The New York Giants couldn’t get the most out of Kadarius Toney, but one former NFL general manager believes the wide receiver drafted 20th in 2021 can emulate “explosive” Tyreek Hill for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2023.
It’s a lofty comparison, but ex-Minnesota Vikings GM Rick Spielman is comfortable predicting Toney will take on a similar role to the one Hill occupied for the Chiefs before last season. Spielman told The 33rd Team, “if Toney can stay healthy, he reminds me a lot of Percy Harvin, except he’s a better receiver. I envision some of the things Tyreek Hill did in that offense and how explosive he became. Toney has all of those physical traits.”
Staying healthy was a major problem for Toney during his season and a bit with the Giants, one reason the team traded him to the Chiefs midway through last season. Head coach Brian Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen got a third-round pick in return, a selection the Giants sent to the Las Vegas Raiders to trade for Pro-Bowl tight end Darren Waller this offseason.
Daboll is counting on Waller to become the kind of game-breaking pass-catcher Toney never morphed into for the Giants. Yet, the former Florida standout did help the Chiefs win Super Bowl LVI, and Spielman believes Toney “should be more of a focal point this season, especially now that he understands the system.”
Another year’s experience and Patrick Mahomes throwing him passes can equal bigger things for Toney, but the Giants need to find their own version of Hill. Fortunately, a member of this year’s draft class fits the bill.
7-Time Pro Bowler a Tough Act to Follow
Hill’s a tough act to follow for Toney, since ‘The Cheetah’ went to seven Pro Bowls and earned All-Pro honors four times before being traded to the Miami Dolphins a year ago. The deal earned the Chiefs five picks for the league’s premier deep threat.
Taking the top off of defenses became Hill’s calling card in Kansas City. His ability to stretch the field made him feared, like when he hauled in this 44-yarder on 3rd-and-15 to help beat the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV.
The play, known as “2-3 Jet Chip Wasp,” showcased Hill at his best. His vertical threat became such an effective weapon it changed the way teams defended the Chiefs and their Mahomes-led offense.
Defenses became increasingly reliant on two-deep coverage shells to try and take away Mahomes’ deep ball to Hill. All the shell coverage forced the Chiefs to make adjustments, changes that became easier to implement without Hill.
They were also changes that helped Toney show the Giants what they were missing.
Giants Wasted Draft Flop’s True Potential
Toney can’t match Hill’s vertical speed, few receivers in the NFL can manage that particular feat. What Toney can do is be used to gash defenses in multiple ways.
Chiefs’ head coach Andy Reid and now-former offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy explored many of those ways last season. They used Toney on screens, jet sweeps and even some direct handoffs.
Seeing Toney torch their NFC East rivals must have had the Giants wondering what if? It’s an easy question to ask because it’s surprising a gifted offensive mind like Daboll couldn’t find a role for a playmaker as versatile as Toney.
Daboll was okay letting Toney join a new team even though his own offense lacked a true No. 1 weapon in the passing game. The problem arguably persists, even after the arrival of Waller, but the Giants hope a third-round pick can remedy the issue.
Giants Can Develop Their Own Tyreek Hill
A burner on the outside is still something Giants’ quarterback Daniel Jones needs to help him take his game to the next level. What he needs is somebody with Hill’s best attribute, namely game-changing speed.
That’s what Jalin Hyatt should bring to the offense after being drafted 73rd overall. He posted a 4.4 40 time at the Scouting Combine, after establishing a reputation as a vertical weapon at Tennessee.
Hyatt has the kind of speed Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka — who once served as Mahomes’ position coach while Hill was on the roster with the Chiefs — can unleash from anywhere on the field. That should mean not only isolating Hyatt against single coverage on the outside, but also using him from the slot and finding ways to free him in space for yards after the catch off shorter throws.
Getting Hyatt involved early and often will make it easier to forget about Toney, even if he does become the next Hill with the Chiefs.