Green Bay Packers

Could Kadarius Toney Be a WR2 Solution For the Packers?

Jan 28, 2021; American wide receiver Kadarius Toney of Florida (1) grabs a pass during American practice at Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile, Alabama, USA; Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers’ lack of wide-receiver depth was never more clear than in the NFC Championship game. Davante Adams is undoubtedly a top-three receiver, but Green Bay has no other pass-catchers to draw attention away from him. Every time they make it to the red zone they have to force the ball to Adams. It culminated in the playoffs when the Packers couldn’t get into the end zone late against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and controversially settled for a field goal down 31-23 with 2:09 left to play.

Even with defenses fixated on stopping him, Adams would go on to have the best season of his career. He posted 1,374 yards and 18 touchdowns in 14 games. The extra attention forced Matt LaFleur to manufacture touches to Adams in the red zone, often having Adams motion across the formation to create a split second where he could capitalize on the confusion between defensive backs.

This worked in the divisional round against the Los Angeles Rams, but it was a much different story against Tampa Bay. They keyed in on Adams, effectively communicating on every play and limiting yards-after-catch opportunities. Aaron Rodgers never fully trusted in Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Allen Lazard, and Equanimeous St. Brown, making the offense predictable.

Last year they didn’t draft a wide receiver in what may go down as the deepest wideout class of all time. This year they can correct their mistakes by giving a rejuvenated Aaron Rodgers another weapon in Kadarius Toney from the University of Florida. He is an explosive athlete who could provide an extra element to the Packers’ offense. He’s of the Curtis Samuel mold, with explosive speed and the versatility to be both a ball carrier and a pass-catcher.

Toney showed his prowess during his senior season in Gainesville, recording 984 yards on 70 catches while serving primarily as a second option to star tight end Kyle Pitts. The end result was an incredible increase in production. Toney had never eclipsed 300 yards in an entire season before last year.

His elusiveness, bursts of speed, and ability to stop and start at will makes him a sought-after commodity. His explosiveness off the line of scrimmage and ability to create separation at the stem of the route, coupled with his speed, makes him a threat to break a big play every time he touches the football.

Adams can draw attention underneath on shorter routes while Toney takes the top off of defenses and makes them pay with his world-class speed. While he likely will need to refine his routes at the next level, where he will likely play in the slot, he will have an excellent mentor in Adams, who might be the best route-runner in the NFL.

Early in the season, LaFleur will likely have to manufacture touches to Toney to get him involved in the offense, but his elite athleticism is bound to take some pressure off Adams. He can also be used as a ball carrier. Both Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams could be on the way out, and Toney could occasionally be a change-of-pace back who serves as a complement to the physical running style of A.J. Dillon.

During his time in Florida, Toney was used on jet sweeps and end-arounds, something Green Bay tried with Tyler Ervin. While Ervin was decent taking handoffs, Toney adds an extra element of speed that opposing defenses will be forced to respect.

Toney can also return kicks and punts; he showcased his joystick-like abilities to avoid defenders with ease in college.

While names like Rondale Moore and Terrace Marshall Jr. have been tossed around for the Packers at pick 29, I think Toney would be a better option than either of them.

Moore possesses similar traits to Toney with his top-end speed and ability to break the game open every time he touches the ball, but he has major durability issues. In the past two years, Moore has only played seven games for Perdue. At 5’9”, 180 lbs, he is undersized for a wideout and has frequently been injured.

Marshall is more durable, but he doesn’t have the same game-breaking ability that Toney possesses. He’s a capable wideout but doesn’t have Toney’s upside. Toney could make Green Bay forget their regrets over missing out on last year’s stacked wide-receiver class, and he and Adams could form a dangerous duo for a long time to come.

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Jan 28, 2021; American wide receiver Kadarius Toney of Florida (1) grabs a pass during American practice at Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile, Alabama, USA; Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

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