New York Giants: One underrated early-round receiver to keep an eye on

Kadarius Toney, New York Giants

The New York Giants have a long offseason ahead of them, littered with draft prospects and evaluating talent for the 2021 NFL draft. While they sit pretty with the 11th overall pick and will likely have a shot at a player like Jaylen Waddle or Kyle Pitts, several wide receivers could present valuable targets in the early/mid-rounds.

Ranging from Rondale Moore to Terrace, Marshall, this draft is stacked full of talent at the wide receiver position, so much, so that steams will likely secure a few steals later on. The Giants simply can’t afford to pass on a WR for a second consecutive season, as they utilized their undrafted free agent money to acquire several players who slipped out of the 2020 draft class.

One player who could fall into their labs in the second or third round is Kadarius Toney, who was overshadowed by Kyle Pitts during the 2020 season. Toney hauled in 70 receptions for 984 yards and 10 touchdowns with Florida this past year. He averaged 14.1 yards per reception as their primary receiver.

He reminds me of Waddle for a few reasons because he is a versatile receiver who benefits from pre-snap motion and playing a few feet off the line of scrimmage. In a scheme that moves players around pre-snap, he can be a dangerous weapon in the short/intermediate range. As a former quarterback, he understands timing routes and helping your quarterback by coming back to the football. He is an elite athlete who nearly signed with Alabama before opting to settle in Florida.

The difference between a player like Toney and Waddle is that the Florida product primarily stays in the slot. At 5-foot-11 and 189 pounds, he utilizes various releases and has incredible acceleration off his break. While he’s not the most refined route runner, he’s a playmaker that creates with the ball in his hands. At the NFL level, I anticipate he will work primarily out of the slot, which isn’t a problem for the Giants if they elect to acquire his services.

He would be a perfect fit for teams that like to scheme slot receivers open and get them into space. Organizations like the Chiefs, 49ers, and Ravens might benefit from a player of his capacity. It is hard to place a pro-comparison on his head given his extreme athleticism off the LOS and great speed. He showed off his releases during Senior Bowl practice this past week, and we should get a nice glimpse of him during the Bowl game on Saturday.

Given the buzz that is circulating from his performance this week, he may get selected in the first round, but I believe he will drop to the second. He could easily play in the “Z” alignment, and with a receiver like Sterling Shepard beside him, the Giants could do some creative things, given Jason Garrett has the capacity to do curate inventive play-designs.