Sometimes, a team picks the wrong player in the draft. In the case of Kadarius Toney early on in his NFL career, it seems as if the player may have been picked by the wrong team.
Despite all of the shimmies and twitches and jerk-routes that the wide receiver showed on the field in college — making him one of the most versatile, dyamic and elusive players in the nation at Florida — the Giants have yet to harness any of it. The question many had when they selected Toney with the 20th overall selection after trading back remains as fresh today as it was in April: Is their offense creative enough to utilize him to the fullness of his potential?
Through two games, Toney has touched the ball just twice, both times in the opening day loss to the Broncos, for a total of minus-2 yards. Against Washington, he was on the field for 19 offensive snaps but wasn’t targeted once.
Joe Judge said that is not a reflection of anything Toney is doing or not doing in practices.
"We’ll just keep working within our system and schemes," he said. "Look, for every skill player, it’s not your job to go out there and manufacture a play. It’s when the ball comes your way to make a play with it. It’s that simple. So when the ball comes his way, we have faith he’ll have the ball in his hands and make a play. We’ve seen that before from him."
No one has yet seen it with the Giants, though. Toney was expected to be a bit of a slow-starter in his pro career and a not-quite-polished player. Add to that rawness all of the practice time he missed due to COVID-19 and his hamstring injury during the preseason and his role in the offense and on the team is still in its most nascent form.
"Right now, we’ve got a lot of guys making a lot of plays and sometimes it’s just the way things are dictated by coverage or look," Judge said of Toney’s limited chances. "He’s obviously a part of our team. We’re looking to involve him as much as possible and that’ll continue growing as we go forward."
Whether or not Toney has the patience for that remains to be seen. There are already signs he is growing unhappy with his very limited opportunities, from a sideline conversation with Judge that appeared to upset him to a post-game Instagram post, since deleted, that suggested he was not mad but called his situation "lame." Toney has not spoken to the media since prior to his NFL debut in Week 1 as reporters have not been allowed in locker rooms and only have access to a limited number of players each day due to COVID-19 restrictions.
"I talk to all of our players all the time, especially our young players, about getting in and how the game flow may go and differences in the league from college," Judge said. "But that’s no exception for any player. I would say in terms of KT, I see a guy that shows up every day and works hard. That’s what I see… I’ve seen a guy that’s come to practice every day and in the meetings has been attentive. He’s worked hard on the field. He’s going to continue to improve as a player and build himself in as an intricate part of our offense."