Patriots: New England should trade down and draft this wideout
By Mike Luciano
Wide receiver will be high atop Bill Belichick’s list of targets for the New England Patriots in the 2021 NFL Draft, but the potential of Jaylen Waddle going off the board before the Patriots should get Belichick spooked.
If Waddle isn’t there at No. 15, Belichick might trade down and take another SEC jitterbug in Florida’s Kadarius Toney.
Toney was an offensive weapon that struggled to get consistent touches in his first few years in the swamp.
With Dan Mullen naming him a starting wide receiver and Kyle Trask’s No. 2 target behind Kyle Pitts, Toney thrived, totaling 70 catches, 984 yards, and 10 touchdowns as a receiver.
After a quality season in Gainesville and an impressive Senior Bowl, Toney has vaulted up draft boards, and the expectation is that he will likely be picked somewhere around the end of the first round.
With so many teams in need of receiver talent, the Patriots need to make getting Toney a priority if they want to add him to their ranks.
What would Kadarius Toney bring to the Patriots?
Toney is far from a finished prospect, as his route tree was somewhat limited in a very basic Florida offense and he only has one year under his belt that featured any sort of sustained offensive production. Despite all of that, this human joystick looks like an electric runner.
Toney is most effective with the ball in his hands, as his ability to stop, start and accelerate to top speed is nothing short of astonishing. He’s started to challenge defenses deep down the field more frequently, and the early returns have looked extremely promising.
Toney has dropped just 2.4% of his targets in college, a mark that stands as the lowest of any receiver in this class. On 111 touches since the start of 2019, Toney has amassed 60 first downs and 44 missed tackles, a testament to how difficult he is to bring down.
The Patriots’ receiving corps was as boring and uninspiring as any in the NFL, as they lacked both the creativity to break tackles and the speed to allow Josh McDaniels to open up the playbook down the field.
Toney has all the tools of a potential star in the making who can contribute as a rookie, and the dimension he brings to the offense might be good enough to get the Patriots back into the playoffs and make them at least an average offense again.