didn’t really excel all that well in college, especially early in his career. Even so, Toney’s dynamic ability to contribute in a variety of ways fits today’s NFL. As a result, I expect Toney to be a better real-life NFL player in his rookie season than a fantasy football contributor. However, any wide receiver that gets first-round NFL Draft capital should absolutely be on our radar for dynasty formats.
Toney looks like he’s going to be available in the majority of rookie drafts in the early to middle second round, making him one of my favorite targets in that range. However, it’s important to understand that Toney may be a bit of a developmental prospect at the next level. He ran a limited route tree at Florida, barely produced early in his career, and is still learning the WR position. Because of these factors, forward-thinking dynasty managers may be able to trade for Toney at a value after what projects to a learning curve year in his first NFL season.