The Kadarius Toney Trade: A Scouting Perspective

Matt Waldman’s RSP examines the pending deal between the Giants and Chiefs involving mercurial wide receiver Kadarius Toney.

The Kadarius Toney Trade Is A Potential Win-Win-Win

Note: You can also listen to these and additional thoughts by opting for the podcast at the bottom of the page. 

I think the Kadarius Toney deal is a good trade.

Giants’ Head Coach Brian Daboll inherited immature players at the wide receiver position in Toney and Kenny Golladay. Immaturity is seen as a negative and it can be. But in this case, it’s more about youth, lack of perspective, and/or these players being unintentionally enabled to think they are better than they are.

Fred Taylor was a dynamic and immature talent early in his career. I actually used much of the behind-the-scenes details an NFL personnel employee shared with me about Taylor to formulate this RSP Writer’s Project exercise nearly a decade ago. Taylor grew out of his behavior and became a locker-room stalwart.

I have to believe that when Daboll took the Giants’ gig, he saw Toney as the most salvageable. Golladay earned a second deal off the backs of Golden Tate and Marvin Jones. These veterans created optimal matchups for Golladay and he earned targets from a tough, big-armed passer in Matthew Stafford.

Obviously, Golladay has NFL skills to produce at a high level, but he needs more surrounding talent to achieve that productivity than a true primary receiver. Unfortunately, the Giants expected Golladay to be a primary option and it was an unrealistic expectation.

Gabriel Davis’ touters among NFL organizations and fantasy players in dynasty formats should take heed. (Also see Alvin Harper and Peerless Price for additional historical context).

Toney is an immense talent who can beat anyone one-on-one. Combined with his ball tracking and open-field skills, he has many of the traits to become a primary receiver. Behavior and habits in and out of the facility were the forms of maturity questions for Toney.

Where Toney Has to Improve to Realize This Trade’s Potential

The inherent issue with Toney’s game that concerned me since Florida was how out of control his footwork can be. He uses a lot of wide-radius cuts that lead to slipping and awkward planting with routes and ball carrying.

I was worried injuries would be a potential recurring issue because most receivers make the required dynamic moves within routes in an efficient manner that’s trained. He can do things that work and, when they do, work at a high level. The downside is the sustainability of his movement style.

Toney’s moves are so dynamic but out of control, there’s a logical underpinning to his availability being an issue. The moves that make him productive may require too much from his body to sustain. In other words, he may not be effective unless “healthier” than what the average threshold for healthy is for most.

That is another factor with scouting that isn’t underscored enough: Does the player have to be healthy at a higher threshold than what coaches normally expect from a player in order to produce?

This is different than lacking toughness. Movement styles can be tough to unlearn and deficiencies may make the player an all-or-nothing option because they need to be 100 percent to execute these physically-demanding movements. Scouts and organizations have to be cognizant of this possibility when scouting talent.

Combine these two factors of injury and maturity and it presents head coaches with a choice. In almost every situation of this type, a veteran head coach prefers reliability to mercurial behavior — even when it is high-upside talent. Daboll knew he faced these challenges with Toney this heading into the summer and set a clear boundary that sends a message to the players and sets the culture.

Daboll likely set the tone this summer about an open competition to see if he could get both Golladay and Toney to mature in the ways they needed to. For Golladay, it was likely getting him to understand that a big contract doesn’t mean there’s nothing to prove or improve upon.

The drivers of Golladay’s success in Detroit combined with his second contract enabled a perspective on him that he has less to prove than he actually does. A deal of his type can reinforce both positive and negative behaviors and that’s something that a personnel department must be cognizant of. Golladay’s big contract likely makes him entrenched in this thinking that he deserves to be on the field even if the front office made the mistake of paying a complementary weapon to play a primary role.

Daboll likely knew this heading in New York. He had to think that he might have more success reaching Toney with this message and if he could do the same with Golladay, even better, but not the primary objective.

After all, if Daboll is benching the highly-paid free agent in Golladay to enforce boundaries set for the team, then no one would be immune, even an early-round draft pick like Toney. This also sends a message to the team about the culture Daboll is establishing and that he’s being fair.

It’s a great move to make in year one as a coach. It’s also wise to target a position that was bloated salary-wise relative to its production and deflect some of the attention away from Daniel Jones.

Where Kansas City Could Win This Deal

Kansas City gets a player in Toney who can be a top-five receiver in the NFL if he refines his movements where they are too wild and grows up the way many in their early 20s have to. Toney’s contact balance, release skills, and ball-tracking are fantastic. He could be Tyreek Hill in a different way physically but force defenses to account for him similar to Hill in KC’s offense.

Being a part of a top organization where he won’t be enabled purely on the basis of his talent versus the rest of the depth chart could facilitate this lesson. If not, the Chiefs gave up just enough to take that shot without incurring a huge loss.

I am rooting for Toney. He could be one of the most entertaining players in football. At the same time, understand the risks involved with him if you’re attempting to project his future value.

And of course, if you want to know about the rookies from this draft class, you will find the most in-depth analysis of offensive skill players available (QB, RB, WR, and TE), with the 2022 Rookie Scouting Portfolio for $21.95. 

Matt’s new RSP Dynasty Rankings and Two-Year Projections Package is available for $24.95

If you’re a fantasy owner and interested in purchasing past publications for $9.95 each, the 2012-2020 RSPs also have a Post-Draft Add-on that’s included at no additional charge.  

If you’re a fantasy owner and interested in purchasing past publications for $9.95 each, the 2012-2020 RSPs also have a Post-Draft Add-on that’s included at no additional charge.  

Best yet, proceeds from sales are set aside for a year-end donation to Darkness to Light to combat the sexual abuse of children. 

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