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Unpacking Future Packers: No. 20 Kadarius Toney

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Next up in the Unpacking a Future Packers countdown is Kadarius Toney. The Florida wide receiver checks in at no 20 in the countdown.

It’s been 19 years since the Green Bay Packers selected a wide receiver in the first round. With no wide receiver under contract past the 2021-2022 season, that streak could end in this year’s draft.

If the Packers do select a wide receiver with the 29th pick there are a handful of players they could target. Florida’s Kadarius Toney (if he falls) would likely be high on Brian Gutekunst’s board. 

Toney had a breakout season for the Gators this past season. Toney proved to be one of the best playmakers in college football, catching 70 passes for 984 yards and 10 touchdowns. Toney added one rushing touchdown and one punt-return touchdown. 

“He’s going to be fun to coach at the next level,” Florida head coach Dan Mullen said. “I still think his wide receiver skills are developing. He was a high school quarterback. I thought he really came into his own at the receiver position this year. Learning how to be a route runner. I still think he has a huge future in front of him that way.”

Toney was the most electric player with the ball in his hands this past season. He’s a tackle-breaking machine. According to Pro Football Focus he broke 20 tackles on his 70 catches and averaged 6.8 yards after the catch. 

Toney is the human joystick. He just moves differently. He has excellent quickness (4.41 40-yard dash). Toney looks like a running back with the ball in his hands, displaying good balance through contact. He has elite acceleration, quickly going from zero-to-60. Toney has the ability to turn small plays into it big plays with his YAC ability. Get the ball in his hands quickly and let him create. 

“We used him as a get it and go guy,” Mullen said. “He’s a guy you can move around. He can play in the slot…He’s a powerful runner. You can put him in the backfield and run the ball…He’s a guy you can move to different spots…Try to create matchups.”

PFF compared Toney to Dante Hall, the former Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver and return man. Toney runs more violently than Hall did, but the shiftiness comparison is there.  

He has the same style of movement, which is to say he’s an absolute nightmare for defenders to try and contend with. He has a nasty dead leg and the ability to just completely fake a defender in the wrong direction — all within a yard of moving. Even just from his first couple of targets on this tape, it’s clear we’re looking at someone with special skills.

Toney has come a long way as a route runner. There are times where he has some wasted steps. However, he’s able to burst in and out of his breaks without having to gear down. Toney said during Florida’s pro day that route running was an area of his game that he was working on. 

“I haven’t been doing this for a long, long time,” Toney said. “I make sure I work on that all the time. I’m working on the techniques…Me being a step ahead will allow me to play even faster.”

Toney has strong, steady hands. He’s able to pluck the ball from outside his frame without slowing down. According to PFF he only had three drops during his career at Florida.

As a run blocker, Toney isn’t afraid to mix it up with linebackers. He blocks with a competitive edge. He’s not going to be driving anybody into the ground, but the effort is there.

Toney brings special teams value as a return man. Toney averaged 21.6 yards per kick return. As a punt returner, he averaged 11.3 yards and had one career punt return touchdown. 

Dane Brugler, the NFL Draft analyst for The Athletic has Toney listed as the fourth wide receiver in a loaded class. Here is what Brugler had to say about Toney:

A loose, elastic athlete, Toney routinely makes the first man miss with special start/stop twitch, frustrating would-be tacklers and creating explosive plays. While he is an improved route-runner, he remains a work-in-progress with his steps and tempo and his freelancing will backfire at times. Overall, Toney is still more of a gadget player than polished receiver (and his off-field and durability will be debated in war rooms), but he boasts the one-step burst, body balance and underrated toughness to be a big-play ignitor. He projects as a versatile NFL weapon on offense and special teams.

Fit with the Packers

The Packers finished last season as the No. 1 scoring offense in the NFL. Now imagine adding a playmaker like Toney to the mix. Matt LaFleur would have a hay-day with Toney. 

Davante Adams is likely the only wide receiver currently on the roster that will be on the roster for week one of the 2022 season. It’s time that the Packers restock the talent inside the wide receiver cupboard at 1265 Lombardi Avenue. 

Toney is not just a wide receiver. He’s a weapon that’s capable of impacting the game in a variety of ways. He’s a versatile chess piece. A team can line in him in the backfield. He can line up in the slot or on the boundary. He can be utilized on jet sweeps. 

“What makes me unique is my playmaking ability,” Toney said. “I don’t see anybody making the plays I’m able to make.”

Toney is still learning the nuances of the wide receiver position. A creative play-caller like LaFleur could get him manufactured touches while he polishes the rest of his game. 

Toney is one of the best, if not the best YAC wide receiver in this class. The Packers were the most prolific and efficient offenses in the league last season. They managed to do that without having a true YAC weapon on the team. Toney would bring the YAC attack back to Titletown. 

If Toney is on the board when the Packers are on the clock (big if) with the 29th pick, Gutekunst could do LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers a favor by selecting the YAC monster. 

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