When it comes to pure playmakers and dynamic performers with the ball in hand, Florida’s Kadarius Toney might be at the top of the list in the 2021 NFL Draft. The man they call the “Human Joystick” has been linked to the New England Patriots, who need a player capable of producing chunk plays.
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Sports Illustrated’s Arnav Sharma asked the question: is Toney the Patriots’ next slot receiver? That’s a position the Patriots need to fill even more now that Julian Edelman has retired.
Sharma insists Toney compares favorably to Alabama star Jaylen Waddle. He wrote:
Florida receiver Kadarius Toney possesses a combination of speed and quickness that makes him dangerous at every level of the football field. The 2020 First-Team All-SEC receiver and former track star has the ability to show off his incredible YAC ability on screens, displays a fairly good zone soft-spot IQ in the intermediate game, and can flat out burn defensive backs playing off-man with 10 yards of cushion. With Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle being widely touted as the premiere speedster of this year’s draft (including by me), Toney has largely been overshadowed; in fact, going into my film session this week, I expected to see a large difference between the two prospects. After looking at each player’s film “very powerfully,” as we say in my scouting group, I found the difference between Waddle and Toney to be miniscule.
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Kadarius Toney’s Versatility and Athleticism are Undeniable
While the straight-line speed might not be on the same level as Waddle or even J’Marr Chase, his 4.39 40-time and 40-inch vertical proves he’s an elite athlete.
Perhaps even more impressive and practical from an NFL-placement standpoint is Toney’s versatility. Whether he’s working out of the slot, out wide, from the backfield, or on special teams as a punt returner, there is reason to believe he could make a significant impact as a weapon in the NFL.
Dare we say Toney has some similarities to Percy Harvin. Take a look at some of these plays from his days in Florida.
There are Concerns About Toney’s Commitment to Football
Toney has a budding rap career, and some talent evaluators are concerned music is a bigger priority for him than football. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler noted some of those concerns as well as a handful of off-the-field incidents.
Some NFL scouts have voiced concern that he is more passionate about rapping than football (his stage name is Yung Joka)…off-field decision making requires vetting due to multiple off-field incidents: suspended for the 2018 season opener after his involvement in an on-campus confrontation between players and Gainesville locals where he painted an air-soft gun to look like an AR-15 assault rifle (May 2018); Pulled over by Gainesville Police, which revealed an authentic and loaded AR-15 rifle in his back seat (July 2018) that Toney had “for protection because of the locals” (no charges filed.
If Toney can prove that he is all-in on football and has matured beyond some of the other decisions that could derail his career, he could be an excellent fit for the Patriots’ already improved passing game.