Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Why Giants’ Kadarius Toney will emerge as one of the NFL’s best young receiving weapons in 2022

Right now, the name “Kadarius Toney” doesn’t ring a bell with many casual NFL fans outside of those who pull for the Giants

By this time next year, he will be a proverbial “household name” because of the massive breakout he’s going to have in Year 2 with the G-Men.

Toney was uniquely overshadowed despite being selected at No. 20 overall in the 2021 draft due to his standing in the same draft class as Heisman winner Devonta Smith, universally adored Ja’Marr Chase and super-electric Alabama product Jaylen Waddle

Injuries derailed Toney’s rookie season, but it must not be labeled as a disappointment. He flashed in two outings — a 10-catch, 189-yard eruption against the Cowboys and a six-grab, 78-yard effort against the Saints in which he forced five missed tackles — and was low-key ultra-efficient when healthy. 

Just how efficient, you ask? Here’s how Toney’s regular season yards-per-route-run figure — the ultimate efficiency metric for receivers — compared to his 2021 draft class contemporaries:

Amon-Ra St. Brown 912 423 1.74

Elijah Moore

538

308

1.75

Jaylen Waddle

1,015

579

1.75

Devonta Smith

916

517

1.77

Kadarius Toney

420

196

2.14
Ja’Marr Chase 1,455 579 2.51

The above table clearly demonstrates both how small of sample we’re dealing with with Toney and how outstandingly efficient he was when injuries didn’t keep him on the sideline. 

Plenty of Toney’s 420 yards came on individual talent alone. He forced 12 missed tackles on 39 receptions, which equates to a whopping forced missed tackle rate of 30.7%. 

Being a member of the 2.0+ yards per route run and 10+ missed tackles as a rookie club is prestigious and likely signals a star is ready to appear on the scene. 

Since the famed 2014 draft class of receivers, the wideouts other than Toney to force at least 10 missed tackles and average at least 2.0 yards per route run in their debut NFL seasons are Justin Jefferson, Deebo Samuel, A.J. Brown, Hunter Renfrow, Cooper Kupp, Tyreek Hill, Michael Thomas, and Odell Beckham Jr. That’s some fine company.

Among 2021 rookies, only Chase (19) and Rondale Moore (13) forced more missed tackles than Toney last season. The dude is crazy elusive, there’s no doubting that. 

What else is so encouraging about Toney’s 2022 prospects is that his game is less reliant on quarterback or offensive line play than other receivers. So even if you’re almost fully out on Daniel Jones or the Giants blocking unit, don’t let that impact your thoughts on Toney’s future. Because he’s such an electric weapon with the ball in his hands, the Giants will often utilize him on short, high-percentage throws. His average depth of target was only 6.5 yards in his rookie season. 

Remember too — Toney ran 4.38 at the Florida Pro Day in 2021, so there’s also a downfield element to his game. 

Whether it be on short passes, long passes, throws from Jones or always-lurking backup Tyrod Taylor, Toney has all the makings of becoming a nearly impossible to tackle star in his second NFL season. 

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