Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach has found significant success in recent years flipping mid-round draft picks for underachieving young players, but it remains to be seen if that strategy will pay dividends with recently acquired wide receiver Kadarius Toney.
The Chiefs acquired Toney, who was chosen with the No. 11 overall pick by the New York Giants in the 2021 NFL draft, in exchange for a compensatory third-round pick and conditional sixth-round pick, ahead of the Nov. 1 trade deadline. Kansas City clearly is hoping that Toney will add another speedy weapon to quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ arsenal.
However, some inside the league believe it is far from a certainty that Toney will be the latest Veach success story.
“This trade will let us know whether [Toney] can really play, or not,” an AFC personnel executive told Heavy. “He’s more of an offensive weapon than an actual wide receiver. He had a long way to go as a wide receiver coming out, in the draft, and didn’t have much technique or know-how.”
Toney never quite lived up to his first-round billing with the Giants. The former University of Florida star struggled to see and stay on the field as a rookie, after testing positive for COVID-19 before training camp began, battling an ankle injury, and testing positive for COVID-19 again late in the season.
Prior to being traded to Kansas City, Toney caught just 2 of 3 targets for 0 yards in just two games played through Week 7. Giants quarterback Daniel Jones had a meager 70.1 passer rating when targeting Toney in 2022.
“Toney has always been instinctive with his hands,” the executive pointed out. “But not super smart in lining up, running specific routes, or in sight adjustments pre or post-snap.”
How the Chiefs Could Use Kadarius Toney Differently Than the Giants
In Kansas City, Toney will get the benefit of both a change of scenery from already being labeled a “draft bust,” as well as being relieved of the pressure of being one of the team’s top receiving targets.
Likewise, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid might be best equipped to maximize Toney’s speed, explosiveness and elusiveness in the open field, in unique ways in an offense that already features Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Juju Smith-Schuster and running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire in myriad ways.
“The thing that gives him a chance,” the executive pointed out. “Is Kansas City will give him schemed-up plays and a specific package for him. The Chiefs aren’t going to try to make him an all-around wide receiver.”
Kadarius Toney’s KC Debut Could Come in Week 9
ESPN reported that the Chiefs have had sights set on Toney since before this season began, which likely reinforces the notion that after losing Tyreek Hill in a trade with the Dolphins, Reid and Kansas City have a plan for how to best deploy Toney and take the offense to new heights.
Through the first 12 games of Toney’s NFL career, he has caught 41 passes for 420 yards, while averaging 10.2 yards per reception.
Kansas City returns from the bye week against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday Night Football on November 6, which presumably will be Toney’s Chiefs debut.